Jul 13, 2024  
NCU Catalog - December 2016 
NCU Catalog - December 2016 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Ethical Standards & Practices

Code of Conduct

Northcentral University has established the following Code of Conduct for students. Each student is expected to understand the terms and conditions set forth in this Policy. (See the Team Handbook and Faculty Handbook for the Code of Conduct applicable to team members and faculty.)

Northcentral is committed to maintaining a community with exceptional ethical standards of professional and academic conduct. Substantiated violations may result in disciplinary sanctions, up to and including expulsion from the University.

Community members of the University are expected to conduct themselves professionally, and refrain from acts of misconduct including but not limited to the following six categories:

  • Dishonesty, cheating, plagiarism, misrepresentation or furnishing false information, forgery, or misuse of academic or administrative materials.
  • Harassment, stalking, humiliation, name-calling, the use of insulting or offensive language, cyber-bullying, threatening communications, abuse and intimidation.
  • Conduct, in speech, written communication or behavior, that is disrespectful or unprofessional or racist, sexist, ageist, or that is otherwise prejudicial against a particular community or social group.
  • Disruption or obstruction of the normal operations of the University; including unauthorized use of any of the University’s facilities, informational or material properties, and resources.
  • Conduct that is disorderly, lewd, lascivious, indecent, sexually abusive, or otherwise inappropriate, or that constitutes a breach of the peace; including violation of the University’s policy that prohibits bringing alcohol, recreational drugs, or firearms onto University property or any location during a University-sponsored event.
  • Failure to cooperate during a University investigation.

All members of the University community who become aware of violations of the Code of Conduct have a responsibility to report them to the appropriate authority. For violations of an academic nature, the appropriate authority is the relevant Dean or Provost. For minor violations of an interpersonal nature, the appropriate authority is the relevant Director or member of the Senior Leadership Team. For violations, including any instance of intimidation or sexual harassment, the violation must be reported to the Chief of Human Resources and/or the President.

A member of the University community who is the victim of a sexual assault should immediately notify law enforcement by dialing 911. A team member of the University who, in the course of his or her job responsibilities, suspects the sexual or physical abuse of a child must immediately report the incident to the law enforcement by dialing 911. If an incident of sexual assault occurs at a University location, it must be immediately reported to Human Resources.

Faculty and team members involved in the purported Code of Conduct violation(s) have a responsibility to report such incidents to the appropriate Dean by submitting a completed Suspected Code of Conduct Violation form.

The Dean will review the charges presented thus the ownership of the investigation (including supporting documentation) should fall on the reporting party.

Academic Integrity

Northcentral University is committed to supporting students and faculty in understanding and applying standards of Academic Integrity.  The University is also committed to taking appropriate steps to ensure these standards are met, including:

  • Using an industry-recognized text matching service to screen student assignments; 

  • Requiring all students to complete an Academic Integrity Questionnaire, preferably within 30 days of starting and no later than the end of their first course;

  • Providing materials about Academic Integrity on the Student and Faculty Pages.

Northcentral University considers it a serious violation of Academic Integrity to plagiarize one’s work, even unintentionally. The key to Academic Integrity originates in the writer’s choices on how to divide his or her voice from the voices of others. Intentional plagiarism can be defined as appropriating the words or ideas of someone else and passing them off as your own. Intentional plagiarism can include:

  • Copying entire documents and presenting them as your own;

  • Cutting and pasting from the work of others without properly citing the source;

  • Stringing together quotes and /or ideas of others without connecting their work to your own original work;

  • Asserting ideas without acknowledging their sources, or reproducing verbatim work written by others without properly citing your sources.

Unintentional plagiarism is the accidental appropriation of the work of others due to a lack of understanding of documentation conventions. However, this misuse of sources is still considered a violation of Academic Integrity. Northcentral’s response to such violations may range from requiring a student to rewrite a paper to permanently dismissing a student from the University.

Scope of Policy

The Academic Integrity policy applies to all course assignments submitted by a student to an instructor, including but not limited to:

  • Discussion postings

  • Exams

  • Signature assignments

  • Course papers

  • Comprehensive exams

  • Written assignments using outside source information

  • Dissertation documents (dissertation chapters, concept papers, proposals and final reports).

