Code of Conduct

Honor and integrity are core values of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. They are foundational to public health and well-being, which flourish in a culture of respect, a commitment to shared responsibility, and trust. Trust requires that students take responsibility for all that they do.

Harvard Chan students are held to expectations for conduct that are in keeping with these core values. These expectations are intended to facilitate meaningful engagement with didactic material, and are intended to enhance student learning.

These conduct standards relate to work prepared for evaluation by course instructors and represent our commitment to academic integrity. Forms of evaluation include, but are not limited to, homework, take-home quizzes and examinations, in-class quizzes and examinations, presentations, and papers. To report a code of conduct violation, please complete and submit a Harvard Chan School’s Code of Conduct form.

The School’s values and standards—our code of conduct—also apply to general behavior, outside of the classroom context. For example, violations of our standards could include falsifying one’s identity for academic and professional purposes, unauthorized use of accounts, selling proprietary academic content, or research misconduct. Research misconduct by students ordinarily will be reviewed by the Office of Regulatory Affairs and Research Compliance, as detailed in the Research Misconduct Policy. The Office of Regulatory Affairs and Research Compliance then will coordinate with the Office for Student Services, which may impose sanctions pursuant to this Code of Conduct policy, depending upon the circumstances.

Academic Misconduct
Academic misconduct is antithetical to the core values of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.  Assessment, evaluation, and feedback are integral to learning, and serve a variety of educational purposes, such as:

  • To help the student develop and cogently express concepts, knowledge, and skills
  • To inspire creative thinking
  • To monitor and identify gaps between students’ learning and instructors’ expectations for demonstrated understanding or mastery
  • To provide a record of the students’ progress
  • To promote the learning of new material and to reinforce old material

Students who engage in academic misconduct (including, for example, plagiarizing, cheating, collaborating in unauthorized ways, fabricating or falsifying data) are pretending to have learned something they haven’t learned and are misrepresenting their level of mastery and skill.

Learning contexts vary, and different courses or academic tasks do not all have the same expectations. For example, some assignments explicitly may involve the goal of learning how to collaborate, while others have the explicit goal of generating original hypotheses or syntheses. All students are responsible for understanding the expectations and requirements of their academic work and knowing whether collaborative work is permitted for each of their courses and with respect to each assignment. While faculty and TAs should make every effort to outline expectations clearly, the onus for seeking clarification is on the student.

The examples below, while not intended to be exhaustive, are meant to establish a standard set of definitions of academic misconduct. The School reserves the right to determine, in a given instance, what action constitutes an infringement of honesty and integrity.  Sanctions will be aligned with the seriousness of the violation (see Reference Table for Recommended Sanctions for examples) and will apply to all students at Harvard Chan, including PhD students officially enrolled in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS), though GSAS may be consulted if an incident involves a PhD student. Similarly, for students who are cross-registered into a Harvard Chan class from another Harvard School, Harvard Chan will coordinate with the student’s home school on review processes and any recommended sanctions.

Plagiarism is the appropriation of another person’s ideas, processes, results or words without giving appropriate credit. All work submitted to meet course requirements is expected to be a student’s own work. Students should always take great care to distinguish their own ideas and knowledge from information derived from sources. Whenever ideas or facts are derived from a student’s reading and research, the sources must be indicated. The term “sources” includes not only published primary and secondary material but also information and opinions gained directly from other people (e.g., lecture, video, past presentations from students previously in the course, etc.). The responsibility for using proper forms of citation lies with the individual student. Direct quotes from other sources must be placed within quotation marks, and the original source must be clearly credited. All paraphrased material also must be acknowledged. If a student is unsure about the proper way to attribute credit for ideas other than their own, they should seek guidance from instructional staff and/or from Student Support Services.  Allegations of plagiarism by a student with respect to research activities ordinarily will be reviewed by the Office of Regulatory Affairs and Research Compliance, in coordination with the Office of Student Services, as set forth above.

Self-plagiarism is trying to submit work previously completed in one context as original in a new context. A paper or other work normally may be submitted only in one course. Students must obtain prior written permission of the current instructor in order to submit the same or substantially the same work in any other course. A student who submits the same or substantially the same work for more than one course without such prior permission is subject to sanctions.

Unapproved Collaboration
The default assumption is that students must produce their own work. Unapproved collaboration – that is, working with others outside the specified, assigned collaborative activities of a course – is prohibited. The amount of permitted collaboration in the completion of assignments depends on the policy set by the course instructor. Instructors are responsible for clearly stating collaboration policies in their course syllabi. Students are in turn responsible for understanding the appropriate degree of collaboration permitted by the instructional team, including clarifying any uncertainties with their instructors, and appropriately acknowledging collaboration in submitted work.  This requirement applies to collaboration on editing as well as on substance.

A note on computer programs: Like other written material, code written to satisfy a course requirement is expected to be the original work of the student submitting it. Copying a program from another student or from any other source without appropriate attribution is a form of academic dishonesty, as is deriving a program substantially from the work of others without proper citation or permission of the instructor.

Fabrication and Falsification
Fabrication is making up data or results and recording or reporting them.  Falsification is manipulating research materials, equipment, or processes, or changing or omitting data or results such that the research is not accurately represented in the research record.  Original research is an integral part of both academic training and the dissemination of general knowledge. While it comes in many forms, all research is held to rigorous standards both within the school in which it is conducted and beyond. As such, the fabrication or falsification of data, including but not limited to falsification of experimental results or surveys that are part of a student’s academic training, will not be tolerated in any form. Allegations of fabrication or falsification of data by a student with respect to research activities ordinarily will be reviewed by the Office of Regulatory Affairs and Research Compliance, in coordination with the Office for Student Services, as set forth above.

Cheating or Colluding to Cheat on Examinations
Cheating on exams, whether take-home or in-class, involves either submitting test answers that are not one’s own or providing test answers to others that they submit as if their own. Unless otherwise specified, take-home exams are given with the understanding that students may consult their class notes and other approved references but may not consult other students or other external sources. Students who submit work that is either not their own or lacks clear attribution of sources will be subject to sanctions. Students also should be aware that the school has common procedures for the administration of in-class examinations. Depending on the size of the class, proctors may be used to monitor examinations, and students may be asked to follow a certain seating arrangement. Before the examination, the instructor or proctor will explain any procedures to be followed.