Committee on Ethics

Our mission

ISM’s Committee on Ethics, as mandated by ISM’s Code of Ethics, is dedicated to educating our community about, and maintaining within our community, academic ethics and integrity.

Information

All students of ISM University – whether they are undergraduates, foreign students, graduate students or Executive School students – are responsible for acting ethically and with integrity. It is the responsibility of each student to familiarise themselves with ISM’s ‘Code of Ethics’, along with the information and resources on this webpage. All students are responsible for their own work and are responsible for their actions.

Plagiarism

The Committee follows the definition of plagiarism given by the University of Oxford:

… presenting someone else’s work or ideas as your own, with or without their consent, by incorporating it into your work without full acknowledgement. All published and unpublished material, whether in manuscript, printed or electronic form, is covered under this definition. Plagiarism may be intentional or reckless, or unintentional.

The avoidance of plagiarism is one of the most important responsibilities of students, and students have a responsibility to understand precisely what plagiarism is, and what it requires students to avoid.

Students are strongly advised to explore the University of Oxford’s accessible and helpful website on plagiarism here. Oxford’s full guide to academic good practice can be downloaded here.

Students should also self-assess their understanding of plagiarism by taking this online test.

Turnitin

Turnitin is an internet-based ‘plagiarism detection’ service, which ISM University uses to confirm that students’ submitted coursework is free of plagiarism. Many of your written assignments will be submitted to Turnitin, which produces a report – called a ‘similarity report’ – that allows your teacher to discover how ‘similar’ your work is to content within a large database of other students’ written coursework, along with copyrighted pages from books, newspapers, and journals, and with the publicly accessible Internet.

To learn more, consult the Turnitin website, especially its description of ‘similarity reports’.

Cheating

According to a leading university guide, cheating is:

a deliberate, dishonest act in relation to submitting university work. This could mean copying someone else’s work, having someone else write an essay for you, or taking notes into an exam.

Cheating can include, but is not limited to, the following:

  • Lying;
  • Copying from another’s test or examination;
  • Discussion at any time of answers or questions on an examination or test;
  • Taking or receiving copies of an exam without the permission of the teacher;
  • Using or displaying notes, ‘cheat sheets’ or any other information devices; inappropriate to the prescribed test conditions;
  • Allowing someone other than the officially enrolled student to represent same.

The guide continues:

“How and why do students cheat?

The most common form of cheating is the use of essay mills. These are companies that encourage students to pay for an essay written elsewhere which they can submit as their own. Essay mills take advantage of stressed students who are overwhelmed with work, by presenting cheating as an acceptable alternative to working hard.

Students cheat for a number of reasons; often it is a self-inflicted choice. Students who don’t revise enough or leave their essay until the last minute may think cheating is easier, rather than doing more work in a short space of time. In other cases, extenuating circumstances can put students in a situation where cheating feels like their only option.

Why is cheating a bad idea?

Despite what essay mills want you to believe, cheating is never acceptable for numerous reasons:

  • You can be seriously punished
    If you are caught cheating, you may fail the assignment, an entire module, or even the whole degree.
  • It is expensive
    University already costs enough, so failing a year or being expelled due to cheating is a costly mistake to make. Cheating itself is also very expensive; companies can charge hundreds or even thousands of pounds to produce a single piece of work.
  • It is dishonest
    Essay mills are deceitful companies who lie and take advantage of students. By using these companies, you only encourage what they do.
  • You are cheating yourself
    University is meant to challenge you. By cheating, you are missing out on the opportunity to push yourself and find out what you are capable of. You won’t fully develop the skills you need to be successful in the future.
  • It devalues the work of those who do not cheat
    If you cheat and are not caught, you are lessening the achievements of your fellow students who have worked hard and honestly. Think about how your friends would feel if they found out.
  • It is avoidable
    Universities have services to help students who are struggling with their workload. Students with extenuating circumstances can apply to extend submission deadlines. If you are struggling, talk to someone.”

The Committee on Ethics’ role

The Committee is dedicated to educating students about plagiarism and cheating. However, all students are responsible for their own work and are responsible for their actions. Unfortunately, occasionally a teacher, or an exam invigilator, another student, or one of us, reports to the Committee that a student is suspected of plagiarism or cheating.

When that occurs, the Committee on Ethics begins an investigation. We examine the supporting evidence and invite the student to a meeting with us. After thorough deliberation, and by majority vote, we decide upon (i) whether the report of academic misconduct is accurate; (ii) whether the student should incur a penalty; and (iii) what severity the penalty should be.

Penalties that the Committee have decided upon in the past include:

• Assigning a grade of zero for the assignment or exam;
• Assigning a grade of zero for the entire course;
• Denying the opportunity to participate in the Erasmus exchange programme for a certain period of time;
• Expelling a student for a certain period of time, such as one semester or several years.
• Requesting a student to rewrite their BA or MA thesis;
• Denying a student the right to defend their BA or MA thesis for a certain period of time.

