Published 21/05/2015


I)   Scope of application

1.1 These guidelines define the requirements of an anti-plagiarism program that aims to prevent practices that do not conform to academic norms, namely:

–     plagiarism by students and researchers
–     self-plagiarism

By convention, the term plagiarism should be understood in the specific academic context. It does not refer to royalties but regards the consequences of offenses against the principles of scientific integrity in matters of research and publication.

1.2 Regarding students, an anti-plagiarism program aims to establish measures, methods and sanctions to reduce the risk of student plagiarism as far as possible.

1.3 For teachers and researchers, an anti-plagiarism program should set up measures that deal with and punish the offense to reduce the risk of teacher and researcher plagiarism as far as possible.

II) Definitions

These generic definitions apply to plagiarism whether committed by students or researchers.

Plagiarism, just like self-plagiarism, is fraudulent and its consequences are complex. This is true whether the context is interpersonal, inter-institutional or even international (in the case of the delivery of joint diplomas). As such, specific treatment is needed.

2.1 Plagiarism

The definition we have retained of plagiarism is that suggested by the Swiss National Fund for Scientific Research in the document “Plagiarism and incorrect citation in the Swiss National Fund for Scientific Research” (“Plagiat et citation incorrecte dans les requêtes déposées au Fonds national Suisse”[1])There is plagiarism “when the conclusions and results of research done by others are written under one’s own name.” This includes not only lifting scientific content (ideas, results, methods), but also the formulation of scientific facts (for example repeating the analysis of a “state of the art” of a specific subject, that is in itself a work of scientific research) without the correct citation. The citation must make the fact that the text is borrowed clear for the reader; it must supply a verifiable source. When a text is reproduced, the original source must therefore be provided nearby and the text pointed out through appropriate formulation or quotation marks.”

2.2 Self-plagiarism

Self-plagiarism occurs when an author re-uses research he or she has already published or data already analyzed without mentioning the fact explicitly for the reader. This practice leads to the inflation of references in a CV. Several types of self-plagiarism are strictly forbidden, such as translating an article to publish it in a language other than that in which it first appeared without citing the first publication. It is also unacceptable to repeat the publication of results of identical research in several publications, except in special cases that are clearly and explicitly referenced, such as referral to previous work whose reappearance is justified in a new editorial context.

Discussion of results in two different publications may be accepted if all precautions for citing sources are taken, but this does not apply to repeating paragraphs, sentences, diagrams or results. Finally, we strongly advise against “salami-slicing” – or extracting from a large piece of research several smaller units that can be published in order to obtain the greatest number of articles possible (and thus increase the number of self-citations).

2.3 Responsible authorities

This section deals with the authorities whose mission is to guarantee the validity of qualifications awarded by educational establishments. Their mission also includes the guarantee that students and researchers have acquired the necessary competences for obtaining each diploma granted.

These authorities have human, economic and legal resources to enable them to examine cases of presumed plagiarism and decide appropriate sanctions.

Thus, all who represent their institution at the highest level and who are involved in the case are considered to be responsible, namely the president, rector, dean, councils or other decision-making bodies.

III) Anti-plagiarism program

A. Commitment

A.1. Commitment of responsible authorities

The responsible authorities that the Institute has advised, set up transversal measures covering the areas of communication, training and sanctions.

By doing this, they recognize that taking account of plagiarism and its corollary, institutional fraud, is one of the pillars of their strategy. They engage their responsibility in terms of respecting policy and the anti-plagiarism charter. To this end, they supervise the implementation of the various measures and control mechanisms.

We also strongly advise that responsible authorities communicate the anti-plagiarism program publicly (via the institution’s Internet site and/or any other channel of their choice).

A.2 Commitment of the community

If such measures are to work, all members of the establishment’s academic community (research assistants, librarians, teachers, students, etc.) must commit to the contract that is renewed tacitly at the start of each new academic year. This commitment entails respecting and ensuring the respect of the anti-plagiarism charter at their own level of responsibility.

A.2.1 Specific commitment made by teachers and research professors

By signing the anti-plagiarism charter, teachers and research professors commit to respect the entity’s policy in the matter of research ad publication.

A.2.2 Specific commitment made by students

Students sign a specific Charter and commit to respect its policy.

Students writing dissertations and doctoral theses should mention on the frontispiece or in the forward of their text that their work respects the rules adopted by the establishment in matters of plagiarism and self-plagiarism.

B. Organisation humaine et financière

B.1 Budget

Les institutions académiques définissent un budget destiné à permettre la mise en œuvre des Principes Directeurs.

B.2 Encadrement

L’objet de cette partie est de préciser les modalités d’application préalables à mettre en place par les instances responsables.

B.2.1 Appointing head of anti-plagiarism

The role of the institution’s nominated or elected head of anti-plagiarism is to preside over the team in charge of the anti-plagiarism program and see to the program’s overall implementation.

This individual normally corresponds to the following profile:

– a senior with transversal involvement in the organization (e.g. not simply a researcher), human, interdisciplinary and autonomous.

This person has direct access to the heads of the institution warn them in case of difficulties in setting up plagiarism prevention measures or if necessary when dealing with cases of presumed plagiarism.

B.2.2 Setting up teams responsible for the anti-plagiarism program

The habits and processes of an academic institution cannot be changed from the top.  It is therefore necessary to constitute a team in charge of the program, not based on volunteer membership or hierarchical position, but on the complementarity of profiles called for by every dimension of the problem.

Because it is an academic project, professors and researchers, who understand the modes of communication of internal actors, must be strongly involved. The measures decided should not distinguish between professors or students. The message must be that everyone is treated equally.

The role of the institution’s nominated or elected head of anti-plagiarism is to preside over the team in charge of the anti-plagiarism program and see to the program’s overall implementation. This individual normally corresponds to the following profile: a senior with transversal involvement in the organization (e.g. not simply a researcher), human, interdisciplinary and autonomous. This person has direct access to the heads of the institution warn them in case of difficulties in setting up plagiarism prevention measures or if necessary when dealing with cases of presumed plagiarism.

• The team in charge of the student anti-plagiarism program is responsible for the following:

– setting up a committee to write an anti-plagiarism charter for students, following up and adjusting this Charter,

– coordinating communication and training on the subject,

– taking account of the specifics of the anti-plagiarism charter,

– setting a time frame for implementation,

– reporting to the authorities and actors concerned, and

– communicating regular statistics of cases discovered.

• The team in charge of the plagiarism program for researchers and others who publish must accomplish the following:

– set up a body to elaborate a Charter of integrity in research and publication for the use of researchers and research assistants,

– obtain the commitment of researchers, research assistants, technicians and administrative personnel to respect the charter,

– coordinate the modes of action for communication and training taking account of the specific characteristics of the charter,

– report to the authorities and actors concerned, and

– communicate regular statistics of cases discovered.

C. Process for dealing with complaints concerning students and research professors

The measures must be clearly stated so that allegations of suspected plagiarism are not discouraged. Precise information plays a crucial role. 

C.1 Communicating

– It is essential to communicate the principles and guidelines of combatting plagiarism and how they are applied.

– It is also necessary to communicate throughout the establishment about how to draw attention to cases of suspected plagiarism.

– It must be easy and strictly confidential for those who in good faith, wish to draw attention to suspected plagiarism (via an email address, specific person to contact, etc.).

– Similarly, whistle-blowers must be protected by keeping their identity confidential as far as possible

– the process of managing investigations must be transparent, and when possible, the result of the investigation.

C.2 Dealing with allegations of plagiarism

– Any accusation of plagiarism, whatever the status of the accuser, should be transmitted to the head of anti-plagiarism who sets up an investigation under his or her responsibility.

– The head of anti-plagiarism must take care to see that the investigation is conducted with the appropriate degree of confidentiality to protect the rights and personality of the whistle-blower and suspected plagiarist. The accusing party should notably be protected from retaliation of any kind.

– In the case of plagiarism committed by a student, the head of plagiarism should set up an investigative committee that includes him/herself and one or two specialists of the disciplines concerned. These individuals must be free of any risk of collusion with the suspected plagiarist.

– During the investigation, the student must be given a hearing by this investigation committee or by someone named by the committee and not by his/her professor who needs to remain as neutral as possible. It is important that the Investigation committee is made up of at least two people who are free from all pressure – whether from the plagiarist, the plaintiff, the professors or the responsible authorities. Depending on the seriousness of the case, the head of anti-plagiarism could designate an investigation committee made up wholly or partly, of persons outside the institution.

– In the case of plagiarism committed by a research professor, the head of anti-plagiarism can first attempt mediation. If this fails, or if it is not possible, there is a real risk of a conflict of interest. It is important that the Investigation committee be neutral and free from any pressure from the plagiarist, the plaintiff, other research professors or the responsible authorities. The investigation committee should include at least one specialist of the domain concerned and two resources in expert investigation. If all the members are not external to the establishment, the committee should at least be presided by someone outside the academic institution concerned and there should be no hierarchical relations between the committee members and any other party; this is to ensure impartiality and to protect members from any subsequent suspicion of conflict of interest.

– The four following specific conditions should be fulfilled if a request for examination is to give rise to an investigation:

1. The complaint should be documented and show harm done to an author, a person, a journal, an establishment or another actor.

2. The person requesting the examination should, if possible, provide a dossier in electronic format, containing all the elements justifying the request.

3. The plaintiff must specify his/her expectations in terms of the results of the request.

4. The elements revealing the plagiarism must be made known to the accused party who must provide an argued response within a reasonable time limit.

D. Sanctions

Once the investigation is over, the head of anti-plagiarism informs the competent body of the conclusions so that a sanction may be applied if necessary.

D.1 Sanctions against students

if the fraud is found to be true, it should be pronounced by the “disciplinary council” or equivalent.

Most establishments consider that in cases of partial plagiarism, the grade should be zero, the offense mentioned in the student’s file and/or failure of part or all of the program should be pronounced.  In cases of major plagiarism (copy-pasting of an entire text), the student is usually suspended or excluded from the establishment for good.

D.2 Sanctions against professors and researchers

The sanctions should be pronounced by the highest authority of the institution concerned.

The sanctions are defined in relation to the seriousness of the fraud: this may range from exclusion from any research body to exclusion from any activity within the establishment.

The work of authors convicted of plagiarism must not be accessible for consultation and sometimes, this work should be destroyed: the sanctions guarantee the respect of academic ethics and intellectual property.

Compensatory measures towards the victims must also be pronounced. They may for example, consist of an apology or reimbursement of procedure expenses.

D.3 Appeal

A possible appeal to the highest authorities (Presidents, Rectors, Deans, Directors, etc.) should be proposed. This appeal must be made within a short time and it must be examined rapidly.

D.4 Communication of sanctions

In case of sanctions and after the appeal has failed, the establishment should decide in all fairness what type of information should be communicated to the stakeholders.