As much as the university tries to maintain a positive graduate education environment, there are times when challenges occur. If the need arises, students are to use the following procedures and practices to assist them in any appeal they may have.
Academic Appeals Policy
In accordance with the College of Graduate Studies Policy on Academic Appeals, the procedures outlined to ensure the protection of students’ rights and serve as a reference on procedures for graduate student academic appeals. It is the responsibility of graduate faculty and graduate administrators to ensure these policies are applied correctly. It is also the responsibility of the student, when appealing decisions based on these policies, to provide complete and accurate background information regarding each appeal. If not resolved at the respective college level, the final authority of graduate student appeals is the Dean of the College of Graduate Studies. Each appeal is reviewed individually and all decisions are based on the merits and the documentation provided.
This Policy on Academic Appeals and the appeal process described herein is to be used by graduate students for the sole purpose of appealing decisions that affect their matriculation through the graduate academic program. Non-academic disputes that do not directly affect matriculation and good standing are excluded from this process. All decisions and actions will coincide with University policy and sound academic policy governing graduate programs at UCF. Appeal procedures should not be taken lightly nor ignored. Graduate students can contact the College of Graduate Studies for any questions concerning the academic appeals process. In the end, the recommendation is to start with the least formal efforts at resolving the issues you are experiencing.
Academic Appeal Steps
It is very important when instigating an appeals process that students follow proper lines of communication. It is also strongly recommended that students keep relevant records, data, and/or correspondence that can help support you in your appeal.
For Course Grades
Step 1: Contact the course instructor.
Step 2: If the matter cannot be resolved through the course instructor, your next step is to contact the Department Chair.
Step 3: If the matter cannot be resolved through the Department Chair, your next step is to contact the Dean of the College which hosts your program.
Step 4: If the matter cannot be resolved through the Dean and his/her review committee, your next step is to contact the Dean of the College of Graduate Studies. The final decision will be made at this level.
For Dissertation or Programmatic Matters
Step1: Contact your program advisor or your dissertation committee chair.
Step 2: If the matter cannot be resolved through your program advisor or dissertation committee chair, your next step is to contact the relevant Doctoral Program Coordinator.
Step 3: If the matter cannot be resolved through the Doctoral Program Coordinator, your next step is to contact the Department Chair.
Step 4: If the matter cannot be resolved through the Department chair, your next step is to contact the Dean of your College.
Step 5: If the matter cannot be resolved through the Dean of the College, your next step is to contact the Dean of the College of Graduate Studies. The Graduate Student Appeals Committee will then adjudicate the matter.
Teaching and learning are collaborative endeavors. Just as any close relationship requires excellent communication and problem-solving skills, so do professional relationships. Every graduate candidate will inevitably encounter conflict during their preparation and should expect to encounter conflict in their professional career. Having the skills and the experience to successfully navigate conflict are an essential part of doctoral preparation. We coach students to apply “guiding principles” to a helpful “conflict resolution process” that starts with analyzing/defining the problem considering potential solutions and their effects and then deciding on practical action.
The principles underlying conflict resolution are:
- Individuals filter experiences through personal lenses. A person’s standards or norms may be different from another person’s, resulting in different perceptions of a problem.
- Those who are in the situation can usually best solve the problem, not someone outside of the situation. If at all possible, individuals ought to talk to the person perceived to be a part of the problem, rather than to others. If needed, a person ought to first speak to an academic advisor who can offer coaching around language and ways to interact with the person.
- Most problems are best solved when addressed as soon as possible. Problems that fester are harder to solve. Consider setting up a private meeting that works well for the individuals involved.
- Most people act and talk with good intentions. Try to understand what the other person’s intentions might have been and/or assume that they may have been positive even if you did not perceive them that way. However part of problem-solving includes analyzing whether intentions matched the action perceived by the other person.
- In approaching another person about a problem, it is usually helpful to be prepared to suggest several possible resolutions. In fact, a first idea may not always be the most satisfying to everyone involved.
- Individuals have a tendency to assume that the other person involved in problem-solving has not listened when they do not agree. Although this is possible, it is not necessarily the case. When one feels that s/he has not been listened to, ask the other person to summarize what s/he has heard said. One may find that the person has listened but simply does not agree.
- Practice confidentiality! Resist the urge to share the issue with others not involved in the problem, including those in a university class or peers. Please know, though, that university faculty and the academic advisor are helpful mentors and “sounding boards”. They are always willing to help navigate conflict by coaching with this protocol!
- Avoid the tendency to make generalities regarding the situation (i.e.” everyone in our class feels this way”; “all of these students think and act alike”).
- When problems are well defined, resolutions follow more easily. To help define the problem consider the following process:
- Suspend judgment.
- Define the problem for yourself as clearly as you can at the point where you recognize that something is bothering you.
