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Home » Rackham Graduate School Academic Policies » 8. Rackham Academic and Professional Integrity Policy

8. Rackham Academic and Professional Integrity Policy

Integrity in research and scholarship is a fundamental value of the University of Michigan. It is the responsibility of all students to conduct research and scholarly activities in an ethical manner at all times. An indispensable part of graduate education is for students to become knowledgeable about the responsible conduct of research and scholarship appropriate to their discipline or field of study. Students are responsible for understanding and observing the graduate school’s academic and professional integrity policy. Students are also expected to understand and maintain standards of integrity and professional conduct endorsed by their program that are particular to their field of study and research.

This policy defines serious violations of academic integrity. Allegations of violations will lead to inquiries conducted under the authority of the graduate school or other schools and colleges, and may result in the imposition of disciplinary actions. Procedures for these inquiries are described below (see section 9.3).

Other units in the university maintain campus-wide policies and procedures concerning personal conduct including sexual harassment and misconduct; assault, theft, cyber-misconduct, and other violations; discrimination and harassment in the workplace; conflict of interest; use of information technology resources; misconduct in sponsored research; protocols for the conduct of research involving human subjects and animal use; and requirements concerning export controls and access restrictions for certain technologies. Students engaged in research are expected to understand and follow the policies and regulations that apply to their investigations.

8.1 Forms of Academic and Professional Misconduct

Offenses against the standards of academic integrity include the following categories of misconduct. These categories are not limited to the violations listed below, but may include other forms of misconduct.

8.1.1 Cheating or Obtaining an Improper Advantage


  • Copying from another’s exam or other evaluative assignment
  • Using notes, books, digital devices or resources, or other materials for an exam or other evaluative assignment without explicit permission of the instructor
  • Submitting work that was previously used for another class without the informed permission of the instructor
  • Discussing or sharing information about questions or answers on an exam or other evaluative assignment without explicit permission of the instructor
  • Giving, taking, or receiving a copy of an exam without explicit permission of the instructor
  • Allowing another person to take an exam or complete an assignment for the student
  • Attempting to change the result of an exam or other evaluation

8.1.2 Plagiarism


  • Representing the words, ideas, or work of others as one’s own in writing or presentations, and failing to give full and proper credit to the original source
  • Failing to properly acknowledge and cite language from another source, including paraphrased text
  • Failing to properly cite any ideas, images, technical work, creative content, or other material taken from published or unpublished sources in any medium, including online material or oral presentations, and including the author’s own previous work

8.1.3 Research Misconduct


  • The falsification of data, including the dishonest reporting of investigative results: i.e., tampering, manipulating, omitting, selective editing, or altering of laboratory or field data and research notes or records in a way that is deceptive and misrepresents investigative results
  • The fabrication of data, including deception by inventing and misrepresenting laboratory or
  • field data and research notes or records
  • Data theft, including taking or using any data, methods, or procedures that are the work or property of others without permission and proper acknowledgment
  • Interfering, inhibiting, or damaging the research of others
  • Misuse of human subjects, including failure to obtain prior review and approval by the proper Institutional Review Board and failure to safeguard the well-being and private information of persons who participate in research
  • Misuse of laboratory animals, including failure to secure prior review and approval by the University Committee on Use and Care of Animals and failure to provide humane care, handling, and treatment in accordance with university policies
  • Material failure to comply with legal requirements governing research

8.1.4 Dishonesty in Publication


  • Knowingly attempting to publish information or research that is false, fabricated, deceptive, or misleading, or contains the plagiarized work of others
  • Attempting to publish work without the permission and full and proper credit of others who have collaborated or contributed to the research, and to deny joint authorship, when appropriate
  • The listing as authors of persons who did not contribute to the work
  • Abuse of the peer review process, including simultaneous submission of a manuscript or abstract to more than one journal without approval from the respective editors; submission of previously published material without clarifying the extent of the previously published material; submission of a manuscript without the permission/agreement of all authors; and other actions and conflicts of interest that undermine the integrity of the peer review process

8.1.5 Abuse of Confidentiality

Includes unauthorized sharing or releasing information of others, including public or private sponsors, concerning ideas, data, research, grant proposals, manuscripts, patent applications, proprietary information, or other projects or activities that were given with the expectation that these would not be disclosed.

