deliberations. It also sets out its major recommendations for University procedures and the reasons for adopting them.
The first task of this committee was to define academic fraud. In the abstract the definition seems easy, even if the identification of fraud in individual cases is not. The definition of fraud distinguishes between an honest mistake and deliberate misstatement made with an intention to deceive others. Academic fraud involves a deliberate effort to deceive and includes plagiarism, fabrication of data, misrepresentation of historical sources, tampering with evidence, selective suppression of unwanted or unacceptable results, and theft of ideas.
Some cases of academic fraud are easy to detect and prove. For example, the discrepancies between the published work and the records, notes, or data on which it is said to rest may be so great that intentional misrepresentation is the only possible inference. In other cases the inference is more difficult to draw. Some errors are unavoidable in any research; others may be the result of negligence, but not fraud. Whether research techniques were very sloppy or deliberately misleading sometimes raises difficult issues of fact and judgment. Making the appropriate judgment about research techniques requires sophistication about both the subject matter and the research and the research methods of the work under review. Finally, charges of the theft of scholarly ideas are hard to verify because ideas are often "in the air." Cases of simultaneous discovery are common in science.
Nonetheless, the distinction between fraud and negligence must be observed. The Committee on Academic Fraud has a limited mission. It is not a committee for the correction of poor scholarship, as the merits of scholarly work are best assessed in the ordinary academic marketplace. Yet once a question of fraud exists, it must be investigated under established procedures. Should it become clear that fraud is not involved, then the investigation should cease, regardless of the degree of carelessness found in the work under scrutiny.
On the model of the present biomedical procedures, the committee recommends that a Standing Committee on Academic Fraud be formed