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TCNJ Psychology Department Ethical Principles and Code of Conduct

Introduction

In this document, we outline four principles that encompass the nature of ethical conduct within TCNJ’s Psychology Department. These principles should be upheld in all of the contexts in which the members of the department engage: courses, research, and the community.  Accordingly, for each of these three contexts we have outlined standards for ethical behavior that are based on the principles listed below. These principles are meant to supplement – not replace – other guidelines for ethical behavior that members of the TCNJ Psychology Department are expected to uphold, such as the American Psychological Association’s (APA) Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct, TCNJ’s Policy Manual  and Student Conduct CodeTCNJ’s Academic Integrity policy, the Belmont Report, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, and guidelines of the Psychology Department’s Research Planning and Ethics Committee.

 

Guiding principles

Principle 1. Commitment to Psychological Learning, Science, and Practice

As members of the TCNJ Psychology Department, we are united in our passion for the field of psychology. We should all strive to learn more about psychology and to help others learn. We should be rigorous in our research and practice, and we should share what we learn with others.

Principle 2. Integrity
The psychological enterprise depends on relationships of trust and honesty, including but not limited to relationships between students and faculty, researchers and participants, clients and therapists, and scientists and the public. To maintain trust, we should present ourselves, our research and practice, and our discipline accurately and honestly at all times. We should not intentionally misrepresent or exaggerate who we are, what we know, or what we have done or could do.

Principle 3. Respect for and Recognition of People’s Rights, Dignity, and Diversity

Following the APA’s ethical principles, we should “respect the dignity and worth of all people, and the rights of individuals to privacy, confidentiality, and self-determination.”  We should be “aware of and respect cultural, individual, and role differences; including those based on age, gender, gender identity, race, ethnicity, culture, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, disability, language, accent, and socioeconomic status.”  We should limit the effects of bias in our decision making and we should point out potential bias when we see it.  We should make every effort to display this respect in our psychological endeavors and to maximize the potential benefits of our psychological activities while minimizing the potential harms.

Principle 4. Transparency and Fairness

When we make decisions regarding important outcomes, we should do so as transparently as possible, consistently applying principles and procedures that have been agreed upon by the department.

 

Ethical conduct in coursework

 Many of our interactions in the Psychology Department take place in the context of specific courses. This includes what happens in the physical classroom and also what happens in related activities, such as office hours, study sessions, completing assignments, and preparing course materials. Ethical principles and standards should be upheld at all times across these contexts.

Relevant Roles

  •  Instructor
  • Student
  • Instructional Intern

Standards

  1. Students and Instructional Interns should present themselves and their work accurately and honestly to Instructors. (Principle 2)
  2. Students should support each other’s learning, including contributing their fair share to group projects, asking critical questions in class discussions, and giving honest, constructive feedback when a professor asks that they complete a peer review assignment. (Principle 1)
  3. Students and Instructional Interns should strive to increase their understanding of psychology. This means that they should work diligently in classes, with learning as a primary goal. (Principle 1)
  4. Instructors are responsible for articulating clear standards in the assessment of student work, including the work of Instructional Interns. (Principle 4)
  5. Instructors, Instructional Interns, and Students will interact with one another in a way that values all individuals equally and treats all students equitably. (Principles 1 and 3)
  6. Instructors and Instructional Interns are expected to keep student information private and confidential, as outlined by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).  They should not share student information with other students or with people outside the college. They should only share information with each other when it is instructionally relevant. (Principles 2 and 3)
  7.  Instructors and Instructional Interns should accurately represent their expertise to students, as well as the limits of their expertise. They should share what they know and be open about what they do not know. (Principle 2)
  8. Instructors are responsible for preparing course materials such as syllabi, lectures, assignments, activities, and discussions in a way that (a) encourages students’ and instructional interns’ learning, (b) is consistent with TCNJ policies and guidelines, and (c) demonstrates enthusiasm for and rigor in psychological research and practice.Students and instructional interns can expect instructors to: set deadlines and work demands that are appropriate for achieving learning objectives, and communicate information about course materials clearly. (Principle 1)
    1. They should not misrepresent their academic standing or history.
    2. They should not lie about why they missed class or handed in an assignment late.
    3. They should fairly represent their contributions to group assignments.
    4. They should not submit others’ work as their own; nor should they knowingly share their work with others who might submit that work as their own.
    5. They should not state or imply that they have read, written, or understood things that they have not, in fact, read, written, or understood.
  9. Instructors, Instructional Interns, and Students should accurately credit the scholarly sources they cite when preparing course materials and assignments. (Principles 1, 2)

 

Ethical conduct in research

The TCNJ Psychology Department places a strong emphasis on research, both for faculty members and for students. As such, many of our interactions take place in the context of research experiences, such as faculty studies and student projects (e.g., in Research Seminar, Laboratory Learning, Independent Study, or Honors Theses). Ethical principles and standards should be upheld at all times across these contexts. If research experiences take place in the context of specific courses (e.g., PSY 299, PSY 390, PSY 393), the roles and standards outlined for “Ethical conduct in coursework” apply as well.

 Relevant Roles

  •  Faculty Investigator
  • Student Investigator
  • Research Participants

Standards

  1. Faculty Investigators and Student Investigators should take care in conceptualizing their research projects and devising their methods so that they can maximize their contributions to psychological knowledge and practice while minimizing risk to Investigators and Research Participants. (Principles 1 and 3)
  2. Faculty Investigators and Student Investigators should strive to work collaboratively and communicate openly about the research process. Faculty Investigators should encourage Student Investigators to make contributions to, as well as express concerns about, the research process. (Principles 1 and 2)
    1. Student Investigators should report problems associated with administering research studies, including violations of data collection protocols.
    2. Student Investigators have the right to refuse to participate in research activities that they find objectionable.
  3. Faculty and Student Investigators should do their best to ensure that participants learn about psychology by taking part in research. Investigators should thoroughly provide informed consent to Participants, making sure that individuals understand the benefits and risks involved with a research study. They should also debrief Participants, explaining to them the question under study and the rationale behind the method, including, if applicable, the use of deception in the study. This is especially important in research conducted through PIPER, which has the explicit aim of teaching students about research. (Principles 1 and 2)
  4. Faculty and Student Investigators should be willing to share research findings with other people at TCNJ, other psychologists, or other people in the public at large. When they do so, they should be transparent about the strengths and limits of the research. (Principles 1 and 2)
  5. When conducting or participating in research, Faculty Investigators, Student Investigators, and Research Participants should be respectful of shared department resources (e.g., communal lab spaces, computers and other research equipment, and PIPER credit). Faculty Investigators and Student Investigators should be mindful that the department has limited resources and many research demands. (Principles 1 and 4)
  6. When conducting research with Student Investigators, Faculty Investigators should be mindful of student learning. Student Investigators are in a uniquely vulnerable position because of the incentives associated with their participation, such as course credit, recommendations from Faculty Investigators, or authorship on presentations and publications. A primary aim of research projects conducted with Student Investigators is to enhance Student Investigators’ understanding of psychological science, not to achieve outcomes such as publications, conference presentations, etc. If research results will be disseminated (e.g., via publications or presentations), Faculty and Student Investigators should discuss the scope of work and the guidelines for determining authorship, as outlined in APA’s description of Publication Practices and Responsible Authorship: http://www.apa.org/research/responsible/publication/index.aspx. (Principles 1 and 2)
  7. Faculty and Student Investigators should be honest and transparent in conducting their studies, analyzing their results, and reporting their findings. (Principles 1 and 2).
    1. They should not copy or fabricate data.
    2. They should report how they determined sample size, all data exclusions (if any), all manipulations, and all measures included in the study.
    3. They should not present exploratory research as hypothesis testing.
  8. Faculty and Student Investigators are expected to respect data integrity (e.g., confidentiality, anonymity), as outlined by the APA Code of Conduct regarding Privacy and Confidentiality (http://www.apa.org/ethics/code/index.aspx?item=7). They should maintain data security and not share identifiable data from individual participants with anyone who is not a member of the research team. (Principles 2 and 3)
  9. Research Participants should respect that participation is a chance to learn about psychological research and contribute to psychological knowledge. They should respect the time and effort of the investigators. Therefore, they should be engaged and attentive while participating in research. (Principles 1 and 2)
    1. They should carefully read study descriptions and sign up for those whose requirements they are willing and able to meet.
    2. They should provide accurate data.
    3. They should report their time commitment honestly; they should not misrepresent the time they spent participating in order to accumulate additional PIPER credits or other rewards.

 

Ethical conduct in the community

Our endeavors in the field of psychology will affect individuals and institutions outside of the department. Ethical principles and standards should be upheld in these situations at all times, whether we are engaged in the community as an intern, volunteer, clinician, consultant, or presenter.

