6.1 Academic and Research Integrity
The following brief statements are excerpted in part from the McMaster University Academic Integrity and Research Integrity Policies. For guidance on how to proceed in the case of suspected academic dishonesty or research misconduct, please consult the Office of Academic Integrity and the complete policies at http://www.mcmaster.ca/policy/faculty/Research/Research%20Integrity%20Policy.pdf. The Associate Deans of Graduate Studies are available for confidential consultations on matters related to academic and research integrity.
Academic work includes any academic paper, term test, proficiency test, essay, thesis, research report, evaluation, project, assignment or examination, whether oral, in writing, in other media or otherwise and/or registration and participation in any course, program, seminar, workshop, conference or symposium offered by the University.
For graduate students, comprehensive/qualifying exams, any research work, and thesis work (a thesis proposal, or thesis draft, or draft of one or more chapters) also constitute academic work and must adhere to standards of academic integrity.
Academic dishonesty is to knowingly act or fail to act in a way that results or could result in unearned academic credit or advantage.
Wherever in this policy an offence is described as depending on “knowingly,” the offence is deemed to have been committed if the person ought reasonably to have known.
Students are responsible for being aware of and demonstrating behaviour that is honest and ethical in their academic work. Such behaviour includes:
- following the expectations articulated by instructors for referencing sources of information and for group work;
- asking for clarification of expectations as necessary;
- identifying testing situations that may allow copying;
- preventing their work from being used by others, e.g., protecting access to computer files; and
- adhering to the principles of academic integrity when conducting and reporting research.
Students are responsible for their behaviour and may face penalties under the Academic Integrity or Research Integrity policies if they commit academic dishonesty or research misconduct.
Graduate students, having been deemed admissible to higher studies, are expected to be competent in the acknowledgement of other people’s work, whether that work is in print or electronic media.
Graduate students are expected to understand the demands of ethical conduct of research and reporting research results and behave ethically and responsibly in conducting and reporting research. All graduate students are responsible for familiarizing themselves with the definition of research misconduct in the University’s policy, namely, “a researcher must be honest in proposing, seeking support for, conducting, and reporting research; a researcher must respect the rights of others in these activities.”
6.2 Code of Conduct
McMaster University is a community dedicated to furthering learning, intellectual inquiry, and personal and professional development. Membership in the community implies acceptance of the principle of mutual respect for the rights, responsibilities, dignity and well-being of others and a readiness to support an environment conducive to the intellectual and personal growth of all who study, work and live within it.
The Code of Conduct outlines the limits of conduct considered to be consonant with the goals and the well-being of the University community, and defines the procedures to be followed when students fail to meet the accepted standards.
Copies of the Code of Conduct may be obtained from the website at http://studentconduct.mcmaster.ca/student_code_of_conduct.html.
For Health Sciences graduate students, a supplementary guideline, Professional Behaviour Code of Conduct for Learners, applies to learners in health care professions and research. This guideline outlines the professional behaviours in all academic and clinical settings that must be understood and followed.
Copies of the Professional Behaviour Code may be obtained from the website.
6.3 Appeal Procedures
The University has a responsibility to provide fair and equitable procedures for the lodging and hearing of student complaints arising out of University regulations, policies and actions that affect students directly. The procedures described in the Student Appeal Procedures are intended to provide a mechanism to fairly address alleged injustices.
Students who wish to raise questions or who have a concern are strongly encouraged to communication informally with their instructors, the Chair of his/her Supervisory Committee (or the Department Graduate Advisor where no committee exists), the Department Chair and/or the Associate Dean of Graduate Studies, the University Ombud, or the appropriate administrative officer before seeking a review under the formal procedures. Experience has shown that many complaints can be resolved satisfactorily through informal communication. Students are requested to speak with the University Secretary regarding a complaint before submitting an application.
Students should seek remedies for their grievances as promptly as possible and must do so within the time limitations set out in the Student Appeal Procedures.
A Master’s or Ph.D. thesis, and a Ph.D. comprehensive exam are specifically excluded from the re-read procedures identified in the Student Appeal Procedures. If a student does poorly in any of these examinations, the original examining committee is required to allow the student a second opportunity at the examination after at least a week. If the student fails on that second attempt, no additional examinations are permitted.
