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I am a professor who runs a research lab at a university. I have a grad student who works with me, and who also has a history of lying. Most recently, he took information home with him that should have been kept in the lab (which was a breach of our IRB/research ethics). I believe that it was an honest mistake, but the problem was how he dealt with it. He told three different stories about what happened with this information, each of which contradicted the others. So, he either has a poor memory for how he handles important study information or he is flat-out lying to me (I believe the latter). I need to trust that my students follow lab procedures when I am not around and that they will be accountable for their actions. I am liable for my students' actions and mistakes.

Have you dealt with a dishonest student in a research setting? Did this result in termination of the student or...?

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    Check your university's published policies, code of conduct, etc. – aparente001 Oct 11 '16 at 19:00
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    Agreeing with @aparente001 - but beyond, if there is an IRB there likely will be explicit guidelines about reporting any such breaches. At the least, it is time for a formal (i.e. documented) coaching and counseling session with the student about their actions, university policy, and lack of honesty. That makes any future breaches as grounds for removal from the project/group/department/university (depending on university guidelines). – Jon Custer Oct 11 '16 at 19:38
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    @aparente001: Some kinds of "termination", like "I am not going to be your advisor anymore", may not be covered by any policy. – Nate Eldredge Oct 11 '16 at 19:41
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    The OP should clarify whether my "termination" they mean expulsion, or the end of the advising relationship. – Tom Church Oct 11 '16 at 20:30
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    At my state R1, termination of a mentoring relationship (i.e., dismissal from a lab) is entirely at the discretion of the PI. Termination from the program is a very different matter and requires a fairly extensive formal process. – Corvus Oct 12 '16 at 4:56
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Termination of the advising/mentoring relationship

You should check with your department or university policies, but at most places you can unilaterally terminate your advisory / mentoring role by emailing the department chair or graduate coordinator. This is, after all, a voluntary role for you. And given that you no longer trust the student, I don't think you can operate as their advisor in good faith yourself (you couldn't write the letters of recc that they'd need for funding or jobs, for example).

If you don't feel the relationship can be repaired, then you should drop them.

If the student has no other advisor, they may be at risk to be an orphan. Since most stages of graduate school (orals, candidacy, continuing enrollment, funding, research) require an advisor, a student who has no advisor is at risk of not being able to continue in the program. There is often a short period of time that is given to the student to find a new advisor. At some places students are formally terminated if they can't advance; at others not being allowed to advance puts them in a limbo state where they cannot enroll but are not terminated.

Departments tend to not like the creation of orphans and there may be informal sanctions for an advisor who orphans students for no good reason. However, you do seem to have a good reason and if true, your colleagues should back you.

The real result is however that the student may have to leave the program.

University Expulsion

Not being able to continue for lack of an advisor is much more common than actual expulsion, given that expulsion procedures usually require a hearing and the presentation of proof of malfeasance.

  • Thank you, @RoboKaren. Very helpful. This answer agrees with (and clarifies) what my chair has been telling me. – Anon in NY Oct 12 '16 at 13:01

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