Relevant Roles

  •  Intern: Members of the Psychology Department may take on an internship position (i.e., for course credit) or a volunteer position at organizations dedicated to providing psychological services for various populations. If the internship experience takes place in the context of specific courses (e.g., PSY 383, PSY 399), the roles and standards outlined for “Ethical conduct in coursework” apply as well.
  • Faculty Sponsors: Faculty who sponsor student interns are responsible for the same ethical standards as Instructors (see Ethical conduct in coursework). Faculty Sponsors have additional ethical responsibilities unique to the demands of overseeing student learning and involvement in applied settings.
  • Representative of the Field: Members of the Psychology Department are representatives of psychology any time they apply their training in the field outside of the department or seek experiences outside the department to further their psychological training.

Standards

  1.  Interns, Faculty Sponsors, and Representatives of the Field will apply their psychological training to the experiences of others honestly and commensurately with their level of psychological expertise. Interns, Faculty Sponsors, and Representatives of the Field will acknowledge when they do not have the knowledge or training in psychology to advise an individual or to address a given situation, and seek the expertise of someone who does have relevant knowledge, such as the Faculty Sponsor or Counseling and Psychological Services staff (http://caps.pages.tcnj.edu). (Principles 1 and 2)
  2. When the community activities of Interns and Representatives of the Field give them access to knowledge about other individuals that is sensitive (i.e., information that might socially disadvantage another person were the information to become publicly available), Interns and Representatives of the Field will protect the privacy of these individuals and keep such information confidential. (Principle 3)
  3. Faculty Sponsors will ask Interns whether they have a clear understanding of the nature of their on-site responsibilities, whether they are ethically comfortable with these responsibilities, and whether they receive adequate supervision on site. Faculty Sponsors will help to address and remedy any concerns raised by Interns with on-site supervisors. (Principles 1 and 3)
  4. Interns and Representatives of the Field will interact with individuals in the community in a way that values all individuals equally. (Principle 3)
  5. Interns and Representatives of the Field will use professional behavior and comportment to represent the field of psychology and the Department responsibly. Interns will be honest with colleagues or supervisors concerning their volunteer or internship activities. (Principles 1 and 2)

 

Code of Conduct Addendum

The Department of Psychology at The College of New Jersey endorses the policy that equal opportunity, fairness, and equity shall be assured in the evaluation, promotion, and retention of faculty, staff, and students without regard to race, color, creed, national origin, sex, age, disability, or sexual preference. The department believes in the importance of a working and educational environment that is free from discrimination or harassment on any of the above grounds. All members of the department, who are the victims of such misconduct, as well as those who are aware of discrimination or harassment, should seek remedy. If at all possible, attempts to resolve problems should begin with the individuals directly involved jointly addressing any inappropriate conduct. Should such efforts fail or be deemed not possible, consultation with the department’s Chair may be undertaken. If a satisfactory resolution is not attained at the departmental level, appropriate procedures may be taken by the Affirmative Action/Equal Employment Opportunity and Diversity Officer at TCNJ.

The Psychology Department strives to provide a high-quality education to all students; however, we realize we may miss something that needs addressing. We understand that there are a variety of issues that may come up, so we have provided a variety of options below. If you are uncertain on how to report or which one to choose, please pick the one you feel best meets your needs.

Report an Affirmative Action Concern or Violation

TCNJ is committed to providing its current and prospective employees and students with a workplace/educational environment free from prohibited discrimination or harassment. Prohibited discrimination/harassment undermines the integrity of the academic environment and employment relationship, compromises equal employment opportunity, debilitates morale and interferes with the opportunity for all persons to fully participate in the academic, work and living environment of the College.

Report a Student Code of Conduct Violation

The complete Student Conduct Code outlines students’ responsibilities and the process of adjudicating alleged violations.

Report an Academic Integrity Violation

Academic dishonesty can take many forms. The ultimate authorities on what is permissible in a given course are a professor and his or her syllabus and other course documents, but there are certain standards of academic honesty expected of TCNJ students, and a professor need not specifically prohibit in course documents those behaviors that are universally agreed upon as academic dishonesty (e.g., cheating on an exam). TCNJ is a community of scholars and learners who respect and believe in academic integrity. This integrity is violated when someone engages in academic dishonesty. Complaints of student academic misconduct will be addressed and adjudicated according to the Academic Integrity Procedural Standards.

Report Discrimination, Harassment (including sexual misconduct), or Retaliation

Title IX protection from gender-based discrimination in all college programs and activities extends to faculty, staff and students and includes such things as: sexual harassment, dating violence, domestic violence, stalking, gender-identity and pregnancy. It also prohibits retaliation against anyone who makes or participates in a complaint. Anyone can report a concern about sexual harassment, sexual misconduct or gender discrimination that impacts a person at TCNJ.

Download the Code of Conduct here

Download the Code of Conduct Addendum here

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