IMS Plagiarizes Security Blog (Security Squared)

Author: John Honovich, Published on Dec 14, 2010

IMS Research, one of the most well-known market analysts in the physical security industry, plagiarized 5 paragraphs from Security Squared in IMS Research's Dec 1, 2010 release: "What is PSIM?" IMS has since made partial attribution calling it a 'simple editorial oversight'. In this report, we examine the case, issues involved, IMS's response and threatened lawsuit.

In a LinkedIn discussion on Dec 13th, the Editor of SecuritySquared posted that:

The bulk of this press release was lifted almost verbatim from a report Sharon Watson and I wrote for Security Squared last March ... I find it regrettable that IMS chose to repackage my material 1) as its own research, and 2) gave no attribution to Security Squared, and 3) Disperse it to the trade media under its own brand.

[Note: IMS used the release as part of a global marketing campaign running in ASMAG, Info4Security, Professional SecuritySecurityInfoWatch, Security Sales & Integration, Security Director News, Security Systems News, etc.]

In March 2010, Security Squared released an in-depth feature "PSIM, Near PSIM and Models for Integrated Management." The piece included a section called "PSIM Defined" listing 5 traits PSIM must have. By contrast, the December 2010 IMS release had 7 criteria, 5 of which were paraphrased from the Security Squared report.

Example #1:

  • Security Squared, March 2010: "A rules-based workflow for response. It must be able to immediately offer a step-by-step action plan, based on pre-determined rules and policies, to respond and counter the threat."
  • IMS Research, December 2010: "A Rules-based Workflow for Response: A PSIM software platform must be able to immediately offer a step-by-step action plan, based on pre-determined rules and policies, to respond, manage/counter the threat and control response operations."

Example #2:

  • Security Squared, March 2010: "Post-event reporting and analysis. PSIM must provide documentation for forensic review of the situation and action taken."
  • IMS Research, December 2010: " Post-Event Reporting and Analysis: A PSIM software platform must provide an audit log that allows for post-event forensic review detailing the event situation and the action taken."

Example #3:

  • Security Squared, March 2010: "Correlation and verification. It must be able to automatically connect and cross-reference events from each respective system as they happen;"
  • IMS Research, December 2010: "Correlation and Verification: A PSIM software platform must be able to automatically connect and cross-reference multiple events from multiple disparate security systems in real-time and give the ability to flexibly set rules."

After SecuritySquared's editor contacted IMS, IMS added a note saying that the "initial starting point for the discussion regarding the definition for PSIM software was based upon prior work by Steven Titch and Sharon J. Watson of SecuritySquared."

This is not just a starting point but a clear example of copying other's works at great length, using it as the core of IMS's 'definition'. It's textbook plagiarism: "A paraphrased example must be cited. You cite a paraphrased example as you would a word-for-word quote. Paraphrasing is a condensed version of another author's work, or putting the author's words into your own words."

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The Editor of Security Squared reviewed the IMS PSIM report, noting, "From my perspective, this happened because nothing is clearly sourced or cited in the PSIM report. The author makes general statements about consulting company web sites and trade media, but there are no footnotes nor even informal attribution in the text".

IMS Responds

Prior to publication, we sent IMS a full copy of our draft providing them an opportunity to comment or provide input. Here is IMS CEO's response:

Firstly, the allegation of plagiarism that you propose making against IMS Research is an extremely serious one and is completely without foundation. The PSIM definition issue that you reference was a simple editorial oversight on our part. It was extremely unfortunate but as a publisher of hundreds of reports every year, it will inevitably occur very occasionally. This is only the second such issue that we have been involved with in the last 20 years, which gives you an idea of the seriousness with which we take our editorial responsibilities.

Secondly, once this issue was drawn to our attention we dealt with it immediately. We revised our report to acknowledge the definition source, contacted customers to inform them, and reissued the press release. We also sent a full transcript of our report to Steven Titch at SecuritySquared so that they could reassure themselves that this was an isolated omission. Steven seems very satisfied with the timely and professional way we have handled this issue. "

We think IMS is being irresponsible calling this a 'simple editorial oversight':

  • Even if a college student did this, it would clearly be plagiarism. IMS is a global company in business for more than 20 years. 
  • This is a major part of IMS's 'research.' They proposed the question 'What is PSIM?' and answered it by wholesale copying another company's work. This is not simply a minor observation or reference but key to the report/release.
  • IMS copied a significant section of Security Squared's work - 5 paragraphs, not simply a phrase or a sentence.

IMS is still not rectifying this fully: IMS refers to Security Squared's work as a 'starting point for discussion' but it's clearly much more than that; IMS basically copied and rearranged words across 5 paragraphs. IMS should be fully honest and acknowledge that it is not their definition but Security Squared's.

While IMS claims that this has only happened twice, it is very difficult for others to check (or know) as access to their research is highly restricted.

Additionally, the Editor of Security Squared raised concerns that nothing is clearly sourced or cited in IMS's PSIM report. Contrary to IMS's claim, Security Squared is raising fundamental questions about IMS's research methodology.

IMS Threatens Lawsuit

IMS has threatened us with a lawsuit:

Any web posting by yourself which damages our reputation for probity in this area would be treated extremely seriously by us, and we are already taking legal advice to assess what our options are in terms of legal and financial redress in the event of publication. ... if our reputation is damaged we will take appropriate action to protect ourselves and seek redress.

IMS has damaged their own reputation by their very acts. Perhaps they should sue themselves.

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