Scholarly Integrity and Misconduct

Scholarly activity at the graduate and postdoctoral level takes many forms, including, but not limited to, classroom activity, laboratory or field experience, writing for publication, presentation, and forms of artistic expression. Integrity in all of these activities is of paramount importance, and the Graduate School of the University of Connecticut requires that the highest ethical standards in teaching, learning, research, and service be maintained.

Scholarly integrity encompasses “both research integrity and the ethical understanding and skill required of researchers/scholars in domestic, international, and multicultural contexts.” It also addresses “ethical aspects of scholarship that influence the next generation of researchers as teachers, mentors, supervisors, and successful stewards of grant funds” (Council of Graduate Schools, Research and Scholarly Integrity in Graduate Education: A Comprehensive Approach, 2012).

The Graduate Faculty Council, in accordance with the provisions of its By-Laws, has adopted this policy concerning scholarly integrity in graduate education and research and has approved the procedures set forth herein for addressing alleged violations. The Dean of the Graduate School shall coordinate the reporting, investigation, and determination of alleged breaches of scholarly integrity by graduate students and postdoctoral scholars in accordance with this policy. Members of the Graduate Faculty have primary responsibility to foster an environment in which the highest ethical standards prevail. All members of the University community have a responsibility to uphold the highest standards of scholarship, which encompasses activities of teaching, research, and service, and to report any violation of scholarly integrity of which they have knowledge. Instructors have a responsibility to take reasonable steps to prevent scholarly misconduct in their courses and to inform students of course-specific requirements.

Note: Student misconduct other than scholarly misconduct, as defined herein, is governed by The Student Code, which is administered under the direction of the Office of the Provost. Enforcement of its provisions is the responsibility of the Director of Community Standards. At the Health Center, student misconduct other than scholarly misconduct is governed by the Health Center Rules of Conduct.

Definitions of Scholarly Misconduct

Scholarly misconduct is broadly defined as a failure to uphold standards of scholarly integrity in teaching, learning, research, or service. For the purpose of this Policy, scholarly misconduct shall be deemed to include, but not be limited to, the following types of misconduct. The list is not intended to be exhaustive, but does identify major categories of scholarly misconduct, and provides illustrations where appropriate.

Cheating involves dishonesty during a course, on an examination required for a particular degree, or at other times during graduate study, e.g., copying the work of another student.

Plagiarism involves using another person’s language, thoughts, data, ideas, expressions, or other original material without acknowledging the source. (Adapted from Council of Writing Program Administrators, Defining and Avoiding Plagiarism: The WPA Statement on Best Practices, 2003).

Distorted reporting involves “any omission or misrepresentation of the information necessary and sufficient to evaluate the validity and significance of research, at the level appropriate to the context in which the research is communicated” (D. Fanelli, Nature, 494:149; 2013).

Fabrication or falsification of grades involves any form of falsification of coursework or tampering with grades, e.g., a student making unauthorized changes to her/his own grades or an instructor consciously misreporting grades of students.

Misrepresentation involves taking an examination for another student, submitting work done by another individual as one’s own, submitting the same work for evaluation in two or more courses without prior approval, unauthorized use of previously completed work or research for a thesis, dissertation, or publication, or making false, inaccurate, or misleading claims or statements when applying for admission to the Graduate School or in any scholarly or research activity, including publication.

Academic or research disruption involves unauthorized possession, use, or destruction of examinations, library materials, laboratory or research supplies or equipment, research data, notebooks, or computer files, or it might involve tampering with, sabotage of, or piracy of computer hardware, computer software, or network components.

Fabrication or falsification in research involves falsification of, tampering with, or fabricating results or data.

Research violations include violation of protocols governing the use of human or animal subjects, breaches of confidentiality, obstruction of the research progress of another individual, or disregard for applicable University, local, State, or federal regulations.

Professional misconduct involves violation of standards governing the professional conduct of students in particular fields (e.g., pharmacy, nursing, education, counseling, therapy).

Deliberate obstruction involves hindering investigation of any alleged act of scholarly misconduct.

Aiding or abetting involves actions that assist or encourage another individual to plan or commit any act of scholarly misconduct.

A version of this policy was first approved and adopted by the Board of Trustees on November 10, 1998. It was amended on April 24, 2013. This version was approved and adopted by the Board of Trustees on March 26, 2014.