Use of Text Matching Service

For each course, instructors must process at least one assignment of their choosing through the text matching service Web site.  Instructions on how to use the text matching service are available from the Faculty Page. Some courses may not require coursework that is appropriate for evaluation through the text matching service.  Therefore, the Dean of each School is authorized to grant exceptions to this requirement for these courses or as appropriate. In addition:

  • Every comprehensive exam must be processed through the text matching service;

  • Every dissertation final chapter, Proposal and final dissertation Manuscript must be processed through the text matching service;

  • Instructors may use the text matching service as they deem necessary, reserving the right to process any assignment at any time through the service;

  • A link to instructions for using the text matching service is available on the Faculty Page.

Re-using or Re-purposing Prior Work

All student work must be original and written specifically for the course in which it is assigned.  Presenting one’s previously used work as an original work in subsequent assignments is inconsistent with honesty and truthfulness in scholarship. Submitting the same coursework to multiple courses also violates Academic Integrity unless the resubmitted work is substantially changed and cited as previous work. Northcentral University faculty and students should discuss the expectations of each activity at the beginning of the class. There should be a clear understanding between the faculty member and student regarding the use of prior work in the class. The faculty member must indicate if the student’s response must be an original work or if the student may use prior work in their response to a new activity.

General Exceptions

  • Previously failed courses - A student may submit prior work for the same course when re-taking a course that was previously failed.  Students must notify their professors that they previously failed the course and are re-using prior work.  This exception notwithstanding, refining prior work before submission to best reflect the student’s current scholarly abilities and achieve the best chance for a passing grade on the re-take is always prudent.

  • Research methods courses, dissertation prospectus, and dissertation research - Doctoral research is an ongoing process and these courses represent a continuing sequence where it is expected that students refine their prior work.  Therefore, the submission of prior work is acceptable.  Students must notify their professors that they are continuing their research from a prior course.  This exception notwithstanding, refining prior work before submission to best reflect the student’s current scholarly abilities and take advantage of prior faculty feedback is always prudent.

  • Comprehensive examinations - The comprehensive examination is the student’s opportunity to showcase and demonstrate knowledge already attained.  Therefore, the submission of prior work - from either a previous course or previously failed examination - is acceptable.  Students must notify their professors that they are re-using prior work.  This exception notwithstanding, refining prior work before submission to best reflect the student’s current scholarly abilities is always prudent.

  • Comprehensive portfolios - The comprehensive portfolio is the student’s opportunity to showcase and prove knowledge already attained.  Therefore, the submission of prior work is acceptable.  This exception notwithstanding, students must revise the prior work before submission as part of the portfolio to best reflect the student’s current scholarly abilities and submit both the original and the revised versions.

  • When instructed to do so by the professor or assignment instructions - re-submission of prior work or revised work is permitted.

Acceptable Use of Information Technology

Through the student portal, Northcentral University provides students with access to course rooms, messaging system, Library and other academic resources. The University also provides computer, network, Internet, Intranet, and email access for team members and faculty for performance of their job functions. This access carries certain responsibilities and obligations as to what constitutes acceptable use of the institution’s network. This policy explains how information technology (IT) resources are to be used and specifies what actions are prohibited. No policy can cover every situation, and all users are expected to use common sense when using institutional resources. Questions on what constitutes acceptable use should be directed to the user’s team leader, instructor, or Academic Advisor.

When utilizing University IT resources, all institutional policies are in effect at all times. Any student, team member, or faculty member who abuses the privilege of Northcentral facilitated access to student or faculty portals, e-mail, or the Internet may be denied access to and, if appropriate, be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination or dismissal from the University.


The scope of this policy includes any and all use of institutional IT resources, including but not limited to, the student and faculty portals, computer systems, phones, email, the network, network resources, and University Internet and Intranet connections.

Northcentral recognizes that use of e-mail and the Internet make communication more efficient and effective. However, Internet service and e-mail are valuable, costly resources and their purpose is to facilitate Northcentral business. Irresponsible use reduces their availability for critical business operations, compromises security and network integrity, and leaves Northcentral open to potentially damaging litigation. All use of the Northcentral University IT resources must be in support of business, education, and research consistent with the purposes of Northcentral University. This policy discusses acceptable usage for computers, e-mail, and the Internet.

Fair Use of Copyrighted Material

The Northcentral University Library is committed to compliance with intellectual property law and the preservation of the rights of copyright owners and users of copyrighted materials. The Library strives to inform all its constituencies of the rights and responsibilities under the fair use provisions of the Copyright Act (17 U.S.C. Section 107).

