Academic Integrity Guidelines for Information Security Conferences, Presentations, Publications, and Other Outputs

This document gives guidelines that can be used in Cybersecurity and Information Security conferences, whitepapers, and other published media. The aim is to give an initial set of baseline integrity requirements for the publication of information security and cybersecurity research and other outputs.

We have based these guidelines on existing guidelines – although our source material is intended for use with students in an academic setting, our guidelines aim to recast these ideas for the cybersecurity industry.

The aim is to establish guidelines and conventions for good practice in the industry with a view to defining actions that colleagues can undertake in order to mitigate plagiarism.

What is Academic Integrity?

When members of the community read the work of others, share and develop ideas, and publish new ones, we have to bear in mind the way in which we interpreted, understood, and combined existing ideas with new ones to produce an original piece of output. We do this to honour the ideals of fairness, honesty, and respect for other researchers and colleagues in the industry. This, put simply, is academic integrity.

One of the key ways in which we enact such integrity is the avoidance of plagiarism by correctly acknowledging the work and effort of our colleagues.

What is Plagiarism?

We start this discussion by defining what ‘copying’ means in an academic sense (from [2]); put simply, copying is the conscious act of presenting someone else’s published work as one’s own. Plagiarism is then the act of copying published work, in whole or in part.

Plagiarism can be defined more explicitly in the following examples (please note, this list is not exhaustive – taken from [2, §2.6]):

  • Word-for-word copying of the work of others without explicit acknowledgement, citation, and reference to the original source of the material.
  • Close paraphrasing of the work of others without explicit acknowledgement, citation, and reference to the original source of the material.
  • Failure to reference appropriately or to adequately identify the original source of material used in the work.
  • Unacknowledged quotation of phrases from another’s work.
  • Deliberate and detailed presentation of another’s concept or work as if it were one’s own work.

How should we cite and reference to avoid plagiarism?

In the definitions above it becomes clear that the following guidelines should be followed:

  • Any previously published work that is used in the new work should be identified and cited.
  • The source of the original work that is in use should be identified and referenced. This includes:
    • Naming the original authors
    • Naming the title of the original work
    • Naming the publication the original work appeared in, where it was published, and when (Year only is sufficient)
    • Giving any and all relevant additional data with which an interested party can relocate the reference you are using, e.g. URLs, archive details, etc.
  • Citations should be made inline to the text, and quotations or ideas from other publications should be clearly marked and cited.
  • A collection of references can be placed in a bibliography at the end of the document, giving full details, and to which citations can be referenced. Though this is not always needed, it is generally recommended that these are used, especially for longform publications and works to appear in journals/volumes.

If these guidelines are followed then it should be generally clear to any reader when work has been used from other publications, who did the original work, and where it can be located for verification of any claims.

Why should we fight plagiarism?

There are many reasons we should identify and call out plagiarism, but we will give some important ones here, from [1]:

  1. Others in the community and industry can be confident in the critical analysis being put forward genuinely comes from those who are publishing/presenting the work.
  2. We can gain some knowledge of the independence of the work from external influences, e.g. commercial influences.
  3. That the misdeeds of others are not going to undermine your own work, effort, and insight by the misrepresentation of your work.

Educating yourself about what constitutes plagiarism is the best way to ensure you do not fall afoul and are not accused of it.


Academic integrity can also be compromised if you do joint work with others in a collaboration, but then proceed to present it as your own – which is collusion. This is potentially misleading, and may lead to accusations of plagiarism or duplication of work. As such, where a group of people have worked on a project, this should be clearly stated in the authorship descriptions of the publication/output. More information can be found in [2]

Accidental or Minor Errors in Referencing and Citation

Sometimes people do make genuine mistakes. Some examples of these include (from [2]):

  • Incorrect or insufficient identification of quotations – this includes not using them, or making it obscure as to which elements have been taken from the work of others.
  • Minor mistakes in referencing or citing – inc. any inaccuracies or mismatches.
  • Gaps in a bibliography of references list.
  • Lack of compliance with previously issued presentation or citation guidelines.

Though none of these inherently constitute plagiarism, they do run the risk of not meeting the standards of academic integrity we stated above. As such, care should be taken to avoid such pitfalls in the interests and spirit of integrity.

Plagiarism and Copyright

Sometimes, just acknowledging work is not enough. Owing to restrictions due to copyright law, you should also check whether permission is also required to utilise someone’s work within or as part of your own.

Authors have the onus and duty to make themselves aware of where and when copyright applies and permission should be sought for the work/output they are producing. Please refer to local laws in the area you wish to publish for more detail.

For UK considerations see [2] and

Recourse and Sanctions

Accusations of plagiarism are incredibly serious – they indicate that the values and ethics we defined earlier have not been adhered to, and that the integrity of an author is in question. As such, they will not be taken lightly under investigation by an assigned Committee.

Let ‘the Committee’ denote any group of people who have oversight for a conference, event, publication, journal, or other output that an author wants to have their work featured at/in. The Committee has various avenues of recourse following an accusation of plagiarism.

At the discretion of the Committee, accusations will be assessed on a case-by-case basis. Following on from this, the committee has available to it a number of actions, which include (but are not limited to):

  • Rescind the submitted work from all media/output – up to and including the removal of hosted material, such as videos, slides, papers, or other media.
  • Retract publications based off confirmed instances of plagiarism.
  • Make public statements concerning the nature of a confirmed instance of plagiarism.

The Committee should take accusations and the ensuing investigations very seriously and proceed carefully and thoughtfully through a thorough assessment of any accusation of plagiarism.

The following guidelines were used as influential examples and resources for formulating this set of guidelines: