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Conducting Research

The Ph.D. in Communication Arts and Sciences is foremost a research degree.  Graduate students learn to conduct high quality research that will advance knowledge, develop and test theory, and offer novel and compelling insights into communication in our society.  Conducting research carries with it important responsibilities, including upholding standards for scholarly integrity, following guidelines for the treatment of human research subjects, promoting ethical professional conduct, and navigating the realm of co-authorship and collaboration.  Learn more about these responsibilities and related resources by exploring these topics.

What is the Scholarly and Research Integrity Requirement?

Effective August 2009, all entering graduate students, by act of the Graduate School, mustcomplete two on-line courses involving (1) the Responsible Conduct of Research and (2) Training in the Use of Human Subjects. In both instances, the selection of courses satisfying the requirement should reflect one’s area of emphasis: Social Science or Humanities. Students must complete the two courses by no later than October 1 in the first year of their entry into the Graduate Program. In addition to the on-line instruction, those in the Ph.D. Program must complete five hours of discussion-based instruction involving research integrity and the responsible conduct of research that the Graduate Officer will arrange. Such instruction ordinarily will occur in the Fall semester of one’s first year but not prior to October 1. Students in the M.A. Program who
advance to the Ph.D. Program will have to complete the discussion-based component in the first year of doctoral study but will not have to repeat the on-line courses. Failure to complete these requirements will prevent one from earning a degree. For additional information, visit


What policies are in place concerning the use of human subjects in research?

Pennsylvania State University is positively and unequivocally committed to the promotion, encouragement, and facilitation of academic and clinical research in the broad area of general or specific measurements of human development, health, and performance. The University is dedicated to the ethical treatment of human participants in all research activities conducted under the auspices of this institution and assumes responsibility for safeguarding their rights and welfare. In service of these commitments, the University maintains an Institutional Review Board (IRB) that must approve all research involving human participants before it may begin.

To read the full Penn State policy on the use of human subjects in research, to learn more about Penn State's IRB, and to learn more about the responsibilities of researchers conducting this research, go to: 


What are Penn States standards for professional ethics?

Penn State maintains a statement of standards of professional ethics that serve as a guide to behavior in navigating the variety of oblications assumed by all members of the academic community.

To read the Penn State General Standards of Professional Ethics, and for links to additional relevant policies, go to:


How does Penn State handle inquiries or investigations into questions of ethics in research and other scholarly activities?

Misconduct in research or other scholarly activities is prohibited and allegations of such misconduct shall be investigated thoroughly and resolved promptly. Further, the University shall take such action as may be necessary to ensure the integrity of research or scholarly work, the rights and interests of research subjects and the public, and the observance of legal requirements or responsibilities. Violation of University policy shall be considered to be a serious breach of the trust placed in each member of the faculty and staff, as well as all students, and may result in the imposition of disciplinary sanctions, including, but not limited to, dismissal from employment or enrollment.

Faculty and staff members and students have a personal responsibility for complying with this policy and for assisting their associates in continuing efforts to avoid any activity which may be considered in violation of University policy.

To read the University policy on addressing allegations of research misconduct, go to:


What policies exist to guide co-authorship of scholarly reports, papers, and publications?

It is the policy of The Pennsylvania State University that proper credit be given to those individuals who make material contributions to activities which lead to scholarly reports, papers and publications.

For guidelines on the appropriate distribution of credit and authorship of scholarly publications, go to: