Guidelines for Good Practices in Graduate Education

High-quality graduate education depends upon professional and ethical conduct by all participants. Although Rice University is composed of many distinct disciplines and programs, we, its faculty and students, nevertheless form a single scholarly community. As such we have communal responsibilities for upholding academic standards and sustaining a creative, collegial environment.

The following guidelines delineate practices that will promote execution of our academic responsibilities and foster quality graduate education. They are based on the collective experience and wisdom of a number of major research universities and are largely a matter of honesty, courtesy, and common sense. They define our expectations for the three major components of graduate education within the University; the graduate program, the faculty advisor and the graduate student. Although some of these guidelines have a more limited relevance, most are applicable across all disciplines.

Graduate Programs should:

  • Provide for prospective and continuing students the following information:

    • the specific requirements for achieving particular advanced degrees;

    • the forms of funding available and the procedures for receipt and continuation of financial support;

    • admission statistics and attrition rates from the various degree programs, average time for degree completion, and realistic information on career opportunities including data on placement of recent graduates.

  • Provide appropriate training at the departmental, divisional, or university level for graduate students who teach.

  • Inform students of university policies affecting them such as those on intellectual policy, environmental health and safety and misconduct in research

Faculty Advisors should:

  • Serve as intellectual and professional mentors to their graduate students, by:

    • helping students develop the relevant professional skills required by the discipline;

    • helping more advanced students design research that takes advantage of their individual interests and strengths and can be completed in a timely manner;

    • encouraging, by example and precept, a dedication to honest, accurately reported research and high-quality teaching.

  • Provide students with evaluation of their progress and performance in an objective manner at frequent and mutually understood intervals. It is especially important for faculty to provide students with timely and candid advice when their performance is deficient or their lack of progress might prevent them from attaining the desired degree.

  • Be knowledgeable concerning the academic and non-academic policies that pertain to graduate students, including:

    • helping students understand the requirements and timetable that each must meet including course work, languages, research tools, specific research responsibilities, examinations, and thesis or dissertation.

  • Prepare students to be competitive for employment, by:

    • acknowledging student contributions to research presented at conferences, in professional publications, or in applications for copyrights and patents;

    • encouraging graduate students to participate in professional meetings, perform or display their work in public settings, and publish the results of their research;

    • providing a realistic view of the field and the current job market and making use of professional contacts for the benefit of their students.

  • Maintain a high level of professionalism, including:

    • excusing themselves from participating in committee decisions regarding any student with whom they have a relationship that could result in a conflict of interest;

    • never impeding a graduate student's progress toward the degree or toward employment in order to benefit from the student's proficiency as a teaching or research assistant;

    • interacting with students, staff, and faculty colleagues in a professional and civil manner, and in accordance with University policies.

Graduate Students should:

  • Understand the following elements of the faculty advisors' role:

    • the faculty advisor provides the intellectual and instructional environment in which the student conducts research, and, through access to teaching and research funds, may also provide the student with financial support;

    • the faculty advisor is responsible for monitoring the accuracy, validity, and integrity of the student's research, and for ensuring that the contributions of all participants in the research are properly acknowledged in any publications. For these reasons and because the quality of that research reflects on the student, the faculty advisor, and the University, students should always consult with their advisors before attempting to publish the results of work carried out under the advisor's direction and/or in the advisor's studio or laboratory;

    • there are time constraints and other demands imposed on faculty members and program staff;

    • faculty advisors should be advised at regular intervals on matters related to research and progress with the degree program.

  • Take primary responsibility for informing themselves of the regulations and policies governing their financial aid, degree and course requirements, and research activities. This may involve:

    • consulting departmental notes or guidelines for graduate students; seeking clarification from the faculty advisor when they are uncertain about the precise meaning or application of a regulation or policy statement.

  • Exercise high professional standards in all aspects of their work. This includes:

    • observing the University's policy on research misconduct. This policy applies to researchers in all disciplines and to students as well as faculty and staff;

    • maintaining absolute integrity in taking examinations and in collecting, analyzing, and presenting research data;

    • taking special care to preserve the data collected during experiments or noted during research (with precise identification of sources) in order to avoid future confusion or disputes about access or ownership;

    • acknowledging the contributions of the faculty advisor and other members of the research team to the student's work in all publications and conference presentations. (It is also appropriate to acknowledge the sources of financial support);

    • maintaining the confidentiality of the faculty advisor's professional activities and research prior to presentation or publication, in accordance with existing practices and policies of the discipline;

    • interacting with faculty, staff and other students in a mature, professional, and civil manner in accordance with university policies.

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