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.

All incoming doctoral and master's students in the Arts and Sciences at Columbia are required to complete an academic integrity tutorial prior to arrival on campus. 

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.

Resources for Plagiarism Education

Beyond the academic integrity tutorial sent to incoming students each year, students should consult the following resources for further information:

Resources for Responsible Conduct of Research

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.