  • Fair use applies to the digital environment without regard to the medium of the original work.
  • Fair use does not supersede licensed resources, unless the terms of controlling agreements specifically defer to U.S. Copyright Act 17 U.S.C. Section 107.
  • Fair use depends on a case-by-case examination of facts surrounding each case, and the four factors identified in U.S. Copyright Act 17 U.S.C. Section 107:
    1. The purpose or character of the use; including whether such use is of a commercial nature or for nonprofit educational purposes
    2. The nature of the copyrighted work used.
    3. The amount and substantiality of the work being used.
    4. The effect of the use on the market for or value of the original work.

The Library works to comply with the Fair Use Guidelines and the U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S. Code) regarding photocopied materials. The copyright law of the United States governs the making of photocopies or other reproductions of copyrighted materials. Under certain conditions specified by the law, libraries and archives are authorized to furnish a photocopy or other reproduction. One of these specified conditions is that the photocopy or reproduction is not to be “used for any purpose other than private study, scholarship or research.” If a user makes a request for, or later uses, a photocopy or reproduction for purposes in excess of “fair use,” that user may be liable for copyright infringement. Northcentral University reserves the right to refuse to accept a copying order if, in its judgment, fulfillment of the order would involve violation of copyright law.

Students should refer to the Acceptable Use of Information Technology policy for additional policies and procedures related to copyright infringement – including Peer-to-Peer (P2P) file sharing – institutional sanctions for student misconduct, and violations and penalties for copyright infringement under federal law.

Institutional Review Board (IRB)

Statement of Principles

Northcentral University (NCU) is committed to ensuring that all research involving human participants follows the ethical principles and requirements as set forth in the Code of Federal Regulations (45 CFR 46), the Belmont Report, and the Nuremberg Code.

Establishment of Institutional Review Board (IRB)

To support these principles, NCU has established an Institutional Review Board (IRB).  The IRB reports to the Associate Dean, Graduate School.  This institutional official will appoint the IRB Director and the IRB Chairperson and ensure sufficient resources and personnel are provided to the IRB in accordance with 45 CFR 46.103(b)(2).

Signatory Official

The signatory official for Northcentral University is the Senior Vice President, Academic Affairs.

Authority of the IRB

All research proposals will be reviewed by the IRB.  The IRB, not the researcher, will determine the necessary type of review (i.e. not human subjects research, Exempt, Expedited, or Full Board).  If a study does not meet the federal definition of human subjects research as outlined in 45 CFR 46.102, the IRB will confirm this designation in writing, and no additional IRB oversight will be required.

The IRB will determine the risk level of a study as minimal risk or greater than minimal risk.  Researchers may provide their own description of perceived risk factors. However, final determination of risk level is made by the IRB.

The IRB has the authority to review and approve, require modifications to, or disapprove all research covered by 45 CFR 46.  In accordance with 45 CFR 46.112, research approved by the IRB may be subject to additional review by officials of the institution.  These officials may approve or disapprove the research after an IRB approval, but they may not approve the research if it was first disapproved by the IRB.

In accordance with 45 CFR 46.113, the IRB shall have the authority to suspend or terminate approval of research that is not conducted in accordance with IRB requirements or that has been associated with unexpected serious harm to subjects.

Institutional Research and Course-Based Projects

The following types of institutional research do not require IRB review: internal research to evaluate institutional programs or determine institutional effectiveness, data collection and analysis for accreditation purposes, and reviews of course or instructor ratings. However, if these data are intended for publication or to contribute to generalizable knowledge, then the study requires IRB review.

All dissertation research must be submitted to the IRB for review.  Students who are working on course projects that are not designed to contribute to generalizable knowledge do not need to submit to the IRB as these projects are not considered research proposals. NCU faculty and staff involved with designing course projects related to research are strongly encouraged to contact the IRB to verify that the projects will not require IRB oversight.

