Guidelines: Ethical Expectations
UROP expects participants to conduct themselves with the same integrity and high standards of conduct expected of all members of the MIT community. The Institute is extraordinarily diverse, and the ability to work with others is important.
Students are urged to meet with their supervisors to discuss issues of data handling, research practices, laboratory rules, etc., and to share expectations regarding records and reporting of time spent on a project. Faculty are expected to be available to students, to answer questions and treat student researchers fairly.
- Academic and financial fraud is the fabrication or falsification of data or attendance records; theft of materials, supplies, or ideas; plagiarism; deliberate interference with the integrity of the work of others. Fraud of any kind will not be tolerated.
- Harassment is defined as verbal or physical conduct with the intent or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual's or group's educational or work environment. Any form of harassment is unacceptable.
To help you understand your role in the lab and expectations, be sure to do the following when beginning your research:
- Find out what your research is about. Find out how it relates to other work in the field. Ask many questions!
- Ask who will be responsible for your supervision (including who approves your weekly timecard) if your research supervisor is away.
- Clarify which charges to a research account are allowable, and which are not.
- Clarify who will retain custody of primary, original data, be it gathered in the field or in the laboratory.
- Find out what conventions or rules in your field of research differ from those that apply to other types of research.
When conducting your research, be sure to follow the guidelines for ethical research behavior, outlined below:
- Never destroy primary, original data, no matter how rough its form. Colleagues and/or other readers of published results may raise questions that can only be answered by referring to such data.
- Make sure that you are able to replicate any and all original data and/or experiments before proceeding to a subsequent step in your research (usually the analysis and conclusion).
- Ask your research supervisor about data in your work that you perceive as inconsistent and/or inconclusive.
- Review the Safety, Intellectual Property & Patents section of this site and ask your UROP supervisor about specific issues such as patents and copyrights, environmental health and safety, care of laboratory animals, etc., that may pertain to your UROP.
Finally, when the time comes to write up your results, remember to:
- Find out what criteria are used for authorship of manuscripts in your research group.
- When you are writing a manuscript with multiple authors, verify what part of the manuscript falls within your jurisdiction, and find out which of the authors is designated as the party responsible for the entire manuscript.
- Always give proper acknowledgment of your sources, whether they are articles, books, or conversation.
- Ask your research supervisor about quoting and/or paraphrasing sources of information.
- Ask your research supervisor or advisor for advice when you are unsure, even in the slightest, about an issue in your UROP. It is better to ask too many questions than too few. Learn from your mistakes; they are often the most valuable experiences in your education.
For more information, contact:
- Michael Bergren, Associate Dean
Room 7-104, x3-8801
- Melissa Martin-Greene, Program Coordinator-UROP
Room 7-104, x3-3002
- Sara Nelson , Staff Associate, Research Initiatives
Room 7-104, x3-0751
Any instances of harassment, fraud, or other violations may be referred to appropriate Institute channels for disciplinary action. Students who are concerned about improper or unethical behavior--or who may have observed it--are encouraged to consult with the relevant department head, UROP staff, or one of the following individuals:
- Kim Vandiver, Dean of Undergraduate Research
Room 7-133, x3-4366
- Mary P. Rowe, Special Assistant to the President
Room 10-213, x3-5921
- Toni Robinson, Ombudsperson
Room 10-213, x3-5921
Institute guidelines governing the reporting and investigation of alleged instances of fraud can be found in Policies and Procedures: A Guide for Faculty and Staff Members , section 10.0, " Academic Misconduct and Dishonesty ." Institute guidelines concerning harassment can be found in Dealing with Harassment at MIT.