Academic Policies

AC47 General Standards of Professional Ethics (Formerly AD47)

Policy Status: 


Policy Steward: 

Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs


  • Purpose
  • Statements
  • Further Information
  • Cross References

    To set forth statements of general standards of professional ethics to serve as a reminder of the variety of obligations assumed by all members of the academic community


    1. Professors, guided by a deep conviction of the worth and dignity of the advancement of knowledge, recognize the special responsibilities placed upon them. Their primary responsibility to their respective subjects is to seek and to state the truth as they see it. To this end, they devote their energies to developing and improving their scholarly competence. They accept the obligation to exercise critical self-discipline and judgment in using, extending, and transmitting knowledge. They practice intellectual honesty. Although they may follow subsidiary interests, these interests must never seriously hamper or compromise their freedom of inquiry.
    2. As teachers, professors encourage the free pursuit of learning in their students. They hold before their students the best scholarly standards of their respective disciplines. They demonstrate respect for the student as an individual, and adhere to their proper role as intellectual guides and counselors. They make every reasonable effort to foster honest academic conduct and to assure that their evaluations of students reflect the students' true merit. They respect the confidential nature of the relationship between professor and student. They avoid any exploitation of students for private advantage and acknowledge significant assistance from them. They protect their students' academic freedom.
    3. As researchers/scholars, professors recognize that their goal is to discover, develop, and communicate new understanding. This goal is rarely achieved without making use of knowledge gained from others. Researchers must always exercise gracious and appropriate recognition of published work in the literature, conversations with colleagues, and the efforts of students who work under the researchers' guidance. They must be scrupulous in presentation of their own data; it must be verifiable as a result of the highest standards in data gathering techniques. They must be extremely careful in the use of data reported by others, especially if used in the formation of broad comparative or contradictory hypotheses, since they may not know of any compromising circumstances in such data gathering. They must be comprehensive in consideration of work with human subjects; they must have thoroughly researched all procedures, must have informed individuals involved of all aspects of their cooperation, and must report all responses accurately, both positive and negative results. As open-minded researchers, when evaluating the work of others, they must recognize the responsibility to allow publication of theories or experiments that may contradict their own findings, as only by free inquiry and dissemination of all facts will the fruits of the labor of the whole community be allowed to mature.
    4. As colleagues, professors have obligations that derive from common membership in the community of scholars. They respect and defend the free inquiry of their associates. In the exchange of criticism and ideas they show due respect for the opinions of others. They acknowledge their academic debts and strive to be objective in their professional judgment of colleagues. They accept their share of faculty responsibilities for the governance of their institution.
    5. As members of their institution, professors seek above all to be effective teachers and scholars. Although they observe the stated regulations of the institution, provided the regulations do not contravene academic freedom, they maintain their rights to criticize and seek revision. They determine the amount and character of the work they do outside their institution with due regard to their paramount responsibilities within it. When considering the interruption or termination of their service, they recognize the effect of this decision upon the programs of the institution and give due notice of their intentions.
    6. As members of the community, professors have the rights and obligations of all citizens. They measure the urgency of these obligations in the light of their responsibilities to their respective subjects, to their students, to their profession, and to their institution. When they speak or act as private persons they avoid creating the impression that they speak or act for their respective colleges or the University (See AD07). As citizens engaged in a profession that depends upon freedom for its health and integrity, professors have an articular obligation to promote conditions of free inquiry and to further public understanding of academic freedom.

    All tangible assets (including equipment, software, audio-visual material, theatrical costumes, etc.) owned, leased or operated by the University are to be used in the conduct of University programs and activities at University owned or leased locations.

    University departments may offer services only to other University departments and only for University-related work. Permitted work includes: instructional work for credit and non-credit courses, conferences, workshops, institutes, training programs, etc.; support for faculty research, publications, presentations, and outreach activities; services for recognized student organizations; and services for other organized student extramural activities.

    University tangible assets and services may not be used for personal gain by employees for purposes outside the scope of their employment (see also Policy HR35), or by students beyond their instructional requirements.


    For questions, additional detail, or to request changes to this policy, please contact the Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost.


    Additional Policies to refer to would include:

    AD07 - Use of University Name, Symbols and/or Graphic Devices,

    HR35 - Public Service by Members of the Faculty and Staff,

    HR91 - Conflict of Interest,

    IP02 - Coauthorship of Scholarly Reports, Papers and Publications (Formerly RA13),

    RP02 - Addressing Allegations of Research Misconduct (Formerly RA10, Handling Inquiries/Investigations Into Questions of Ethics in Research and in Other Scholarly Activities), and

    RP03 - The Use of Human Participants in Research (Formerly Policy RA14).

    Effective Date: May 10, 1996

    Date Approved: June 10, 1996

    Date Published: June 24, 1996 (Editorial change, August 21, 2014)

    Most Recent Changes :

    • August 21, 2014 - Editorial changes. In the STATEMENTS, VI. and CROSS REFERENCES sections, reference to Policy AD07, Use of University Name, Symbols and/or Graphic Devices, has been added. Addition of policy steward information, in the event that there are questions or requests for changes to the policy.

    Revision History (and effective dates):

    • June 14, 2006 - Revision History added.
    • May 10, 1996 - Former policy had been HR95 (previously PS95). Relocated to Administrative Policy section.
    • March 24, 1989 - Title changes, plus addition of "Cross Reference" section.
    • October 20, 1986 - New Policy.