8.1.6 Misuse of Computer Facilities

Includes violations of the University’s Technology Policies for proper use of information resource infrastructure, sharing of information, privacy and security, data management, and digital copyright.

8.1.7 Misuse of Hazardous Substances in Research-Related Activities

Includes unauthorized possession, use, or distribution to others of dangerous or legally restricted chemical, biological, or radiological materials.

8.1.8 Fabrication, Falsification, or Unauthorized Modification of an Academic Record

Includes alterations to transcripts, grades, letters of recommendation, or other evaluations by or for any current or former student.

8.1.9 Obstruction of the Academic Activities and Research of Another

Includes harassment, intimidation, or tampering with experimental data, research records and notes, written documents, creative products, technical equipment or chemicals, or with any object of study.

8.1.10 Illegal or Unauthorized Use of University Resources

Illegal or unauthorized use of university resources for the procurement, use, distribution, or sale of supplies, equipment, or other material.

8.1.11 Other Forms of Academic Misconduct and Attempted Academic Misconduct

Engaging in other forms of academic misconduct that seriously deviate from standards of scholarly and scientific community. Attempted academic misconduct, or any effort to aid or encourage the academic misconduct of others, is a violation of this policy

8.1.12 Professional Misconduct


  • Misrepresentation of one’s credentials or status, or failure to correct others’ inaccuracies or misrepresentation of one’s credentials, including professional experience and positions held (paid or unpaid) and timeframe
  • Unethical consulting activity, including misrepresentation of one’s status, credentials, or expertise to secure a consulting assignment; unauthorized disclosure of confidential information; and knowingly taking on an assignment without the necessary knowledge or expertise
  • Conflicts of interest, including conflicts that promote, benefit, or protect one’s self, family, friends, or business colleagues, unless these conflicts have been disclosed and have an approved management plan
  • Failure to protect confidential records in accordance with relevant professional standards
  • Other fraudulent behavior, including actions that the appropriate dean believes to call into question the student’s ability to ethically and competently join the profession
  • Attempting professional misconduct or aiding or encouraging misconduct by others

Other violations of State or Federal laws or University policies brought to the attention of the graduate school that are not explicitly mentioned in this policy will be evaluated to determine if they will be investigated as a violation of this policy.

8.2 Handling Allegations of Misconduct

8.2.1 Inquiries Concerning Non-Academic Misconduct

Criminal misconduct must be reported to the Division of Public Safety and Security. Allegations of other kinds of non-academic misconduct should be referred to the offices responsible for enforcing these university regulations and policies. These offices will inform the Rackham Resolution Officer when complaints involve Rackham students, and will consult with the Resolution Officer to determine how to proceed. These offices will inform the Resolution Officer in writing of the resolution of any case involving a Rackham student.

When a complaint involves both academic and non-academic misconduct, the non-academic complaint(s) will be resolved first and then the Resolution Officer will determine if additional action should be taken.

8.2.2 Who Conducts Investigations into Allegations of Academic and Professional Misconduct

The following schools and colleges maintain and use separate procedures for handling academic and professional misconduct by their students, including those who are in Rackham programs. The schools and colleges listed below also will use their procedures when students from other academic units, including students in dual degree programs, are alleged to have committed misconduct in a course that has its primary academic home in these units.

Schools or colleges that use their own procedures will inform the Resolution Officer when an inquiry is initiated into possible misconduct by a Rackham student.

The graduate school is responsible for fair and consistent enforcement of sanctions for offenses committed by Rackham students. Schools or colleges that use their own procedures will inform the Resolution Officer when a Rackham student has been found responsible for a violation and will consult before assessing a sanction.

Schools or colleges may recommend certain sanctions to Rackham that can only be authorized by the graduate school, including the suspension or expulsion of a student or the withholding or retraction of a Rackham degree.

