Graduate and doctoral programs often task students with conducting research and reporting their findings. Many times, a student will dedicate a tremendous amount of time to conducting research only to find out it does not confirm their theory. Out of frustration, a student may change some data or even report results not supported by their findings. What happens if a professor or dissertation committee finds out you falsified your research? Read on for the answer from a lawyer for university students.
I am being charged with falsification by my university. What is falsification?
The definition of falsification for your school is often outlined in the student handbook under the academic integrity section. Colleges generally define falsification as changing data or findings to fit your needs. This means that if you conduct research, cite statistics, or use other methods of recording data and it doesn’t quite work out how you need it to, you can’t change it. If you do change your data, you could be charged with falsification.
Can my university tell if I falsify data or research findings?
Maybe. I am sure some universities may not catch on and some students make slight changes without being caught. Of course, that never justifies falsifying anything. However, it only takes one sharp-eyed professor to put you in a bad position with your university.
What happens if I am caught falsifying my data or research findings?
This depends on your university procedure for academic integrity violations. Public and private universities often have different processes. Check your student handbook to be sure what to expect if charged with falsification. Generally, students are given the chance to defend themselves against a charge of academic dishonesty. It may happen between just you and the professor or in front of an academic integrity committee. Check your university student handbook to be sure.
What can happen if I am found guilty of falsification?
The university will give you a sanction. A sanction is a punishment. The punishment depends on the severity of the violation and if you have had any other academic integrity issues. I have seen sanctions range from a warning up to dismissal and expulsion from a university.
Can I appeal my disciplinary sanction for falsification?
Yes. This appeal is often the last chance a student has at fighting a disciplinary sanction and is a written submission to the dean or provost of the university. Be careful to note the time frame in which a student must submit the appeal and pay close attention to the issues that can be argued. Universities often limit the categories that a student can argue on appeal. The most common categories are new information, harshness of sanction, or policy violations.I write appeals for students using my extensive background as an appellate attorney and specialized knowledge of the academic disciplinary process.
Can you help me defend against the charge of falsification?
Yes. I offer student defense advising services throughout the United States. Using my nearly twenty years as an attorney combined with a unique knowledge of the academic integrity process, I assist students to gain successful outcomes.
I handled the academic integrity process myself and was found responsible for falsification. Can you help me appeal the disciplinary sanction?
Yes, I write student disciplinary appeals. Using my nearly twenty years as a skilled appellate lawyer, I possess the specialized skills necessary to writing effective student appeals.
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Richard Asselta is an award-winning student defense lawyer who offers academic advising services throughout the United States. He is experienced in defending all types of college disciplinary issues, including falsification. Click here to read what clients are saying about Richard Asselta on AVVO, a lawyer review website.