- Consider who/what is contributing to the problem. Consider your role in this issue.
- What is within your control and others’ control regarding the problem? If the problem is outside of yours and others’ control, practice acceptance.
- What do you suppose the other person’s interpretation of the problem is? Put yourself in the other person’s shoes.
- Now restate the problem. Are you ready to present the problem to those involved now?
UCF has provisions regarding the retention of candidates in its programs. If a candidate exhibits questionable progress or behavior at any time during the Doctoral Program as determined by his/her Advisor or Dissertation Chair, his/her continued participation in the program may be in jeopardy. Examples of a candidate’s demonstration of questionable progress or behavior are:
- Being on academic probation due to having a GPA below 3.0 in the program over 9 credit hours of course work (university policy: exclusion from the program).
- Failing the Candidacy Exam, Preprospectus, Prospectus, or Final Dissertation Defense after 2 attempts at each.
- Engaging in cheating, fabrication, and facilitation of academic dishonesty, plagiarism, or any other form of academic dishonesty or unacceptable student behavior at any time during the program.
- Noncompliance with Doctoral Program attendance expectations.
- Violation of Ethical Standards of the Doctoral Program or unprofessional behavior in a leadership position.
- Failure to comply with any University, College, Department, or Program standard or requirement.
The College of Graduate Studies reviews the performance and/or conduct of candidates whose continuation in the Doctoral Program is in jeopardy. The relevant program faculty will review the issue at hand and serves as an objective panel to study documents and information related to a candidate’s performance and/or conduct, and make recommendations related to the candidate’s continued participation based on the evidence submitted. The Doctoral Program Director will send a copy of written documentation of lack of progress to the candidate and invites the candidate to submit any evidence, either in person or in writing that he/she may have on the issue. If the candidate chooses to address the assigned program faculty in person, he/she may be accompanied by an advocate of his/her choice.
Recommendations by the relevant program faculty, in consultation with the candidate’s advisor and the Doctoral Program Director, may include, but are not limited to, any of the following actions:
- Remove the candidate from the program.
- Counsel the candidate to withdraw from the program.
- Suspend the candidate’s participation for a specified period of time.
- Monitor the candidate’s participation using specific measures recommended by the committee.
- Require the candidate to engage in some intervention/remediation measures, such as counseling, mentoring, remedial instruction.
- Take other action as determined appropriate by the committee.
Conflict of Interest and Commitment Statement
Conflicts of interest arise (1) when there is a divergence of an individual’s private, personal relationships or interests and his/her professional obligations to the university, or (2) when employers and employees work together but with unequal power in the relationship.
It is important to realize that as a graduate student you should not:
- Engage in an amorous relationship (consensual or otherwise) with a faculty member who is supervising you, teaching you, or likely to have academic responsibility for you at some time during your UCF tenure
- Engage in personal external activities for your employer or faculty advisor, if such involvement is coerced or presented as a quid pro quo or would conflict with your time commitments to the university
- Engage in an amorous relationship (consensual or otherwise) with a student that you may be instructing or teaching or evaluating as a graduate assistant
For the approved policy, see Conflicts of Interest on the Graduate Council website.
The National Science Foundation has now instituted a requirement that graduate students who engage in NSF- funded research must receive training and oversight in the responsible and ethical conduct of research and that this must be described in each request for funding. The National Institutes of Health have had this requirement for some time.
It is important to be familiar with what constitutes research misconduct. Since research will be a new experience for most of you, it may not be obvious or understandable in the beginning what misconduct is nor how to ensure that it does not happen to you, but it is essential that mistakes in this area are not made.
According to the National Science Foundation (www.nsf.gov/bfa/dias/policy/rcr.jsp),
Research misconduct means fabrication, falsification, or plagiarism in proposing or performing research funded by NSF, reviewing research proposals submitted to NSF, or in reporting research results funded by NSF.
Fabrication means making up data or results and recording or reporting them.
Falsification means 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.
Plagiarism means the appropriation of another person’s ideas, processes, results or words without giving appropriate credit.
Research, for purposes of this section, includes proposals submitted to NSF in all fields of science, engineering, mathematics, and education and results from such proposals. Research misconduct does not include honest error or differences of opinion.
Here are some other helpful sources on this topic:
Center for Engineering, Ethics, and Society
Office of Research Integrity, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Some important ideas to keep in mind are:
- Keep careful records of your data, including procedures and results, and ensure that your results are repeatable.
- Report any instance of research misconduct that you are aware of to your faculty adviser, program director or the Office of Research and Commercialization.
- Do not allow yourself or others to be listed as an author unless you have made an important contribution to the research publication.
- Always reference your sources, and particularly, when using the internet, be sure to keep the original file so that you can go back and ensure the correct reference of the source.