Cases of ethical
lapses emanating from institutions of scientific research are increasingly
being reported in the news. In this context, we need to create awareness
and come up with a set of clear guidelines to maintain academic integrity.
A flourishing academic environment entails individual and community
responsibility for doing so.
broad categories of improper academic behaviour that will be considered
are: I) plagiarism, II) cheating and III) conflict of interest.
is the use of material, ideas, figures, code or data without appropriate
acknowledgement or permission (in some cases) of the original source.
This may involve submission of material, verbatim or paraphrased, that
is authored by another person or published earlier by oneself.
Examples of plagiarism include:
in whole or part, text/sentences from a report, book, thesis, publication
one's own previously published data, illustrations, figures, images,
or someone else's data, etc.
material from class-notes or downloading material from internet sites,
and incorporating it in one's class reports, presentations, manuscripts
or thesis without citing the original source.
(iv) Self plagiarism
which constitutes copying verbatim from one's own earlier published
work in a journal or conference proceedings without appropriate citations.
given at the end of this document explain how to carry out proper referencing,
more examples of plagiarism and how to avoid it.
Cheating is another form of unacceptable academic behaviour and
may be classified into different categories:
- Copying during exams,
and copying of homework assignments, term papers or manuscripts. Allowing
or facilitating copying, or writing a report or exam for someone else.
- Using unauthorized
material, copying, collaborating when not authorized, and purchasing
or borrowing papers or material from various sources.
- Fabricating (making
up) or falsifying (manipulating) data and reporting them in thesis and
Some guidelines for academic
conduct are provided below to guard against negligence as well as deliberate
- Use proper methodology
for experiments and computational work. Accurately describe and compile
- Carefully record
and save primary and secondary data such as original pictures, instrument
data readouts, laboratory notebooks, and computer folders. There should
be minimal digital manipulation of images/photos; the original version
should be saved for later scrutiny, if required, and the changes made
should be clearly described.
- Ensure robust reproducibility
and statistical analysis of experiments and simulations. It is important
to be truthful about the data and not to omit some data points to make
an impressive figure (commonly known as “cherry picking”).
- Lab notebooks must
be well maintained in bound notebooks with printed page numbers to enable
checking later during publications or patent. Date should be indicated
on each page.
- Write clearly in
your own words. It is necessary to resist the temptation to “copy
and paste” from the Internet or other sources for class assignments,
manuscripts and thesis.
- Give due credit
to previous reports, methods, computer programs etc with appropriate
citations. Material taken from your own published work should
also be cited; as mentioned above, it will be considered self-plagiarism
A clash of
personal or private interests with professional activites can lead to
a potential conflict of interest, in diverse activities such as teaching,
research, publication, work on committees, research funding and consultancy.
It is necessary to protect actual professional independence, objectivity
and commitment, and also to avoid an appearance of any impropriety arising
from conflicts on interest. Conflict of interest is not restricted to
personal financial gain; it extends to a large gamut of professional
academic activities including peer reviewing, serving on various committees,
which may, for example, oversee funding or give recognition, as
well as influencing public policy. To promote transparency and
enhance credibility, potential conflicts of interests must be disclosed
in writing to appropriate authorities, so that a considered decision
can be made on a case-by-case basis. Some additional information
is available also in the section below dealing with resources.
and Collective Responsibility:
roles: Before submitting a thesis (M.E., M.Sc., or Ph.D.) to the
department, the student is responsible for checking the thesis for plagiarism
using software that is available on the web (see resources below). In
addition, the student should certify that they are aware of the academic
guidelines of the Institute, have checked their document for plagiarism,
and that the thesis is original work. A web-check does not necessarily
rule out plagiarism.
roles: Faculty should ensure that proper methods are followed for
experiments, computations, and theoretical developments, and that data
are properly recorded and saved for future reference. In addition, they
should review manuscripts and theses carefully. Apart from the
student certification regarding a web-check for plagiarism for theses,
the Institute will provide some commercial software at SERC for plagiarism
checking. Faculty members are encouraged to use this facility for checking
reports, theses and manuscripts.
are also responsible for ensuring personal compliance with the above
broad issues relating to academic integrity
A breach of academic integrity is a serious offence with long lasting
consequences for both the individual and the institute, and this can
lead to various sanctions.
In the case of a student the
first violation of academic breach will lead to a warning and/or an
“F” course grade. A repeat offence, if deemed sufficiently serious,
could lead to expulsion. It is recommended that faculty bring any academic
violations to the notice of the department chairman.
Upon receipt of reports of
scientific misconduct, the Director may appoint a committee to investigate
the matter and suggest appropriate measures on a case to case basis.
Academy of Sciences article “On being a scientist,”