Addressing Allegations of Scholarly Misconduct

Allegations of scholarly misconduct will be addressed in accordance with the procedures set forth below. If a graduate student accused of scholarly misconduct is part of a combined degree program, the appropriate Associate Dean of the Graduate School (whether for Storrs and the regional campuses or UConn Health) and the academic leader of the other degree program will determine whether the complaint will be addressed in accordance with these procedures or in accordance with those of the other degree program, using the procedures of the program to which the alleged misconduct is more germane.

Misconduct Allegedly Committed Within an Academic Course

When an instructor or relevant dean or department head believes that an act of scholarly misconduct within an academic course has occurred, the procedures set forth below shall be followed:

The instructor, dean or department head who believes that scholarly misconduct has occurred within an academic course (the Complainant) shall retain all evidence of the alleged misconduct in its original form.

Original papers or other materials need not be returned to the accused student. Copies of the accused student’s work will be provided upon request. All instructors within the course shall be notified of the allegation and the proposed academic consequences before the student is notified of the alleged misconduct.

Within 30 business days of becoming aware of alleged misconduct, the Complainant shall notify the accused student and their major advisor in writing of the allegation of misconduct and the academic consequences to be imposed. The notice shall be sent by the Complainant to the accused student by email, to the student’s official University email address, and, if appropriate, by first class mail, postage prepaid, to the mailing address on file with the University. The notification shall advise the student that they have 10 business days from the date the notice is sent via email to contact the Complainant to address the alleged misconduct and/or file an appeal, and that if the student fails to do so, the academic consequences described in the notice shall be imposed. The Complainant will provide a copy of the written notification sent to the accused student to the Graduate School, and also will maintain a copy. (Complainant may use the Scholarly Misconduct Graduate School Reporting Form). The Graduate School shall notify the Complainant of the receipt of an appeal filed by the accused student within five business days. If an appeal is filed, the Complainant shall within five business days forward to the Graduate School information supporting the allegation.

An accused student may file an appeal in writing with the Graduate School. Please see the Complaint, Appeal and Hearing Procedures of the Graduate School.

The procedures for evaluating the appeal and referral to a hearing will follow the guidelines set forth in the Complaint, Appeal and Hearing Procedures of the Graduate School.

A student who has been notified that they have been accused of scholarly misconduct may not withdraw from the course in which the alleged misconduct has occurred without the approval of the Dean of the Graduate School. If a semester concludes before a scholarly misconduct matter is resolved, the student shall receive a temporary “I” (Incomplete) grade in the course until the instructor submits the appropriate grade.

Misconduct Allegedly Committed Outside of an Academic Course

A substantial portion of graduate and postdoctoral study takes place in contexts where they are not students within a course (e.g., serving as a teaching or research assistant, working as an intern, conducting research and disseminating findings, and taking a written or oral general exam). Allegations of scholarly misconduct committed outside of an academic course will be addressed according to the procedures described in this section. When any person (the Complainant) believes that an act of scholarly misconduct outside of an academic course has occurred, the procedures set forth below shall be followed:

The Complainant shall retain the evidence of the alleged misconduct in its original form.

Within 30 business days of becoming aware of alleged misconduct, the Complainant shall notify the accused person and if applicable, their major advisor, in writing of the allegation of misconduct and the course of action to be taken. The course of action will include academic consequences and if appropriate, referral to entities inside or outside the University for further investigation. The Complainant shall send the notice to the accused person by email, to the student’s official University email address, and if appropriate, by first class mail, postage prepaid, to the mailing address on file with the University. The notification shall advise the student that there are 10 business days from the date the notice is sent via email to file an appeal through the Graduate School and that if the student fails to do so, the course of action and any academic consequences described in the notice will be imposed. The Complainant will provide a copy of the written notification sent to the accused student to the Graduate School, and also will maintain a copy. The Graduate School shall notify the Complainant of the receipt of an appeal filed by the accused student within five business days. If an appeal is filed, the Complainant shall forward to the Graduate School information supporting the allegation within five business days.

The accused person may file an appeal through the Graduate School. Please see the Complaint, Appeal and Hearing Procedures of the Graduate School. Examples of referrals to inside or outside the University include:

Cases involving allegations of research misconduct on a sponsored project by graduate students or postdoctoral scholars enrolled at Storrs or regional campuses will be referred to the Vice President for Research for review under the Policy on Alleged Misconduct in Research. Cases involving allegations of research misconduct by students enrolled at the Health Center will be referred to the Research Integrity Officer for action under the Policy on Review of Alleged Misconduct of Research.

Cases involving alleged violation of standards governing the codes of conduct for students in professional fields (e.g., pharmacy, nursing, education, counseling, and therapy) may be subject to additional review by other entities inside or outside the University (e.g., professional organizations or credentialing boards).