Some universities have ethics codes that require (whatever that might mean) members to report misconduct within the community.

Are there universities where such a requirement extends to reporting misconduct within the "larger academic community"? For example, if someone at school X learned that someone at school Y had falsified laboratory data, the X person would be required to report the person at Y.

The example of falsified data is imperfect as it may be covered under legal and contractual rubrics not local to a university, such as a government grant agency requiring recipients to report any known misuse of government funds. A better example is plagiarism in student papers, that usually does not violate any legal codes (unless additional scholarship money is earned through the plagiarism), and is treated as a reportable crime only within universities' internal ethics codes. The question is whether any of those codes purport to protect the integrity of other institutions.

I'm asking only about reporting of academic or institutional misconduct, especially the kind where the only effective means of reporting is to the other university.

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    What's an example of the sort of ethics code you mention in the first paragraph? Are you talking about universities with honor codes, or something else? Commented Mar 24, 2016 at 4:25
  • 1
    Sure, honor codes are an example.
    – zyx
    Commented Mar 24, 2016 at 5:39
  • Do you want to know what regulations say, or what the ethical thing to do is?
    – vonbrand
    Commented Mar 25, 2016 at 21:08
  • The regulations. @vonbrand
    – zyx
    Commented Mar 26, 2016 at 0:51
  • Edited to clarify. @AnonymousMathematician
    – zyx
    Commented Mar 26, 2016 at 15:28

2 Answers 2

  1. in case of publications and falsified data you are first and foremost responsible to report it to the publication. They need to first approve or review the technicality of the matter which can become material for the ethics committee.

  2. The Honor Committees of universities keep a record of students and faculties, and when students or professors apply to other universities they are generally being asked about the previously notable issues with ethics in the previous institution. Lying in those form can by itself be lying to the second institution even if the matter can not be investigated with the first institute. That being said Honor committees in university X might have a threshold and limit before noting an offense or violation on the record subject to citations and referral for future. In some cases in universities, some mandatory 6 session therapy is being recommended as a way to remove an item from someones active record.Those therapies are subect to confidentiality and therfore can not be cited by university Y.


I have to believe that at least one school's ethics policy says to report without specifying that misbehavior should only be challenged on their own campus. Indeed, professional ethics suggest you should do so no matter where it arises.

But it seems you are looking for specific examples. In that case, I really believe you are going to have to do some research to get a solid answer. Should be easy to send out a bunch of letters to various schools saying your investigating differences between written ethics statements and you'd appreciate it if they could send you a copy of theirs. Heck, these days many are probably available via the schools'websites...

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    It is not obvious that at least one case has to exist. I am looking for the language from a specific ethics code at a university (preferably applying to all members of the institution, or at least including undergraduates).
    – zyx
    Commented Mar 26, 2016 at 18:44
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    Is your first sentence in the answer serious? It seems ridiculous to assume that a code with words like "members of the community are expected to report violations of this Ethics Code" means they are expected to report violations by people who are not subject to that code (never having agreed to it through signature or enrollment).
    – zyx
    Commented Mar 27, 2016 at 15:40
  • You're assuming a particular wording. I'm assuming that there is enough variation in wording, over a large enough sample set, that one will asset this either explicitly or implicitly , intended or not. And frankly, I think professional ethics, independent of explicit codes, requires reporting evidence of such. Misconduct is misconduct and should be reported, period.
    – keshlam
    Commented Mar 27, 2016 at 16:20
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    It is the premise of the question that there is a "large enough sample set" of universities that potentially "one will assert this ... explicitly". Whether that potential is realized in actual examples IS the question. Your "answer", if it is one, is that the question doesn't matter because your personal ethics or your understanding of professional ethics that are supposed to apply to undergraduates or something, makes everything implicit so no examples are needed. You might be right, or not, but the question is about the written and explicit and not some imaginary text between the lines.
    – zyx
    Commented Mar 27, 2016 at 16:30
  • The revised answer now says it could exist and to do a web search. That's great advice, thanks, but this is a possibly nonexistent needle in a haystack and precisely the sort of thing that Q & A websites of people in the field are good for. I'm not asking the page viewers to do a search, but if they happen to remember such a policy (which would be quite unusual and thus might be memorable) at any of the thousands of universities that they collectively have encountered.
    – zyx
    Commented Mar 27, 2016 at 17:26

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