The graduate student writing a dissertation needs to consider ethical issues related to both content and research protocol. Once published, this detailed academic study earns the writer a coveted doctoral degree.

Ethical Writing

Using another's words or ideas without giving credit--plagarism--ranks as the number-one sin throughout the academic community. Honesty, notes Dr. Sharon McNade of George Washington University, includes not altering quotations or data for a desired message.

Failure to get written permission for copyrighted works used in the dissertation could lead to infringement or even piracy charges. Scholar Carol M. Roberts writes that copyrighted material of up to 150 words usually falls under the "fair use" category and needs only to be cited as a reference.


The US Office for Human Research Protections requires colleges to have Institutional Review Boards (IRBs) to approve research projects using its guidelines. IRBs review dissertation proposals to ensure that the problem studied benefits the participants. IRB approvals require specific consent forms, confidentiality protection and procedures that consider the needs of and risks to all participants.

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