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Strategies for Discouraging the Falsification of Data

  • Put less emphasis on the importance of obtaining “correct” results and more on a student’s ability to interpret and understand whatever results they obtain. Emphasize that students will not be penalized by presenting aberrant data if the data are properly reported and a careful discussion of the results is included.

  • Give marks for following procedures and carefully recording results, not just for getting “good” results.

  • Have students obtain the TA’s signature on all pages of their original lab notes and data, and submit those notes with their lab report. TAs, in turn, should keep careful records of attendance and of whose lab notes they have signed.

  • Have students write all of their observations in a hard-cover laboratory book with numbered pages. TAs can then initial the relevant pages and make note of the page numbers, in case they see something suspicious when marking. Lab books would have to be submitted with lab reports.

  • In courses where the integrity of the primary data is of great importance, lab books are available that create carbon copies of each page. The carbon copy may then be ripped out and handed to the TA before the student leaves the class.