Unsupported Research

The following types of research applications will not be supported or approved by the NCU IRB:

  • Research involving human subjects that is not in accordance with the ethical principles and requirements as set forth in the Code of Federal Regulations (45 CFR 46), the Belmont Report, and the Nuremberg Code.
  • Research consisting of the implementation of behavioral, clinical, or medical interventions designed to alleviate a medical or mental health symptom or illness, if the researcher does not have a clinical license and does not have supervised training in patient care.
    • If a researcher has a clinical license, the proposal can be approved provided   adequate safeguards are in place to protect participants, as determined by the IRB.
    • If a researcher does not have a clinical license but the researcher has completed an adequate number of supervised hours with a relevant clinical population, the proposal can be approved provided safeguards are in place to protect participants.  The IRB may require a licensed clinician to be present on-site or to perform the clinical interactions with participants.
  • Food and Drug /FDA studies (e.g. medical devices, drugs, and food testing)
  • Research conducted with fetuses or neonates
  • Research conducted with minors, of greater than minimal risk, with no potential for direct benefit to the minor
  • Research conducted with pregnant women, if it involves greater than minimal risk or unknown risk to participant or fetus
  • Research involving animals as subjects (NCU does not have an Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee)

Researcher Responsibilities

Researchers are responsible for compliance with this policy.  Primary responsibilities include:

  • All researchers must complete the NCU required Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (CITI) course modules.  These modules review rules, regulations, and the ethical practice of research.  Researchers must ensure that every required and completed module within the course is current (not more than two years old) while any research is conducted at NCU.  The IRB may require additional  CITI modules if relevant to the research topic.
  • Researchers must use the current IRB research application form. Failure to use the appropriate form will result in a return of the application without review.
  • Researchers may not obtain data for purposes of conducting research without IRB review and approval.
  • Researchers may not access identifiable or legally protected information unless the IRB has approved a procedure to obtain appropriate authorization from each participant. Researchers must provide evidence to the IRB that the information will be obtained in compliance with all applicable local, state, and federal laws, policies, and regulations related to privacy and confidentiality of legally protected information.
  • Researchers may not contact potential participants about the research before IRB approval.  For example, researchers may not advertise the study, may not discuss possible “future interest” with participants, and may not ask a third party to perform either of these roles on their behalf.
  • Researchers may not conduct pilot tests without IRB approval.  A pilot test involves data collection from human subjects; therefore it must be approved by the IRB before it begins.
  • Researchers should conduct expert reviews of questions (or “field tests”) before IRB approval. In an expert review or field test, the researcher can ask for feedback on the clarity or applicability of data collection instruments or interview questions, but the researcher cannot ask individuals to complete the instrument or answer interview questions.  If any data will be collected, even if those data will not be used in the final analyses, the study is considered a pilot test, and the IRB must review and approve that research before it begins.
  • Researchers may not perform any procedure, intervention, or data collection for future research purposes and then retrospectively deem those data “archival” and not in need of appropriate safeguards to participants (including consent).
  • Researchers must submit an IRB application if they intend to change or modify an approved application.  The modification request must be approved by the IRB before any changes are implemented in the research.
  • Researchers must contact the IRB to report any injuries, problems, or complaints from participants within 24 hours of occurrence.
  • Researchers must fully disclose dual roles with sites or participants in their research application.  This information is required for adequate risk assessment.
  • When performing research with participants who live outside of the United States, it is the researcher’s responsibility to know and comply with local laws, research regulations, and requirements to obtain approval from the appropriate in-country ethics board.  The IRB may request additional documentation as evidence of adequate compliance.
  • Inclusion of NCU faculty, staff, students, or alumni as research participants may only be approved if the population of interest is NCU itself (not online learning in general), if the focus is on an internal process, if the researcher is NCU faculty or staff, and if an appropriate NCU official has granted written permission. When these criteria are met, the IRB may still require other substantive changes to protect participants.
  • Researchers must submit an IRB application for continuing review of an approved IRB protocol before the expiration date on the NCU IRB approval letter if they intend to continue recruitment and/or data collection beyond the approved expiration date. If the continuing review is not yet approved by the IRB at the time of the approved expiration date, the researcher must confirm in writing that all study procedures have ceased, and all study procedures may not resume until the IRB has completed the continuing review and approved the application for an extension with a new expiration date.
  • Researchers must submit an IRB study closure form as soon as data collection is complete, all participant contact has ceased, and identifiers have been removed or separated from the data set.
  • Student researchers working on their dissertation may not submit an application to the IRB until the final Dissertation Proposal is approved by the committee and Chair.
  • Student researchers must be enrolled in an active dissertation course with NCU while any recruitment, consent, and data collection are in-process.

Additional Responsibilities for Faculty

Faculty who are supervising research must:

  • Be current (completion dates are not more than two years old) in NCU required modules and any elective and supplemental CITI training modules that apply to their own research or research they supervise.
  • Review the student’s IRB application for clarity and accuracy.
  • Emphasize student awareness of and compliance with all aspects of this policy.
  • Review and sign students’ IRB applications and attest to their awareness of their supervisory responsibilities.