The Student Appeal Procedures may be found at:
6.4 Ownership of Student Work
In Canada, the author is the immediate owner of the copyright in an original work, except when the author is employed to create such material. ‘Copyright’ is an exclusive property right to publish, produce, reproduce, translate, broadcast, adapt or perform a work, as defined in the Copyright Act (R.S.C. 1985, c. C-42, as amended). For work done by a graduate student, McMaster has the following policies related to the interpretation of copyright and other aspects of intellectual property rights. These policies distinguish in general between items done solely by the student and those undertaken as part of a joint research effort.
In the former case, the intellectual property is primarily the student’s, but the University reserves certain rights as detailed in the remainder of this section. In the latter case, the intellectual property rights involve the student, the research supervisor, (and possibly other individuals as well), the University, and on occasion the financial sponsor of the research. If the work is anticipated to have commercial possibilities, it is recommended that the parties involved agree in writing beforehand on the sharing of any financial returns. The Associate Deans of Graduate Studies are available for confidential consultations on matters of ownership of student work involving faculty and/or other individuals.
6.4.1 Examinations, Reports and Papers Done as Part of Course Requirements
When work that is eligible for copyright is submitted to meet a requirement of a course, the University acknowledges the student’s ownership of the copyright, but places the following conditions on the submission of the work to meet course requirements.
- The original physical document becomes the property of the University. This applies particularly to examination answer scripts, and may also be applied to term papers and other course work.
- Except for examination scripts, the University receives a royalty-free, non-exclusive licence to make copies of the work for academic purposes within the University, and to circulate the work as part of the University library collection.
6.4.2 Theses and Master’s Project Reports
As with other papers, the University recognizes that the student holds copyright to the finished thesis. Copies of the thesis shall have on them in a prominent place on the title page the international copyright notice.
The student is required to sign a licence to the University library (and for Ph.D. students an additional licence to the National Library). (See Section 2.8.3 above.) These licences grant the two libraries permission to reproduce the thesis and to circulate it, but do not affect ownership of the copyright.)
However, the University also recognizes that the ideas in the thesis will often arise from interaction with others. In some cases, this interaction will have been solely with the thesis supervisor; in other cases, a larger research team will have been involved. For this reason, it is understood that the copyright refers only to the written document of the thesis. The ideas, or commercial exploitation of the work may or may not be the exclusive property of the student. For the student who has worked closely with a supervisor, or as part of a research group, the rights to publish, patent, or commercially exploit the results of the research are shared with the supervisor and/or the research group, and with the University. In those cases in which the work has been supported in part by research grants or contracts, there may be other conditions affecting any patent or commercial exploitation. (The student should be made aware of any such conditions before work begins.)
6.4.3 Computer Programs
Computer programs written as part of employment duties, as for example by a teaching assistant, are the property of the employer, as specified in the Copyright Act. Computer programs written as part of course work, a project or a thesis may also have value as a potentially marketable intellectual property. The University recognizes that such software may arise in two different ways, and accordingly has two policies. In setting forth these policies, it is understood that in those cases in which software development draws upon other software owned or licensed by the University, the terms and conditions of the licence or purchase must be followed.
- Where a student develops such software at the direct request of a supervisor, and under supervision, it is assumed that there is joint ownership of the intellectual property rights. In such cases, it is recommended that the individuals involved co-author a working paper documenting the software, rather than including it as an appendix to a thesis or report. Prior agreement between the student and supervisor that this is to be the case would be helpful, but is not mandatory.
- Where a student develops such software on his/her own, as for example for an independent project in a course, copyright remains with the student. As a condition of using University computing facilities, the student is required to grant the University a royalty-free licence to use the software. This includes the right of the University to distribute copies of the software to McMaster faculty, staff, and students for the University’s administration education and research activities. This licence does not include the right to use the software for commercial purposes or to distribute the software to non-McMaster people.
6.4.4 Research Data
As with computer software, the University recognizes that research is conducted and data are acquired in two different fashions. When the data are acquired as part of a joint or collaborative effort, such as one relying on the equipment within a laboratory, they are not solely the property of the student, although some of the data may ultimately appear in tables or appendices in a completed thesis. As a general rule, such data are the joint property of the student and the research supervisor, either of whom has the right to make them available to other individuals as well. Both student and supervisor are responsible for insuring that proper acknowledgement of the contributions of the student, supervisor, and other members of the research team is made when the data are released in any form.