The graduate school will handle allegations involving Rackham students in all other programs, including all programs involving more than one school or college.

For an incident that occurs in a laboratory, library, computer facility, or other research unit, the head of the unit will notify the Resolution Officer who will consult with the student’s academic program and the Office of the General Counsel, if necessary, to determine where the allegation shall be investigated.

8.2.3 Reporting Allegations of Misconduct to Rackham

With exceptions indicated above in section 8.2.2, Rackham’s Resolution Officer oversees procedures for managing allegations of academic and professional misconduct by Rackham students.

This policy applies to Rackham students who are alleged to have violated Rackham’s Academic Integrity Policy or the honor code or academic integrity policy of their school or college. It also applies to former students who were enrolled in a Rackham program or course at the time of the alleged infraction, including those who have completed a Rackham degree.

A faculty member or other reporting witness who finds evidence of academic misconduct must notify Rackham’s Resolution Officer and provide evidence in writing as soon as possible. Preliminary Inquiry

  • The Resolution Officer will review the allegation with the reporting witness to determine if the complaint merits further consideration by Rackham or referral to other offices responsible for university policies and regulations.
  • If no basis is found for proceeding with further consideration, the case may be dismissed or resolved informally and no record will be kept. If the reporting witness or program representative objects to informal resolution, they may ask the Dean or the Dean’s designee to reconsider this decision.
  • When the assessment determines that there is a basis for further consideration by Rackham, the Resolution Officer will give written notice to the student with details of the alleged violations. The Resolution Officer will meet with the student to review the allegations and ask for an explanation. The student will respond to the allegations within ten business days of this meeting.
  • Based on interviews and the information that has been gathered, the Resolution Officer will recommend whether or not the preliminary inquiry has established grounds for a formal hearing. With the concurrence of the Rackham Dean, the Resolution Officer will notify the student in writing of the outcome of the preliminary inquiry.
  • If no basis is found for proceeding with formal consideration, the case will be dismissed or resolved informally and no record will be kept.
  • If it is found that grounds exist for a formal hearing, the Resolution Officer will notify the student in writing of the charges and refer the case to a Rackham Hearing Board. Copies will be sent to the student’s program and the reporting witness.

8.2.4 Procedures for Academic Misconduct Hearings The Hearing Board

A Hearing Board will be convened to adjudicate a complaint. It gathers information, holds a formal inquiry, determines if misconduct occurred, and submits findings and recommendations for sanctions (if appropriate) to the Rackham Dean. The Board members are drawn from a pool of faculty and students appointed to the Rackham Integrity Panel. A full Board consists of two faculty members and one graduate student. No one will serve who has a conflict of interest. One faculty member serves as Chair. The Resolution Officer will advise the Board, the reporting witness, and the student about this policy and procedures to be followed. Graduate Program Representative

The academic unit where the alleged misconduct occurred may select a graduate program representative to participate in the hearing. The representative may be the reporting witness, a department chair or program director, a faculty administrator, or other faculty member. The representative may make an opening statement; respond to the student’s opening statement; introduce evidence; call witnesses; question the student and all witnesses; and make a concluding statement. Student Advisor

The student may bring an advisor to the Board hearing. The advisor may be a faculty member, administrator, friend or counselor, or an attorney. The student must notify the Resolution Officer in advance that an advisor will be present and if the advisor is an attorney. The advisor is not an advocate, but may provide personal support for the student. The advisor may not participate directly in the proceedings and may not address the Board. Preparation of Evidence

Before the hearing, the reporting witness(es) and the student will provide the Resolution Officer with any documents to be offered as evidence. All information will be provided in advance to all parties. With the unanimous agreement of the Board, however, documents may be introduced for the first time at the hearing. Witnesses

The student, the graduate program representative, and the Board itself may present information and call witnesses. A list of witnesses must be made available to all parties before the hearing. Witnesses may wish to make an opening statement but need not do so. The student, the graduate program representative, and members of the Board may question all witnesses. Witnesses are expected to tell the truth, and shall be present at the hearing only during their testimony. Procedures of the Hearing Board

The Resolution Officer will provide all parties with advance written notice of the date and location of the Hearing Board meeting and a statement of the general format and procedures that will be followed, including the student’s rights. During the hearing the Resolution Officer will serve as a resource to the Board and to all parties. The meeting of the Hearing Board is closed to the public.