Teachers at ISM university –any employee or contractor of the University that is engaged in teaching or evaluating ISM students – have a particular set of responsibilities according to academic ethics and integrity.

The responsibilities of teachers, broadly speaking:

  1. “ The first responsibility of university teachers is the pursuit and dissemination of knowledge and understanding through teaching and research. They must devote their energies conscientiously to develop their scholarly competence and effectiveness as teachers.
  2. They must be conscientious in the preparation and organization of their subject matter and should revise this periodically in the light of developments in their fields.
  3. They must conscientiously strive to improve the methods of presentation of their subjects to their students.
  4. They must encourage the free exchange of ideas between themselves and their students.
  5. They must always be fair to their students. It is unethical for them to exploit students for their private advantage. It is unethical for them to utilize the work of students in a publication without appropriate attribution.
  6. They are guilty of unethical conduct if they act so as to prevent the fulfillment of these responsibilities by themselves or by other members of the academic community.
  7. They must keep in confidence all privileged information gained about a student, whether concerning academic progress, personal life or political and religious views. Nevertheless, they may reveal information about the academic standing of students in response to a request from a reputable source; they may refer to the student’s character only insofar as this is relevant. When acting as referees, they must strive to be fair and objective.”

 

Plagiarism and cheating

While teachers should be vigilant to prevent and detect cheating, and while teachers must report instances of plagiarism or cheating when they detect or have reason to believe that a student has done so, the Committee does not believe that teachers are responsible for, nor should they be held accountable for, the academic misconduct of their students.

Researchers at ISM – meaning anyone affiliated with ISM who conducts research, but applying in particular to faculty members who engage in research and publication in a professional, affiliated capacity – have a specific set of responsibilities, generally referred to as research ethics and research integrity.

Principles of Research Ethics

The UK Research Integrity Office’s ‘Code of Practice for Research’, perhaps Europe’s leading guide, describes the principles of ethics in research as follows:

“Organisations and researchers should adhere to the following Principles, which set out the responsibilities and values relevant to research. While some elements may seem self evident, and there is some overlap, these Principles aim to encourage all involved in research to consider the wider consequences of their work and to engage critically with the practical, ethical and intellectual challenges that are inherent in the conduct of high quality research, rather than treating codes of practice such as this as just another procedure to be followed.

Excellence:

Organisations and researchers should strive for excellence when conducting research and aim to produce and disseminate work of the highest quality. This Code, its Principles and its Standards are intended to support these goals.

Honesty:

Organisations should work to create and maintain a culture of research that fosters and supports honesty in research. Researchers should be honest in relation to their own research and that of others. They should do their utmost to ensure the accuracy of data and results, acknowledge the contributions of others, and neither engage in misconduct nor conceal it.

Integrity:

Organisations and researchers must comply with all legal and ethical requirements relevant to their field of study. They should declare any potential or actual conflicts of interest relating to research and where necessary take steps to resolve them.

Cooperation:

Organisations and researchers should promote the open exchange of ideas, research methods, data and results and their discussion, scrutiny and debate, subject to any considerations of confidentiality.

Accountability:

Organisations and researchers should recognise that in and through their work they are ultimately accountable to the general public and should act accordingly. They should ensure that any research undertaken complies with any agreements, terms and conditions relating to the project, and allows for proper governance and transparency. Researchers should follow the requirements and guidance of any professional bodies in their field of research. Researchers who are members of a regulated profession must follow the requirements and guidance of the body regulating their profession.

Training and skills:

Organisations should provide training and opportunities for development for their researchers, and the necessary resources to enable them to conduct research to the required standards. They should support researchers in identifying unmet needs for training and development. Researchers should ensure that they have the necessary skills, training and resources to carry out research, in the proposed research team or through collaboration with specialists in relevant fields, and report and resolve any unmet needs identified.

Safety:

Organisations and researchers should ensure the dignity, rights, safety and wellbeing of all involved in research and avoid unreasonable risk or harm to research subjects, patients, participants, researchers and others. They should report and address any concerns relating to the dignity, rights, safety and wellbeing of those involved in research. Research should be initiated and continued only if the anticipated benefits justify the risks involved.”

 

Resources

The Committee believes it is absolutely critical that ISM researchers continually educate themselves on, and conform to, the principles of research ethics and integrity. While it is a complex and dynamic set of responsibilities, the Committee advises ISM’s researchers to familiarise themselves with, and frequently consult, the following resources.

The European Code of Conduct for Research Integrity was developed by All European Academies (ALLEA) and the European Science Foundation (ESF). “It is a living document that will be reviewed every three to five years and revised as necessary to take account of evolving concerns, so that it can continue to serve the research community as a framework for good research practice. The current revision is motivated by developments in, among others: the European research funding and regulatory landscapes; institutional responsibilities; scientific communication; review procedures; open access publishing; the use of repositories; and the use of social media and citizen involvement in research. Initiated by the ALLEA Permanent Working Group on Science and Ethics, the revision included extensive consultation among major stakeholders in European research, both public and private, to ensure a sense of shared ownership.”

