Ethical Guidelines

Academic Integrity at SkolTech:

All SkolTech students are expected to exhibit academic honesty and integrity. This FAQ addresses some common questions regarding what does and what does not constitute an academic misconduct. It is not elaborate, and does not address all potential forms of misconduct; rather, it aims to clarify the most common misunderstandings. Please address the SkolTech Student Academic Integrity Regulations [1] as a comprehensive source for the relevant Skoltech policies. This FAQ does not cover questions pertaining to research ethics.

General

  • Why are academic integrity guidelines necessary?
    The main purpose is to protect students from unfair behaviour by their peers. Studying in Skoltech may be hard. An academic misconduct gives a student an unfair advantage on others. Secondly, they aim to teach students good academic practices; not following these practices later in life may have dire consequences for careers. Thirdly, they aim to protect the reputation of Skoltech, and the value of its degree. Fourthly, they aim to protect science as an institution; breaches of academic integrity corrupt it.
  • I am an honest person. Why should I be reading this?
    From experience, some of the standards accepted in the academy, in particular those referring to plagiarism, may be new to some of the students. Moreover, individual courses or projects may have additional regulations or standards in place for what practices are acceptable, e.g., whether one is allowed to use textbooks in an exam or how a source should be cited. If in doubt on what is OK and what comprises a misconduct, always ask the course instructor or a teaching assistant.
  • What constitutes an academic misconduct?
    Types of academic misconduct include cheating, plagiarism and data fabrication, among others.

Written Assignments and Tests

  • What is an academic misconduct at an examination or test?
    Such misconduct may include, but is not limited to, working on a project outside the allotted time period; use of written sources or technical appliances, except those explicitly permitted; or copying or any other use of work by peers.
  • What about collaborations?
    Joint work on an assignment, especially home assignments, allows you to learn from your peers, and teach you to work in a team. Individual courses and assignments may have their own rules on how much joint work is allowed. Still, unless otherwise stated explicitly by the course instructor or course materials, all projects are individual, and assume no communication on the project between students is allowed while the project is running. If in doubt, ask the instructor.

Cheating

  • What comprises cheating?
    See the SkolTech Student Academic Integrity Regulations [1] for examples of cheating.

Plagiarism

  • What comprises plagiarism?
    Any unacknowledged copying of text, illustrations, data or code from another source in a written work.
  • What is a proper acknowledgement?
    To acknowledge any use of a source in a written work, include the citation to this source in your text next to the phrase which uses this source, in the format of your text. If a long stretch of text discusses the same source, it is usually sufficient to just include the citation once. You should not just cite published papers and books, but also all types of electronic sources. Use standard reference formats.

Additionally, any text copied verbatim should be included in quotation marks. In general, any text longer than two or three words in a row copied verbatim should be quoted. This does not refer to standardized text elements such as common methods, names or acknowledgement of funding sources.

  • Won’t my work look funny with all those quotation marks in it?
    It might. This is why it usually preferable to speak about work of others in your own words. This gives you an added possibility of summarizing the work and highlighting its aspects that are important in your context. One would usually copy a text verbatim (with quotation marks) if the wording of the original author is especially good, or important for your argument. See here [2] for details and examples.
  • What about translations of a text from a foreign language?
    An unacknowledged translation from a source in a foreign language constitutes plagiarism. Similarly to copying from the source in the same language, a verbatim translation should be surrounded by quotation marks.
  • What about illustrations?
    Each illustration copied or adapted from another work should be explicitly marked as such in the illustration caption. It is not sufficient to cite the source in the text.
  • What about presentations?
    In a presentation slide using a source, indicate where the used information came from on the same slide.
  • What about computer code?
    The source of any copied computer code copied in your submitted work should be acknowledged. Usually a URL in a comment suffices.
  • What about autoplagiarism?
    Similarly to work by others, you should properly acknowledge and reference your own work done previously. It is not OK, for example, to submit a written project performed for a previous course, or substantially overlapping with it, as an assignment for another course without explicitly acknowledging this. You should cite your own previous work, and generally avoid verbatim use of your own previous wording.

Fabrication

  • What is data fabrication?
    See the SkolTech Student Academic Integrity Regulations for some examples of data fabrication. Additional examples include changes, no matter how minor, to numbers or plots in a research project to make the results appear significant; unacknowledged digital manipulation of microphotographs; etc.

Further reading

[1] Skoltech Student Academic Integrity Regulations: http://www.skoltech.ru/app/data/uploads/sites/2/2015/04/STUDENT-ACADEMIC-INTEGRITY-REGULATIONS.pdf

[2] Academic Integrity at MIT: https://integrity.mit.edu/

[3] Academic Integrity and Cheating: http://pages.ucsd.edu/~dkjordan/resources/cheat.html