  • The Chair may postpone a hearing if the student can establish, in advance and to the satisfaction of the Resolution Officer, that circumstances beyond his or her control make an appearance impossible. If after receiving proper notice the student fails to appear, the Chair may conduct the hearing without the student’s participation.
  • The student may make an opening statement; respond to all statements made during the hearing; introduce evidence; call witnesses and question all witnesses; examine additional evidence provided during the hearing; and make a concluding statement. The student is expected to tell the truth in all dealings with the Resolution Officer and the Board. Intentionally providing false information or attempting to mislead the Resolution Officer or the Board will be taken into account in determining any sanction.
  • The Chair will conduct an orderly and expeditious proceeding and may discourage and exclude repetitious or irrelevant evidence and testimony; bar any person who disrupts a hearing or fails to adhere to hearing guidelines; and adjourn a hearing that has become disorderly.
  • If the student withdraws from the university while allegations are under review, the Board will proceed with or without the student’s participation.
  • Except when the student willfully chooses not to appear, no evidence will be heard or shared in the absence of the student, the graduate program representative (if designated), or any Board member. Recording of the Hearing

Proceedings of the hearing are audio-recorded except for deliberations. Failure to produce or preserve an audible tape is not grounds for setting aside any determinations of the Board. Deliberative Session

The Board deliberates in closed session and uses the preponderance of evidence as a standard of proof. That is, the Board will find a student to be culpable if it determines that the student is more likely than not to have committed an offense. It reaches a decision and recommends any sanctions by consensus, if possible, or by majority vote if consensus cannot be reached. General guidelines for sanctions

The Hearing Board will recommend sanctions to the Rackham dean that are commensurate with the violation(s) found to have occurred. In making its recommendations, the Board will weigh mitigating circumstances and take into account aggravating factors that include, but are not limited to, past misconduct by the student; failure of the student to comply fully with previous sanctions; the degree of intent of the student in committing the violation; the severity and pervasiveness of the misconduct; and conduct during the hearing.

The Board may recommend the following sanctions, singly or in combination. This list is not restrictive; the Board may recommend other penalties that it determines are appropriate to the circumstances of the misconduct. Restitution

Compensation for loss, damage, or injury paid to the appropriate party in the form of service, money, or material replacement. Educational Project

Completion of a class, workshop, or project on the responsible conduct of research and scholarship. Service

Performance of one or more tasks designed to benefit the community and help the student understand why her or his behavior was inappropriate. Corrective Action

Specific actions to redress the misconduct by retraction or correction of research or writing that has been published or presented, resubmission of an assignment, notification to publishers of improper research or authorship credit, or other steps. Formal Reprimand

A written reprimand to the student with a warning that future violations will be dealt with more severely. Grade Change

With the approval of the course instructor, assigning a grade record of No Report or Incomplete for a course or project; reduction of points/letter grade for an assignment or course; or assigning a lower or failing grade for an assignment or course. If a student drops a course after being notified of allegations of academic misconduct, and the student is subsequently found to have committed misconduct for which the Board recommends a sanction of a failing or reduced grade for the course, the course will be restored to the transcript and the new grade will be assigned. Course Repeat

The requirement that a course be repeated. Disciplinary Probation

Designation of a period of time during which the student is not in good standing. This may involve restrictions of privileges, the setting of behavioral expectations or other requirements, and the prescription of consequences for failing to meet probationary terms. The Registrar will note probation on the student’s transcript. Restriction from Employment at the University

Prohibition or limitation on university employment. Removal from Specific Courses or Restriction from Particular Activities, Services, or Locations Suspension

Separation from the university for a specified period of time or until stipulated conditions are met and suspension is lifted. The Registrar will note suspension on the transcript and place an academic hold on the student’s record for the duration of the suspension. The Rackham Dean will consult with the dean of the student’s school or college in imposing this sanction. Expulsion

