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Research integrity and plagiarism

The European Code of Conduct for Research Integrity defines plagiarism as “using other people’s work and ideas without giving proper credit to the original source, thus violating the rights of the original author(s) to their intellectual outputs.”

The two main types of plagiarism are verbatim plagiarism and plagiarism of ideas. Verbatim plagiarism consists in copying someone else’s work word-for-word. Patchwork plagiarism is a sub-category of verbatim plagiarism, and consists in copying bits and pieces of text from multiple sources and mixing them together to disguise their origin.

Plagiarism of ideas is defined as stealing someone else’s original ideas, research theories, data, interpretations, and passing them off as one’s own. This type of plagiarism occurs also if stolen ideas are paraphrased.

Usually, plagiarism is described as an intentional act, and it is closely associated with academic misconduct. However, when sources are cited incorrectly or incompletely researchers can incur in plagiarism accusations, even if their actions were unintentional.

Some actions that lead to plagiarism accusations include:

  • Not using quotation marks for direct quotations.
  • Reporting incorrect information about a source.
  • Translating part of someone else’s work into another language without citing its original source.
  • Taking so much content from one or multiple sources that it makes up the majority of the work, whether sources are cited or not.

Finally, plagiarism also occurs when researchers recycle their own work without citing its source. Self-plagiarism is defined as the act of using one's own previous work without reference, and presenting it as new.


Plagiarism accusations have heavy consequences on a reasearcher’s academic career, such as diminished reputation, article rejections and retractions from journals, disciplinary sanctions that can lead to expulsion from research institutions.

They can also lead to legal action against the accused for copyright infringement. Intellectual property is protected by the Italian copyright law, which also regulates the use of citations. However, attribution is also a defining element of open access licenses, like Creative Commons.

According to IMT Code of conducts and ethics, all members of the IMT community must carry out their responsibilities with the highest level of integrity and ethical behavior. This document also lists plagiarism as strictly prohibited.

Before they submit their PhD thesis, IMT students must sign an originality statement. To know more about copyright and PhD theses, see our guide.

Plagiarism prevention and originality checks

The IMT School supports its scientific community in plagiarism prevention, by adopting the plagiarism detection software Turnitin – Feedback Studio.

All PhD students are required to submit their thesis draft to be checked for plagiarism.

Avoiding plagiarism is easily achieved by citing sources correctly.

Online resources