(Adopted by the AMS Council 22 September 2010)
These guidelines are based largely on guidelines published by the AGU, which are, to a great extent, based on “Ethical Guidelines to Publication of Chemical Research” by the American Chemical Society (Copyright 1985, 1989, 1995, 2001, 2006 American Chemical Society). The AMS appreciates the permission of the AGU and ACS to quote extensively from these documents.
- An author's central obligation is to present a concise and accurate account of the research performed as well as an objective discussion of its significance.
- A paper should contain sufficient detail and references to public sources of information (literature and data) and methodology used to permit the author's peers to test the paper’s scientific conclusions.
- All funding sources should be identified in the manuscript. Authors should disclose to the editor any financial arrangement with a research sponsor that could give the appearance of a conflict of interest.
- An author should cite those publications that have been influential in determining the nature and motivation for the present work. Information obtained privately, as in conversation, correspondence, or discussion with third parties, should not be used or reported in the author's work without explicit permission from the investigator with whom the information originated. Information obtained in the course of confidential services, such as refereeing manuscripts or grant applications, cannot be used without permission of the author of the work being used.
- It is unethical for an author to copy text, figures, or tables (i.e., plagiarize) from other work without attribution. Even self-plagiarism (or autoplagiarism), defined as copying from previous work by the author, could be considered unethical as it may involve copyright infringement (i.e., as a condition of publication in AMS journals, authors are required to transfer intellectual property rights to the AMS—hence, authors no longer “own” previously published work).
- Fragmentation of research papers should be avoided. A scientist who has done extensive work on a topic or a group of related topics should organize publications so that each paper gives a complete account of a particular aspect of the general study.
- It is unethical for an author to publish manuscripts describing essentially the same research in more than one peer-reviewed paper.
- It is inappropriate to submit manuscripts with an obvious commercial intent.
- An author should make no material changes to a paper after it has been accepted. If there is a compelling reason to make changes (other than to correct typographical errors), the author is obligated to inform the editor directly of the nature of the desired change. Only the editor has the final authority to approve any such requested changes.
- A criticism of a published paper may be justified and is allowed in a “Comment and Reply” sequence; however, personal criticism is never considered acceptable.
- Only individuals who have made a substantive intellectual contribution to the published research should be listed as coauthors. The contributions usually involve significantly helping with the acquisition of data or analysis and/or contributions to the interpretation of information. A deceased person who met the authorship requirements may be designated as a coauthor. The corresponding author accepts the responsibility of having included as authors all persons who meet these criteria for authorship and none who do not. Other contributors who do not meet the authorship criteria should be appropriately acknowledged in the article. It is unethical for the corresponding author to submit work without all living coauthors having seen the final version of the article, agreed with the major conclusions, and agreed to its submission for publication.
(Adopted by the AMS Publications Commission June 2014. Related editorial, "AMS Policy on Plagiarism and Self-Plagiarism," published in February 2015.)
To provide authors with more specifics to items 5–7 above, and to clarify what is meant by plagiarism and self-plagiarism, the following Addendum is provided by the AMS Publications Commission.
What Is Not Plagiarism or Self-Plagiarism?
- Effective communication in science requires clear and precise descriptions, often involving technical words and phrases. Duplication of words and phrases from other source material amounting to less than a sentence shall not be construed as plagiarism, in general.
- Directly quoted material surrounded by quotation marks or indented as block quotes and cited to the original source is not considered plagiarism. There are some circumstances in which the use of quotations, particularly lengthy ones, may require permission from a copyright proprietor. Direct quotation and acknowledgement of the source may avoid claims of plagiarism, but copyright issues should be considered separately.
- Duplication of text from a non-peer-reviewed source, provided that it was written by one of the authors (e.g., most conference preprints, project progress reports, personal or project websites, dissertations), will not constitute plagiarism, in general. (However, permission from a copyright proprietor may still be required.) In such cases, authors should disclose the prior informal publication of this work either as a citation in the text or as a mention in the acknowledgements if the past work is not publicly available.
What Is Plagiarism?
Excluding items discussed above, duplication of unquoted text (even if cited)—even if the similar text includes changed verb tense, different numerical values, and the use of synonyms, for example—is generally considered to be plagiarism and is unacceptable within AMS journals.
What Is Self-Plagiarism?
Self-plagiarism occurs when substantial amounts of text previously published by the same author are used without citation and without indicating it is a quotation. To avoid self-plagiarism, sections containing duplicate or similar text must (i) appropriately cite the original source to promote the primacy of the source and (ii) indicate that the text largely follows directly from that source [e.g., “The description of the dataset parallels that of Smith et al. (1980) as follows in the next two paragraphs.” or “The methods are the same as employed in Smith et al. (2008), and the following text is derived from there with minor modifications.”]. Editors will determine the acceptability of such cases of duplicate or similar text and may provide guidance about how to avoid self-plagiarism.
Consequences of Plagiarism and Self-Plagiarism
How AMS Editors handle such instances is left to their discretion. Severe cases may result in outright rejection of the manuscript with no chance for resubmission. Other actions may be taken as well. Minor cases may be pointed out to the author in the initial decision letter with the requirement that revisions be made.
Sources for Best Practices
Authors are encouraged to examine the reference material that was used in the construction of AMS policy regarding plagiarism.
Clark, R., cited 2014: Self-plagiarism and self-citation: A practical guide based on underlying principles.
COPE, cited 2014: Committee on Publication Ethics.
Dooley, J. J., 2013: A note on good research practice. Int. J. Greenhouse Gas Control, 15, 1–2, doi:10.1016/j.ijggc.2013.02.003.
Masic, I., 2012: Plagiarism in scientific publishing. Acta Inf. Med., 20, 208–213, doi:10.5455/aim.2012.20.208-213.
Spinak, E., cited 2014: Ethical editing practices and the problem of self-plagiarism.