When the data are acquired through the student’s individual effort, and without the use of University laboratories or funding, then they are usually the property of the student making that effort. However, exceptions may occur when the student collects data using research instruments, including interview schedules and questionnaires, developed wholly or in part by the research supervisor or by some other person or agency. In such instances the right to ownership and/or use of the data may be shared among the parties involved. Given the range of possible alternatives it is not possible to set absolute guidelines in advance covering all such situations. Consequently, it is recommended that students and supervisors make clear agreements in advance concerning the ownership and use of data collected in this fashion. Ownership of data may also be affected by the terms of a research contract that has supported the work.
If University resources have been applied to the construction or design of equipment, it is not the property of the student, but of the University. Equipment constructed or designed as part of course or thesis work is the property of the student if the work, materials, and workroom space have been provided by the student or other non-University source. Ownership of newly constructed equipment may also be specified in a research contract that has supported the work.
6.5 McMaster University Policy for Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities
McMaster University is committed to ensuring that each student is afforded an academic environment that is dedicated to the advancement of learning and is based on the principles of equitable access and individual dignity. To this end, the University has a Centre for Student Development and is continuously making improvements to its facilities to maximize access for all students. The School of Graduate Studies, along with the relevant academic department(s) and the Centre for Student Development, encourages academically qualified students to investigate the full range of possibilities at McMaster.
As with all applicants, those with disabilities are expected to select graduate programs that are appropriate for their skills and abilities. Materials provided to applicants by departments should describe specific program requirements, including the nature of research and/or course work, to ensure that the applicant is aware of the expectations for successful completion of the program. Students with pre-existing disabilities, as well as students who become disabled after their admissions to graduate studies, may require special support services and accommodations in order to complete their programs successfully. The University will take reasonable steps to provide such services and accommodations that do not compromise the quality and integrity of the student’s academic program. Self-identification is voluntary and confidential, and access to information must be approved by the applicant. To facilitate accommodation, however, McMaster University urges applicants to declare any disabilities, as well as to provide details concerning accommodations provided by their previous educational institutions, at the time of application. Such declaration is encouraged particularly in cases where it is felt that the disability may have affected past academic performance, and/or where accommodation may be required in order for the student to complete his/her graduate program. Applicants who have been identified and who are offered admission will need to consult with their Department/Program Chair and the Centre for Student Development as early as possible, and preferably prior to enrolment, to identify and implement an appropriate accommodation plan. At all times, concern for maintaining the dignity of the individuals involved will be paramount. Failure to disclose a disability at the time of admission, however, may delay or otherwise compromise the accommodation process.
Special services and accommodations are provided on an individual basis, are disability specific, and are consistent with the academic objectives of the course and program. McMaster University’s Policy for Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities outlines the steps that must be taken in order to arrange for such services and accommodations (see Sections 31-34 inclusive). The full policy is available from the Centre for Student Development.
6.6 Student/Faculty Non-Disclosure Agreements
The School of Graduate Studies encourages the cooperation of faculty with the private sector. Often cooperation will permit the involvement of graduate students. When this happens, it is not unusual for a company to protect its interests by asking the faculty member and the student to sign a confidential Non-disclosure Agreement. Such agreements, even those signed only by the faculty member but referring to student involvement, can restrict conditions for a number of matters important to students, such as their wish to publish research results, the thesis defense, and the deposit of the thesis with libraries. In many cases, the restrictions are reasonable and do not clash with academic principles that require the presentation of research findings for peer assessment.
In those instances where a Non-disclosure Agreement has been signed, a supervisor must notify the Associate Vice-President & Dean of Graduate Studies in writing of the Agreement, giving a brief description of its contents and assessing the impact on the thesis defense or dissemination of the thesis.
Students are advised to discuss any non-disclosure waivers or comparable agreements with the department chair, graduate advisor, or the School of Graduate Studies, before signing.
It has been common practice, in cases where a corporation wishes to protect its interests in a discovery, to delay placing copies of a thesis in libraries for up to twelve months after the oral defense, but not for longer periods.
It has not been common practice in these same cases to limit attendance at oral defences to only examination committee members; nor has it been common practice to have examination committee members agree to non-disclosure agreements. The pertinent guiding principle is that oral defences are public events.
Students in doubt about how these norms of academic activity apply to their circumstances should approach the Associate Vice-President & Dean of Graduate Studies.
