POLICY GUIDELINE ON ACADEMIC INTEGRITY IN RESEARCH AND PUBLICATION

COMSATS institute of information technology (herein after referred to as the institute) personnel, engaged in research activity, must assure quality and integrity in their research and publications. The quality and integrity in research and publication should be assured through, primarily, self –regulation, by adherence to individual ethical codes and professional standards, and by reference to the traditions and collegiality that characterize research culture at institutions of higher education and research. This policy guideline document articulates the institute’s policy on academic integrity in research and publication. Although the policy guideline focuses primarily on deterring unacceptable conduct of researchers and faculty at the institute, the policy’s purpose is to promote compliance with the highest scholarly standards of research and communication thereof.

A variety of informal practices exists within the institute for addressing questions and controversies that may arise concerning the conduct of scholarly activities. Most problems are, and should be, handled by reasoned discussion or informal mediation at the level of the institute closet to the persons involved, preferably at the departmental level. It is incumbent upon a research institute both to articulate the policies on academic integrity and to provide effective procedures for institutional treatment of incidents of academic misconduct that may not be handled satisfactorily by informal procedures.

Scientific authorship is an important element of any paper; it provides credit to those who worked on the paper, as well as accountability if anything is found to be incorrect usually researchers want their name on paper to help them in their career, and often strive for the lead author credit.

An inappropriate and unethical aspect of authorship is “ghost” and “buddy” authorship. Although ghost and buddy authorship can be used for valid reasons, they are often used for inappropriate purposes. Providing guest or buddy authorship just to try to make a paper more prestigious or legitimate undermines the work that has gone into the research and could damage the findings in the long run. Ghost authorship is problematic and unethical, as it does not provide credit where credit is due and may be used to manipulate the data and findings.

Most professional scientific and research associations have ethical codes and guidelines for the conduct of research; the institute’s research personnel (including faculty) are expected to comply with such standards. Violations of professional standards are a matter of peer review and censure; in some instances, they may become grounds for the institute’s disciplinary action.

Some journals and other organizations have started to implement strict guidelinesto deeter authorship abuse caused by these types of authorship. For example, the journal nature now includes description of the contribution of each author to clarify exactly what everyone’s role has been in the research publications. Listing everyone wo has helped on the project in an honest and open way will ensure that authorship is properly assigned. Limiting the use of buddy and ghost authorship, or abandoning the practice all together, will ensure the proper and ethical assigning of authorship to a paper.

Specifically, standard guidelines must be followed by research/faculty supervisors when publishing their respective research. As such, participation of the researchers in all of the following activities may be considered as a guideline on who may be considered an author in a publication:

  1. Conception of study/ problem
  2. Design of the study. Problem
  3. Acquisition of data, and/ or the analysis thereof
  4. Drafting and technically reviewing the research article for publication

*Just the acquisition of funding, or general supervision of the research group does not automatically grant one the privilege of authorship.

Institute’s staff members in leadership or supervisory positions have a special obligation to foster academic integrity in their relationship and in their work. By virtue of their positions, they are mentors for the students as well as junior colleagues. Examples of fastidious compliance, as set by senior colleagues, with regards to ethical standers, their exercise of supervisory responsibility for the work of senior and junior associates, and their good judgment in resisting assignments in which the number of reporting investigators or volume of work is more than can be supervised carefully, are to be observed and followed at all times.

Separate Policy documents are needed for specific areas such as Animal Research, Chemical and Biological Safety, Control of Biological Samples, Export Control, Human Subject Research, Institutional Review Board for Human and Animal Research, Radiation Control and Safety, Stem Cell Research, Transfer and Control of Genetic Material, and Ethical Review, which must be defined separately. The aforementioned is a general policy guideline document that should be followed by all research personnel.

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