Dealing with Allegations of Academic Misconduct

The Scholar works within an environment that has been developed for conducting, supporting, and evaluating scholarly research in the single-minded pursuit of truth. Academic fraud…is more than error; it may take the form of falsification or fabrication of data, plagiarism, or grossly negligent data collection or analysis. It is hardly possible to exaggerate the damage that can result from such a breach of the academic commitment to truth. Academic fraud…not only shatters individual careers, but besmirches the entire cause of objective research, undermines the credibility of scholarship and rends the fragile tissues of confidence between scholar and scholar, teacher and student, the university and the public…. All forms of academic fraud must be condemned in the strongest possible terms. All scholars have an obligation to disclose what they believe, in good faith, to be well-founded suspicions of academic fraud. Allegations of fraud must, of course, be made with great caution; yet those who come forward with such allegations must understand that the University respects the honest exercise of their judgment. At the same time, the rights of those whose scholarship or research is questioned must also be scrupulously protected, all in accord with a process that responds to such allegations with the utmost care, diligence, sensitivity, and respect for the rights of all concerned.

Yale University first formally addressed the issue of academic fraud in its Policy Statement on Collaborative Research published in 1982 from which the above statements are taken. The University believes that the academic community must do everything within its power to guard against academic misconduct, and as part of that responsibility should have in place detailed and well-established procedures for dealing with allegations of academic misconduct in a timely and fair manner. The procedures are necessary not only to protect the academic community from fraud and other forms of misconduct, but also to protect individuals who may be unjustly accused. [1] They do not supplant existing disciplinary procedures, but rather establish an initial process for the review and investigation of allegations, which may result in the initiation of disciplinary action if warranted, in accordance with applicable procedures.

Four general principles must govern the response when allegations of academic misconduct are brought forward. They are (1) that any well-founded accusation of scholarly misconduct made in good faith must be given serious consideration; (2) that an accused person must be assumed innocent until the weight of evidence requires a conclusion to the contrary; (3) that appropriate effort should be made to protect the privacy and reputation of both the complainant and the respondent, to provide for fair process, and to restore the good name of an unjustly accused individual; and (4) that appropriate effort should be made to preserve the integrity of the scholarly record. [2]

Next: Initiation of Allegation

1 Retaliation against an individual for having made an allegation of academic fraud is a violation of University policy and an offense subject to discipline. On the other hand, an individual who in bad faith brings such an allegation also will be subject to discipline.

2 For all allegations made under this policy, the Dean will consult with the Office of the General Counsel and the Provost to determine the appropriate procedures to address the allegations. When an allegation under this policy has certain connections to federal funding, federal regulations may apply. If they do, they supersede these policies and procedures to the extent necessary to avoid any violation of the federal regulations.