IRB Director Responsibilites

The IRB Director will:

  • Ensure the IRB operates in a manner consistent with the statement of principles in section 1 of this policy.
  • Assist the IRB Chair with selection of members to the Full Board.
  • Assist the IRB Chair with operation of the Full Board, including facilitation of meetings when the IRB Chair is not able to be present.
  • Select and supervise IRB reviewers performing minimal risk reviews that are not assigned to the Full Board.
  • Oversee and document the selection of IRB membership that complies with the requirements set forth in 45 CFR 46.103(b)(3) and 45 CFR 46.107.
  • Maintain written Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) in accordance with 45 CFR 46.103(b)(4,5).
  • Maintain, review, and update additional SOPs as needed to optimize the effective function of the IRB and delivery of timely reviews for researchers.
  • Maintain records in accordance with 45 CFR 46.115.
  • Facilitate IRB registration in accordance with 45 CFR 46 Subpart E.
  • Oversee NCU’s Federalwide Assurance documentation, compliance, renewal, updates, and requests for applicable addenda (e.g. Department of Defense).
  •  Appoint IRB reviewers for a term of one calendar year. The appointment is renewed at the discretion of the Director, Institutional Review Board, Associate Dean, Graduate School, the Senior Vice President, Academic Affairs, and the Associate Dean or Department head to whom the reviewer reports.

IRB Chair Responsibilities

The IRB chair is appointed for a term one calendar year. The appointment is renewed at the discretion of the Associate Dean, Graduate School and the Senior Vice President, Academic Affairs.

The IRB Chair will:

  • Schedule and facilitate Full Board meetings.
  • Oversee completion of minutes of Full Board meetings.
  • Collaborate with the IRB Director to communicate Full Board determinations to researchers.
  • Coordinate review of resubmissions to verify conditions are met when the Full Board determination is “approval with conditions.”

Assist with expedited review of minor modifications to studies previously approved by the Full Board in accordance with IRB Standard Operating Procedures.

IRB Member Responsibilities

IRB Members are appointed for terms of one calendar year. Appointments are renewed at the discretion of the IRB Chair and Associate Dean, Graduate School.

In accordance with 45 CFR 46, the IRB members will:

  • Maintain awareness of community attitudes and promote respect for the IRB’s advice and counsel in safeguarding the rights and welfare of human subjects.
  • Possess professional competence in research, except in the case of the non-scientist member(s).
  • Remain knowledgeable about institutional commitments and regulations, applicable laws, and standards of professional conduct and practice.
  • Recuse themselves from initial or continuing review of any project in which there is a conflict of interest, except to provide information as requested by the IRB.
  • Maintain working knowledge of 45 CFR 46 and approve studies only when required items are met.
  •  Be current (completion dates are not more than two years old) in all NCU required, elective, and supplemental CITI training modules and the PRIM&R E-ROC course.
  • Adhere to the Northcentral University Code of Conduct.

Appeals Process

If a researcher believes an IRB requirement is unduly restrictive and will greatly interfere with the feasibility of the research, the researcher should first informally discuss the concern with the IRB Director.  If informal resolution cannot be reached, the researcher should submit a formal appeal letter to the IRB Director.  The formal appeal letter must detail rationale for concerns and support proposed alternatives with reference to applicable university policy and federal regulation (i.e. 45 CFR 46).

Appeals of expedited and exempt reviews will be reviewed and determined by the IRB Chair.  Appeals for Full Board studies will be reviewed and determined by majority vote of the Full Board.  IRB appeal decisions are not subject to further appeal.


Suspected violations of this policy should be communicated to the IRB Director immediately. The IRB Director will determine if a non-compliance investigation is warranted and initiate an investigation and corrective action plan when needed.  Notification of initiation or findings and/or corrective action plan from a non-compliance investigation will be made to the researcher, dissertation committee Chair (when applicable), Associate Dean and/or Associate Director, and Dean, Graduate School.  The IRB Director will notify appropriate institutional officials if made aware of violations of other NCU policies or local, state, or federal laws or regulations.

Corrective actions for IRB noncompliance may include, but are not limited to:

  • Establishment of more frequent continuing reviews of IRB approved research
  • Suspension or termination of IRB approved research
  • Referral for a suspected Code of Conduct violation
  • Restriction of access  to sites or participant groups affected by noncompliance
  • Other appropriate actions as determined by the IRB Director and/or Full Board