Graduate Student Research Misconduct: Falsification

Graduate Research Is Important and Valuable

If you are a graduate student at a U.S. college or university doing research, you are enjoying a remarkable, important, and valuable privilege. Relatively few individuals get to graduate school. While the number of graduate students and degrees has been growing, graduate education is still inaccessible to many and a privilege to the relatively few who pursue it. Graduate research is also fascinating and enormously stimulating, so much so that it grows not only the graduate student's intellectual skills but also the student's intellectual capacity. Your graduate research may also produce valuable knowledge, valuable not just to you but also to your school and its constituents like government grant funders, alumni, professional associations, and partner businesses and nonprofit organizations. If you are doing graduate research, enjoy and value it. Continue your laudable work with appropriate ambition.

Graduate Research Must Have Integrity

At the same time that you pursue your graduate research, recognize that you must perform that research within your college or university's research standards. Research has its customs, conventions, ethics, and acceptable practices, just like every other technical, scientific, or professional pursuit. Ethical principles and conduct rules ensure that the actor is achieving task aims. In the case of graduate research, those aims include your education as a student and your school's production of reliable knowledge. The student who takes shortcuts and cheats in graduate research undermines the school's assessment and certification of the student's skill and achievements. The student who takes shortcuts and cheats in graduate research also taints the body of research that the school presents to the world for its use and benefit. Your school must ensure the integrity of your graduate research for your own benefit and the school's benefit. Respect the school's interests and your own interests.

Graduate Research Invites Falsification

Let's face it: graduate research invites the student to alter and falsify results. The U.S. Office of Science and Technology Policy defines falsification as “manipulating research materials, equipment, or processes, or changing or omitting data or results, such that the research is not accurately represented in the research record.” The reason that research invites falsification is that research often doesn't produce what the researcher needs and expects. Research that doesn't produce useful results can seem to the hardworking and pressured graduate student like wasted research, even though research dead ends are instead important investigations in themselves. Falsification of data and results can magically, if unethically, produce what the graduate student needs to satisfy supervisors and complete course and degree requirements, not to mention earn recognition, honors, and employment offers. One university, for example, publishes a top five of notorious research falsification cases. One way or another, those cases all show the researchers' overzealous ambition. Don't get overly ambitious. Don't take shortcuts. Do the work and live with the results.

Graduate Research Codes Prohibit Falsification

Colleges and universities across the country uniformly prohibit graduate research falsification. The University of Missouri System, for instance, maintains under its academic conduct policies a Standard of Conduct that prohibits all forms of academic dishonesty while incorporating all other university policies. The University of Missouri System then maintains a specific Research Misconduct Policy No. 420.10 that expressly prohibits falsification under the same definition above that the U.S. Office of Science and Technology Policy gives it. Policy No. 420.10 states that it applies to all university research. The University of Missouri's Standard of Conduct prohibiting academic dishonesty in all forms would, in any case, incorporate the research misconduct policy. Students at the University of Missouri and other colleges and universities across the country must not falsify graduate research at the peril of violating their school's academic code.

Falsification May Lead to Research Misconduct Charges

Colleges and universities across the country don't just prohibit the falsification of graduate research. They also authorize disciplinary officials to investigate, detect, and punish falsification of graduate research. Those codes, like the University of Missouri codes cited above, authorize a wide range of sanctions for research falsification and other academic misconduct. Sanctions can include everything from reprimands with counseling and education up to suspension or permanent dismissal from the school. The graduate student who faces research falsification charges has everything on the line. Don't take falsification charges lightly. Ignoring falsification charges, or failing to mount a strong defense, could result in school dismissal and the long-term collateral consequences that follow. Those collateral consequences of research falsification can include losing the ability to transfer or gain admission to another school, lost jobs and careers, and the inability to earn a professional or vocational license. School dismissal can have other severe financial and social impacts, too. Treat falsification charges seriously.

Graduate Research Falsification Procedures

When a college or university suspects graduate research falsification, it will follow elaborate academic misconduct procedures, like those the University of Missouri maintains in its policies cited above. Those procedures can be lengthy, detailed, and complex. They will include notice to the accused student and give the accused student an opportunity to explain the circumstances. Procedures will also include the school's investigation and, if the investigation produces evidence of falsification, a written report to an academic conduct official or panel. The academic conduct official or panel must give the accused student an opportunity to respond to the school's evidence of falsification. The student who admits falsification, attempts to excuse falsification in some way, and seeks the mercy of conduct officials may find mercy in short supply. Colleges and universities will generally sanction research falsification, sometimes severely, unless the accused student can produce reliable exonerating or mitigating evidence.

Defending Graduate Research Falsification Charges

If you face graduate research falsification charges, you need a skilled and experienced academic administrative attorney's help. Don't attempt to handle the charges on your own. Even if you have skill and experience in academic misconduct charges, which you very likely do not, representing yourself would still be unwise. Your emotions and interest will cloud your judgment. Instead, promptly retain national academic administrative attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm‘s academic misconduct defense team to defend those falsification charges. You can trust attorney Lento because he has helped hundreds of students nationwide defend and defeat academic misconduct charges, including graduate students facing falsification charges. Your graduate education is worth protecting and preserving. Get the skilled and experienced academic administrative attorney help you need. Call 888-535-3686 or go online now.