Academic Integrity and Responsible Conduct of Research

Students should be aware that academic dishonesty (for example, plagiarism, cheating on an examination, or dishonesty in dealing with a faculty member or other university official) or the threat of violence or harassment are particularly serious offenses and will be dealt with severely under Dean’s Discipline.

Graduate students are expected to exhibit the high level of personal and academic integrity and honesty required of all members of an academic community as they engage in scholarly discourse and research.

Scholars draw inspiration from the work done by other scholars; they argue their claims with reference to others’ work; they extract evidence from the world or from earlier scholarly works. When a student engages in these activities, it is vital to credit properly the source of his or her claims or evidence. Failing to do so violates one’s scholarly responsibility.

In practical terms, students must not cheat on examinations, and deliberate plagiarism is of course prohibited. Plagiarism includes buying, stealing, borrowing, or otherwise obtaining all or part of a paper (including obtaining or posting a paper online); hiring someone to write a paper; copying from or paraphrasing another source without proper citation or falsification of citations; and building on the ideas of another without citation. Students also should not submit the same paper to more than one class. This information is adapted from the material published by Purdue University's Online Writing Lab.

Graduate students are responsible for proper citation and paraphrasing, and must also take special care to avoid even accidental plagiarism. The best strategy is to use great caution in the handling of ideas and prose passages: take notes carefully and clearly mark words and ideas not one’s own. When in doubt, consult your professor. Failure to observe these rules of conduct will result in serious academic consequences, which can include dismissal from the university.

Students engaging in research must be aware of and follow university policies regarding intellectual and financial conflicts of interest, integrity, and security in data collection and management, intellectual property rights, and data ownership, and necessary institutional approval for research with human subjects and animals.

Academic integrity concerns honest research practices as much as avoiding plagiarism. Research misconduct falls into three categories: plagiarism, falsification, and fabrication. Falsification includes purposeful manipulation, modification, or omission of data or results. Fabrication is the making up of data or results and the recording or reporting thereof. The university does not tolerate any form of research misconduct, and violation of this policy may result in serious sanctions, including termination.

The Columbia graduate classroom, whether real or virtual, is a vital and dynamic space for learning, sustained by the expectation that the class experience is shared only by participants in the course. The free and respectful exchange of ideas is the foundation of teaching and learning and can occur only if all course participants agree as a matter of academic integrity (subject to standard penalties) to respect the guidelines established below.

To support and sustain the class experience, the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences sets forth the following expectations, pertaining both to course materials and to course meetings:

  • Course materials, including handouts, readings, slides, and attendant materials must not be broadly shared, distributed, or sold outside the course environment (including on social media) without permission of the instructor. They must be understood as the product of instructors’ intellectual work, and treated as their property.
  • The contents of class discussion and breakout rooms may not be circulated outside the classroom, in whole or in part, for non-educational purposes (e.g., on social media) or outside the Columbia community. Students are expected to respect the complex dynamics of class discussion and use discretion when repeating the ideas of others outside of the classroom. The audio and visual recordings of class discussion and breakout rooms belong to the course participants and must be understood in the context of the course. This is especially crucial to protect the identity of speakers; in certain circumstances, failure to do so could be a form of bullying and could endanger course participants.
  • Recordings of class sessions must not be shared, in whole or in part, with those outside the class. Students are not permitted to record any portion of class sessions without the explicit consent of the instructor.

Columbia’s Office of Research Compliance and Training offers a variety of useful training materials and information.

Columbia University also offers Responsible Conduct of Research training developed by the Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative, or CITI Program, at the University of Miami. Students who are or will be supported by funding from the NIH or NSF are required to complete this training. All GSAS students, however, stand to benefit from the training, which explores graduate students’ rights and responsibilities across a variety of disciplines, and addresses how to identify and prevent accidental misconduct as well as mistreatment and abuse from others.

The training is specific to one of four divisions (biomedical sciences, humanities, physical sciences, and social and behavioral sciences) and includes modules on the following topics:

  • Intellectual property rights, attribution, and criteria for claiming authorship of publications
  • Ownership of data produced at the university and how is it managed
  • The process of peer review and potential obstacles to publication
  • Regulations and requirements for research involving human subjects
  • Conflicts of interest, financial relationships with industry partners, and entrepreneurship
  • The advantages and possible challenges of collaborative research
  • Research misconduct, including plagiarism, falsification, and fabrication
  • Mentoring and career development

To complete the training, you will need to register with the CITI Program website. From the CITI Program homepage, click “Register,” then search for “Columbia University” as the Affiliate Organization. Continue through the registration process and provide your UNI when prompted. Once you have registered and logged in, click on “Main Menu,” then “Add a Course.” Choose “Responsible Conduct of Research Training,” followed by your field (Biomedical, Social and Behavioral Sciences, Humanities, or Physical Sciences). You will then be able to begin the course.