Permanent dismissal from the program and separation from the university, which will be noted on the transcript. This sanction may only be authorized by the graduate school; schools or colleges that use their own academic integrity procedures may recommend this sanction to the Rackham Dean. Withholding a Degree

Withholding a degree for a determined period of time or until the student has met certain conditions to comply with sanctions. This sanction may only be authorized by the graduate school; schools or colleges that use their own academic integrity procedures may recommend this sanction to the Rackham Dean. Revoking a Degree

The Board may recommend that a degree that has been awarded be revoked if it determines that the facts of misconduct, if known before the awarding of the degree, would have resulted in a decision not to confer the degree. This sanction may only be authorized by the graduate school; schools or colleges that use their own academic integrity procedures may recommend this sanction to the Rackham Dean.

8.2.5 Findings and Decision Advisory Report

The Hearing Board will submit a written advisory report notifying the Rackham Dean of its decision, including a summary of findings of fact and the decision of the student’s culpability. If the student is found to have violated academic integrity policies, the report will recommend sanctions and the rationale for these. If the Rackham Dean has a conflict of interest or any other substantial reason that would prevent impartiality, an Associate Dean will receive the report. The report will be shared with the student, the reporting witness, and the Resolution Officer. Review of Recommendations for Sanctions

To maintain consistency and fairness, the Rackham Dean or designee may consult with the Resolution Officer, the Dean of the student’s school or college, and other persons with experience to review the recommended sanctions. The Rackham Dean, at the recommendation of the Resolution Officer, will determine sanctions to be applied, and will communicate the decision in writing to the student. Copies will be provided to the graduate program representative and to other offices and parties at the university directly involved in the hearing. Records

The Resolution Officer will preserve all written and recorded notifications, reports, correspondence, and other materials, together with the recording of the hearing, and maintain a case file that includes attendance, date(s), location(s), and other basic information. The case file will be kept as part of the student’s educational record for at least six years after the student’s final term of enrollment.

8.2.6 Appeal

The student may appeal a decision on grounds that:

  1. procedural error compromised the proceeding;
  2. significant new evidence has become available that was not considered during the hearing; or
  3. the sanctions are excessive or inappropriate relative to the violation. The appeal must include a statement of the grounds for appeal and the supporting facts. Filing an Appeal

An appeal must be made in writing to the Resolution Officer within fifteen business days after receipt of the decision. Requests for exceptions to this deadline must be made within this period. If the appeal includes new evidence, the appeal will be shared with the reporting witness who will have the opportunity to provide a written response.

An Associate Dean of the graduate school will review the request for reconsideration. If the Associate Dean finds that the appeal provides insufficient grounds, the decision will stand with no further appeal. If the Associate Dean finds that the case warrants reconsideration, the Resolution Officer will select an Appeals Board to review the case and make recommendations to the Dean. The Appeals Board

The Appeals Board consists of two faculty members and one graduate student drawn from the Rackham Integrity Panel, and will not include members of the original Hearing Board. No one will serve who has a conflict of interest.

The Appeals Board will evaluate the appeal in the context of the case file. The Appeals Board will see all materials used during the original hearing and all new evidence introduced by either party. The Appeals Board will not re-hear the case or call witnesses except when the members of the Board decide that new evidence is necessary. After reaching a conclusion by consensus, if possible, or by majority vote if consensus cannot be reached, the Appeals Board will make a written recommendation to the Rackham Dean. The recommendation may let stand the original decision and sanctions; revise the sanctions; or reverse the decision of the Hearing Board. Decision and Communication

After receiving the recommendation of the Appeals Board, the Rackham Dean or the Dean’s designee may decide to let the original decision stand; to alter the earlier decision and/or sanctions; or to reverse the original decision.

The Dean or the Dean’s designee will prepare a letter to the student outlining the decision. Copies of the letter will be provided to the representative of the graduate program and to other offices and parties at the university directly involved in the hearing. The decision is final; no further appeal will be heard in the university.