• The UK Research Integrity Office (UKRIO) is an independent body “which provides expert advice and guidance about the conduct of research”. The Committee recommends the following resources published by the UKRIO:

Code of Practice for Research
Recommended Checklist for Researchers
Self-assessment tool
Integrity in Practice toolkit
Good practice in research: Authorship

• The Belmont Report is one of the leading works on the ethics of biomedical and behavioural research involving human subjects. Of particular interest to ISM researchers will be the sections on behavioural research. The report considers the following issues relevant to ISM’s research areas:

◦ the role of assessment of risk-benefit criteria in the determination of the appropriateness of research involving human subjects;
◦ appropriate guidelines for the selection of human subjects for participation in such research; and
◦ the nature and definition of informed consent in various research settings.

The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) is the UK’s largest organisation for funding research on economic and social issues, and provides an excellent framework for research ethics that “helps you to consider ethics issues during the complete lifecycle of a project and includes information and guidelines on good research conduct and governance.”

Alongside our University’s ethical responsibilities that stem from our status as a university and place of academic practice, ISM is also, simply, a workplace. The Committee on Ethics is dedicated to ensuring that ISM is a workplace with an ethical culture, and several of the statutes in ISM’s Code of Ethics deal with precisely this. Among them include:

• Interpersonal relations among ISM Community Members must be based on respect, goodwill, impartiality, freedom of speech, non-discrimination and academic solidarity and they must be focused on the assurance of teaching, learning and research quality and a creative atmosphere.
• ISM Community Members must ensure the safety of confidential information of the University and its stakeholders. Confidential University information, which is not made public, is information about the University’s property and financial transactions and data on university shareholders, customers and ISM Community Members.
• Any direct or indirect offer to accept or to give a gift for some expected or requested service or obligation that causes a conflict of personal and University interests is considered to be a bribe and is not acceptable.

ISM Community Member relations are based on the principles of collaboration and transparency. Binding non-academic and non-working commitments can provoke a conflict of interests; therefore, ambiguous relationships at the workplace must be avoided.

Our members

Members of the Committee on Ethics are unpaid volunteers, elected by the ISM community through a majority vote every two years. It is comprised of six members drawn from ISM’s staff, and each member is elected by their respective peers: two members are academics, two members are administrators, and two members are students. The Chairperson of the Committee is elected by secret ballot by the newly elected Committee members and serves in that role throughout the Committee’s two-year term.

Currently, our members are:

  • Dr Jonathan Boyd (Chairman)
  • Kristina Aldošina
  • Simona Puidokienė
  • Gabija Karpavičiūtė
  • Jonas Lazauskas (student)
  • Aistė Keblikaitė (student)

Our founding documents

The Committee’s authority, mandate and operations have been assigned by two Rector’s Orders:

Our neutrality

To effectively serve its purpose, the Committee must be neutral, which confers two key responsibilities, one upon the Community, and one upon the Committee members:

Independence:

The Committee must be independent, meaning that it requires institutional guarantees or safeguards that allow the Committee to be free from external pressures when making decisions.

Impartiality:

The Committee must make its decisions impartially, meaning that its decisions and deliberations must be objective and absent of prejudice towards any of the parties.

Our function

The Committee has five key functions, to:

  1. Promote the Community’s engagement with ethical norms and issues;
  2. Organise events aimed at educating the Community on ethical standards appropriate to our institution and activities;
  3. Maintain an ethical culture at the University;
  4. Initiate improvement-focused review of the Code of Ethics;
  5. Examine cases of ethical misconduct and breaches of the Code of Ethics by members of the Community, and where applicable, determine sanctions.

How we decide which cases should be investigated

Unfortunately, sometimes a member of the Community is asked to account for their conduct in the context of the Code of Ethics. The Committee examines such cases where a written statement on a breach of the Code of Ethics is made by any member of the Community. When the Committee receives such a written statement, the Committee considers it to be confidential, i.e. the Committee must ensure that any information about the person(s) who wrote the statement is not made public (i.e. whistle-blower protection).

How we make our decisions

All of our decisions, whatever they happen to be about, are diligently deliberated and democratically decided. At least half of the Committee members must meet and discuss at length each matter and subsequently makes its decisions according to a majority vote. In the event that there is a ‘tie’, the Chairperson casts the deciding vote.

Academic freedom

The Committee on Ethics maintains that academic freedom is a fundamental principle of university life. The Committee, accordingly, is staunch advocate and supporter of academic freedom. More about how we interpret academic freedom can be found here.

How you can contact us

The Committee makes proactive efforts to educate our Community about our collective and individual commitments to ethical conduct. We are happy to discuss any questions or queries any member of our Community may have, and we will promptly reply to your emails to 

We also encourage any member of our Community to report any instances of ethical misconduct. The Committee will consider your report to be confidential, i.e. the Committee must ensure that any information about the person(s) who wrote the report is not made public (i.e. whistle-blower protection). To do so, please fill out this form and submit it along with any relevant supporting documents.