Standards of Professional Conduct for PhD Researchers

The PhD Researcher Charter sets out what PhD researchers can expect of the University and what the University expects of PhD researchers and is supported by the Code of Practice for Professional Integrity in the Conduct of Research.

The University launched the refreshed Organisational Values at Ulster University, which are embedded around 4 core values of integrity, collaboration, enhancing potential and inclusion and the guidance which follows sets out general expectations in relation to standards of professional conduct for PhD researchers which are not specifically addressed in this Code of Practice. This guidance draws upon existing Ulster codes and policies for staff and students.

PhD researchers represent a unique group within the university community – you are registered onto a research degree programme and as such your status is different to taught students but equally you are not academic staff members (although some academic staff are registered to complete a PhD with us); as such this guidance aims to set out more clearly expectations in relation to professional conduct of this group.

Dignity at Work and Study

Ulster University is committed to creating and sustaining a welcoming, inclusive and accessible learning and working environment which is free from all and any forms of bullying and harassment. This is supported and underpinned by the University’s mission, which is to: “transform lives, stretch minds, develop skills and raise ambitions, deliver globally significant research with local relevance, encourage a diverse university community and make a lasting contribution to society as a whole”. All members of the University community (including staff, PhD researchers and students) are expected to assist in the promotion of an environment where every member of the University community is treated with respect and dignity. Bullying and harassment can take many forms, from the most obvious (for example aggression, threats and shouting are clearly bullying) to the more subtle (such as isolation or non-co-operation at work, exclusion from social activities or conversation, which also fall within the definition of bullying).

The University does not condone any form of bullying or harassment as outlined in its Bullying and Harassment (Dignity at Work) Policy and Procedures.

Health & Safety

It is your responsibility while involved in University activities, either on or off campus, to adhere to the University's Health and Safety policies. In brief you must:

  • take reasonable care for the health and safety of yourself and of other persons who may be affected by your acts or omissions;
  • follow the Health & Safety Policy and comply with any health and safety instruction given to you;
  • co-operate and comply with health and safety policy and procedures in operation within the University, so far as is necessary, to enable any duty or requirement imposed upon the University by relevant statutory provisions to be performed or complied with;
  • not, without the consent of the member of staff in charge of the areas or activity, introduce any equipment for use on University premises, alter any fixed installations, alter or remove health and safety notices or equipment, or otherwise take any action which may create hazards for employees of the University or for persons using the premises; and
  • not intentionally or recklessly interfere with or misuse anything provided in the interests of health, safety or welfare in pursuance of any of the relevant statutory provisions.

Supervisory meetings and maintaining records of your research work:  You must keep full, clear, and accurate records of your supervisory meetings and research work. You must complete all records promptly and as soon as possible after each supervisory meeting, logging these on PhD Manager in a timely manner.

Email

While the University/Doctoral College will, occasionally, write to you at your home or term-time address, the majority of communications from us will be via email. At registration you are allocated a University email account. This is the only email address we will use for communication with you. You are expected to check your University email account frequently (at least weekly) for important communications. Guidelines for using email include useful advice:

  • Respond to emails in a timely manner; for example, if your supervisors communicate with you please acknowledge the email and response as appropriate within a reasonable time-frame;
  • Make sure your words cannot be misinterpreted. Read the message carefully before you send it;
  • Don't use capital letters ' it implies you are shouting;
  • Consider email etiquette and include both an appropriate salutation and contact details at the message-end (known as a 'signature'); you are encouraged to include your subject area and refer to yourself as a ‘PhD researcher’ in your email signature.

All PhD researchers must comply with the University IT Acceptable Use Code of Practice.

Social media

Social media must only be used in ways that do not breach University policies, statutes, regulations or ordinances. For example, PhD researchers should not use social media in ways that breach the University’s Bullying and Harassment Policy, the University’s Charter, Statutes and Ordinances, relating to discipline, the University’s Acceptable Use of IT Code of Practice, the Equal Opportunities Policy or the Data Protection Policy.

Discipline

Misuse or damage to University property or facilities is likely to lead to disciplinary action which could result in termination of your research studies and/or payment for damages and call out charges. A breach of discipline can range from a failure to comply with any Statute, Ordinance, Regulation or Rule prescribed for the conduct and discipline of PhD researchers, to theft, riotous or disorderly behaviour and plagiarism. For more information, refer to the Student Discipline Ordinance XLII and further information on student disciplinary matters which outlines how such discipline breaches by PhD researchers will be dealt with.

Academic engagement

All PhD researchers are strongly encouraged to be active members of the academic community and to support and/or participate in research seminars, school events or other research activities where possible.