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Academic Integrity and Ethics in Research

Expectations and policies in funding, publishing, and here at Stevens.

Academic Integrity

Whether you are a student or researcher, the term "academic integrity” means to ethically conduct your academic work through accurate reporting of data and citing the work of others.



All Stevens students, whether undergraduate, graduate, or doctoral, must follow the appropriate honor code to remain in good academic standing. "Academic impropriety" is defined as cheating on homework or tests and plagiarizing the work of others.


Researchers must conduct research with honesty and accuracy in order to guarantee the reliability and credibility of the scholarship. A finding of research misconduct usually includes one or more of the following violations:

  • Fabrication of data (making up data)
  • Falsification of data (manipulating data, materials, or equipment)
  • Plagiarism (copying someone else's work)

The consequences for a finding of misconduct can come from the funder as well as the journal editor. As an example, the Code of Federal Regulations states that "a finding of research misconduct" by the National Science Foundation requires the following:

  1. There be a significant departure from accepted practices of the relevant research community; and
  2. The research misconduct be committed intentionally, or knowingly, or recklessly; and
  3. The allegation be proven by a preponderance of evidence.
    (45 CFR § 689, 2012, p. 243)

However, not every mistake or disagreement counts as misconduct:

  • Honest error
  • Difference of opinion

Further Reading

Research Misconduct & Federal Funding

Federal agencies that fund research pay very close attention to where that funding is going.

Different agencies have different means of doing so. All federal agencies have an Office of the Inspector General (OIG); among its other tasks, the OIG of the National Science Foundation tracks use and misuse of agency funding.

For an example of the work done by these offices to track how funding is used, the March 2015 report from the NSF OIG reads, in part:

"We analyzed over 8,000 proposals awarded by NSF in FY 2011 for evidence of plagiarism, and investigated those which appeared serious. We opened 34 plagiarism investigations, ten of which have resulted in NSF making findings of research misconduct. So far, we have recovered $357,602 in federal funds from these investigations." (p. 5)

While the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) also has an OIG, the vast scope of programs overseen by the HHS led to the creation of the Office of Research Integrity to focus specifically on the research funded by HHS grants.

IEEE: A Publisher's View of Misconduct

Author misconduct "may include but is not limited to misrepresenting data, plagiarizing text, or not informing the Editor* that an article had been published, accepted for publication, or concurrently under review by another publication."

Source: IEEE PSPB Operations Manual, Amended November 2021, section 8.2.4.B, p. 108.

*Editor refers "to the person responsible for the publication" (p. 105)

If misconduct is found to have occurred, consequences range from a notice being posted alongside the article in question to the author being banned from submitting articles to IEEE publications for a period of time, potentially permanently if the offense is repeated.

When working on your own article, please note that some journals may require running your article through a plagiarism screen prior to submission.

Be sure to read through a journal's malpractice process before submitting a journal article so you know what's expected of you and what you can expect from the publisher.

Retraction Watch

Retraction Watch: "Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process"

While there are federal agencies that track federal funding, there is as yet no official watchdog of the results of misconduct, specifically misconduct that leads to a paper being retracted and taken out of the public record. The internet has made it easier to track retractions on a large scale, and since 2010 the blog Retraction Watch has reported on retractions as they find them.

The blog, led by two science journalists, takes a journalistic approach to the issue, and they record instances of retractions and provide further information on the subject from the journal editors and paper authors when possible. Their observation of an otherwise amorphous business has made it possible to observe patterns in retractions, and get a better sense of how often papers are pulled.

Head of Research Services

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Vicky Orlofsky
Research Services Department