Research Ethics & Intellectual Property Rights Policy
All members of the University, including research students, are under an obligation to observe the highest standards of professional conduct. Failure to do so, not only defeats the object of scholarly enquiry, but brings both the researcher and the University into disrepute. The need for researchers to comply with strict ethical guidelines is especially important where the pressure to complete dissertations promptly or produce other publications, e.g. journal articles, may generate a temptation to neglect or relax normal practices.
The nature and scope of one's ethical duty as a researcher rests on two fundamental assumptions that ought to be self-evident. The first is that ofhonesty in the conduct of research, the reporting of findings, and the proper attribution of ideas and their source. The second is that positions of seniority or responsibility should never be abused so as to put pressure on research students to forego their right to proper acknowledgement of their contribution to the research or publication in question.
Certain sorts of work in the University need specific permission before they can be embarked upon. For details, please refer to the website of the Research Services.
Students enrolled in Joint Programmes have to observe the requirements on ethical approval of both the home and partner universities. Please click here for more information and consult your supervisors at home and partner universities if you have questions about the approval procedures.
Plagiarism and Falsification of Data
The most common form of academic misconduct is, however, plagiarism which assumes several forms. Research students' attention is drawn to the following Regulation:
"6. A candidate shall not engage in plagiarism nor employ nor seek to employ any other unfair means at an examination or in any other form of work submitted for assessment as part of a University examination. Plagiarism is defined as direct copying of textual materials or willful use of other people's data and ideas, and presenting them as one's own without acknowledgement, whether or not such materials, data and ideas have been published." Regulations Governing Students' Academic Conduct Concerning Assessment
As a general rule, all researchers are duty-bound to acknowledge the source of ideas or data used in their research. The University expects that senior staff, such as heads of department or supervisors, will never coerce students into allowing them to pass off the research of their students as their own, either wholly or partly.
Students should take the greatest care in acknowledging the work of others, whether it be through the use of marks to designate quotations or through the proper acknowledgement of sources. Three booklets available, free-of-charge from the Graduate School, can help you with this problem. Preparing and Submitting your Theses provides general advice and deals with the related area of copyright. The University's website on plagiarism and Plagiarism: A Guide for Research Postgraduate Students offer further advice and simple exercises on how to acknowledge and present the ideas of others in one's own writing.
Falsification of data is another equally serious offence. Research findings or data which have been fabricated, manipulated or falsified, are easily discernible. Students suspected of having committed such fraudulent acts may be subject to disciplinary action and/or may be deemed to have failed the thesis examination.
Any research student who is in any doubt about his or her ethical responsibilities should discuss the matter, at the earliest opportunity, with his or her supervisor.
Coursework Component on Research Conduct
With a view to further promoting research ethics and integrity, the Graduate School has introduced a compulsory coursework component on research conduct to MPhil and 4-year PhD students registered on September 1, 2009 and thereafter. 3-year PhD students registered on September 1, 2011 and thereafter are also required to complete the coursework component if they have not yet completed equivalent training in previous research degree programmes. Starting from the academic year 2021-22, the coursework component is further developed into GRSC6101 Responsible Conduct of Research and GRSC6102 Stream-based Responsible Conduct of Research to meet the needs of students in different disciplines.
To enhance students’ awareness and knowledge in research integrity, the Graduate School has published a booklet Research Integrity: A Guide for Research Postgraduate Students at The University of Hong Kong. This book is an introductory text, written to provide a general overview of research integrity and related themes as well as offer some practical advice for the good conduct of academic research.
A student who is alleged to have infringed Regulation 6 of the Regulations Governing Students' Academic Conduct Concerning Assessment in any form is liable to be the subject of a complaint before the Disciplinary Committee under "an offence in connexion with degree, diploma, or certificate examinations, including violation of any of the regulations of the Senate governing conduct at examinations or otherwise". For a student who is found to be guilty of an alleged offence under the said Regulations by the Disciplinary Committee, the consequences are severe. The range of penalties which may be imposed by the Disciplinary Committee include:
a) a formal reprimand;
b) a fine;
c) withdrawal of any academic or other University privileges or rights;
d) suspension; or
e) expulsion from the University.
The student may also be subject to such other actions as may be considered appropriate by the examiners under the relevant examination regulations.
Full details on what constitutes disciplinary action, and the possible consequences of such action can be found in statute XXX of the Statutes of the University of Hong Kong, which is available in the University's Calendar.
The Policy on Research Integrity approved by the Council clearly lays down the fundamental principles of what constitutes responsible behaviour in research and standards that are expected to be observed.
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The management of research data and records refers to ways in which recorded information (in whatever form or medium) from research is organised, stored, maintained and accessed both during the lifespan of the research and in the long term. Effective research data and records management supports both high quality research and academic integrity.
The University recognises the importance of good practice in research data and records management and seeks to promote the highest standards. The Senate approved at its meeting on May 5, 2015 the University’s Policy on the Management of Research Data and Records.
RPg students who registered on September 1, 2017 and thereafter are required to
(a) submit a Data Management Plan (DMP) before the expiry of their probationary period if data is to be collected
or generated as part of the research; and
(b) submit the dataset of their research, where applicable, when they submit theses for examination.
Please refer to the website of the University Libraries for details of submission of DMP and dataset.
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