6.7 Conflict of Interest Guidelines, School of Graduate Studies
There shall be no prohibition on the grounds of family relationship against the admission of persons as full- or part-time graduate students or against the eligibility for financial awards of such persons. Faculty members normally shall not take part in any proceedings at any level which affect the graduate standing of a spouse or other relative (including admission, financial assistance, promotion, courses of instruction, supervisory, thesis and examining committees). It is understood that the merits of each individual shall be the overriding consideration in all such cases.
6.7.2 Conflict of Interest in the Evaluation of Graduate Students
All faculty members responsible for the evaluation of graduate students have a general responsibility to the University to ensure that they are not in a position of conflict of interest (or the appearance of a conflict of interest) in their obligations to the University with regard to the nature of their relationships with graduate students. Specifically, a faculty member may not be involved in the evaluation of a graduate student if the faculty member has a close family relationship with the student (including spouse, parent, child, sibling, niece/nephew or spouses of the foregoing), if the faculty member is, or has been engaged to be married to the student, or if the faculty member has (or has had) an intimate personal relationship with the student. Evaluation includes grading course work or examinations (including the defense of a thesis) and supervision, whether as the principal supervisor or as a member of a supervisory committee.
A faculty member should question the propriety of evaluating a graduate student if there exists a distant family relationship with the student, or if the faculty member and the student maintain or have had a business relationship or any other relationship which should reasonably give cause for concern.
Questionable cases should be referred to the Associate Vice-President & Dean of Graduate Studies for a decision.
6.8 Student Academic Records
Student academic records are the property of the University. The University has developed procedures designed to protect the confidentiality of student records. A student may have access to her or his file, but documents received from a third party in confidence will not be disclosed.
Transcripts are issued only with the consent of the student.
6.9 McMaster University Workplace and Environmental Health and Safety Policy
McMaster University is committed to provide and maintain healthy and safe working and learning environments for all employees, students, volunteers and visitors. This is achieved by observing best practices which meet or exceed the standards to comply with legislative requirements as contained in the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act, Environmental Protection Act, Nuclear Safety and Control Act and other statutes, their regulations, and the policy and procedures established by the University. To support this commitment both McMaster University and its employees are responsible jointly to implement and maintain an Internal Responsibility System directed at promoting health and safety, preventing incidents involving occupational injuries and illnesses or adverse effects upon the natural environment.
The University is responsible for the provision of information, training, equipment and resources to support the Internal Responsibility System and ensure compliance with all relevant statutes, this policy and internal health and safety programs. Managers and Supervisors are accountable for the safety of workers within their area, for compliance with statutory and University requirements, and are required to support Joint Health and Safety Committees. Employees are required to work in compliance with statutory and University requirements, and to report unsafe conditions to their supervisors.
Contractors and subcontractors undertaking to perform work for McMaster University must, as part of their contract, comply with all relevant workplace and environmental health and safety statutes and to meet or exceed the University’s Workplace and Environmental Health and Safety Program requirements.
In addition to the above stated managerial responsibilities, Deans, Directors, Chairs, Research Supervisors and other Managers are also accountable for the safety of students, volunteers and visitors who work and/or study within their area of jurisdiction. Students are required by University policy to comply with all University health, safety and environmental programs.
The authority and responsibility for the administration of procedures and programs to provide for the implementation of this policy is assigned to the Office of the Vice President, Administration.
The Risk Management Support Group is responsible for facilitating the development, implementation and auditing of the Health and Safety Programs effective under this policy. This is achieved through the implementation of a risk management system that is directed at supporting the Internal Responsibility System through the application of best practices for the management of occupational, environmental, public health and safety related risks.
The Office of the Vice President, Administration will provide reports to the University Board of Governors concerning the status and effectiveness of the Workplace and Environmental Health and Safety System and any notices of violation issued to the University regarding breaches of workplace health and safety or environmental protection statutes.
6.10 Inter-University Cooperation - Ontario Visiting Graduate Student
It is possible for a graduate student registered at McMaster University to take a graduate course at another Ontario university for credit toward the McMaster degree. To do so, the student must complete the form for an Ontario Visiting Graduate Student (available online using the Student Centre) and describe the course to be taken, the term in which it will be taken, and the reasons for taking the course. Approval of the student’s Department Chair and Supervisor are required before the form is submitted for approval to the School of Graduate Studies, which will send it to the host university. The course selected must be required for the student’s program, must be a graduate level course, and must not be available at McMaster University. Auditing of courses or registration for “extra” courses is not permitted.