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Academic Integrity: Avoiding Plagiarism and Understanding Research Ethics: Research Ethics

This guide contains slides and information corresponding with the Academic Integrity @ Pitt: Workshops for International Graduate Students series.

Research Ethics

The Process of Journal Publication

Avoiding Bias in Research

Research bias, also called experimenter bias, is a process where the scientists performing the research influence the results, in order to portray a certain outcome. Typically, there are four very common types of bias: internal validity, external validity, construct (or measurement) validity and statistical conclusion validity. A good researcher should try to avoid any bias. 

However, In some case, conflicts of interest can also contribute to research bias. Conflicts of interest (COI) indicates that a personal interest conflicted with their professional obligation. A person may gain profit by making decisions based on their professional roles. To avoid COIs' influence on your academic work, researchers should provide a transparency disclosure which lists those external factors related to their work, including these questions:

  • Who funded the work?
  • Who did the work?
  • How was the work reviewed?
  • Do the authors have any COI?


Questions about Copyright?

see: ULS information on Copyright

Or, ask us at:

Essential Part of Research Ethics: Proper Academic Discloser

Academic discourse refers to the ways of thinking and using language which exist in the academy [1]. For those who stand behind your idea (including contributor, funder, adviser and even your peer and colleges):

  1. Give credit when you have used others' research, acknowledge contributors and always remember that we “Stand on the shoulders of giants." Your academic work is based on the work of others, even hundreds of years ago. Additionally, when you have researched with others, you may need to share ownership or give ownership to your research partner.
  2. Another important part of academic discourse is the peer-review process and academic debate. There's a basic rule of academic debating: Criticize the ideas, not the people. Even so, sometimes reviews can be harsh and may attack the author. In such a case, look for ways to improve your idea and ignore those personal attacks. The most important thing is, Do Not Fire Back. You should contribute to a respectful atmosphere.

To write a helpful review, you can take following tips:

  • State the major points of the paper.
  • List some items the author does very well.
  • Point out any places for improvement. 
  • Suggest other references.
  • Point out an argument flaw.
  • Offer examples and counterexamples. 
  • Offer practical, constructive advice.

[1] Hyland, K., & Paltridge, B. (Eds.). (2011). Bloomsbury companion to discourse analysis. A&C Black.


Copyright and Attribution

  • Some Basics of US Copyright Law
Your work is protected by US copyright as soon as it is "Fixed in tangible form" includes printed form, handwritten or stored on digital media but does not include the spoken word (unless fixed in tangible form)
You don't need to assert your copyright on the work (but it is a good idea to do so)
  • What you should consider to protect your Copyright?
  1. Assert copyright on your own works
  2. Use Creative Commons licenses
  3. Consider carefully before signing over copyright to a publisher
  • What you should be aware of Copyright?
  1. Be careful when including copyrighted content in your works
  2. You may not be able to post your own work on a Web site if the publisher does not allow it
  • Fair use of Copyright

​Fair Use is a provision of U.S. law that allows you to use copyright protected material for: criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. But only if the use meets certain guidelines, like:

  1. the purpose and character of the use (commercial vs. nonprofit, educational)
  2. the nature of the work (factual vs. creative)
  3. the amount and substantiality of the portion used
  4. the effect of the use on the potential market
  • Attribution

Attribution refers to acknowledging the ideas of others and giving credit where credit is due. It's essential and critical to the scholarly record. Failure to attribute the work of others may be considered academic misconduct. So please be sure that always provide complete, clear citations that readers can follow to earlier works. 

  • Acknowledgements

Acknowledgements show appreciation for the support of others. Such support may not reflected in the formal scholarly record, for instance, like financial support, feedback and encouragement. It's often not required, but usually the right thing to do to maintain a good cooperation with others.