Values & Code of Conduct

Illinois Computer Science Values & Code of Conduct

Illinois Computer Science educates students in all aspects of computing, conducts cutting-edge research, and develops novel computing principles and technologies that positively impact the world. In pursuing these ends, we embrace the following common values that guide our decision making and enable our large community to thrive.

  1. We continuously strive for excellence, innovation, and positive impact in all our activities including education, research, and our work in the wider world.
  2. We believe that everyone in our community must have an opportunity to help define, shape, and lead the future of computing. We strive for excellence through our diversity of thought, experience, and identity.  
  3. We expect all members of our community (including faculty, students, staff, alumni, and visitors) to uphold the highest standards of ethical, respectful, and collegial conduct and to be mindful of the impact of their actions on others. We do not tolerate discrimination, harassment, or abuse of power imbalances.

All Members of the CS community should:

  • promote an environment that is intellectually stimulating, fostering free and respectful discussions among individuals holding many and diverse opinions;
  • be supportive, encouraging, and respectful in their interactions with others;
  • act in an ethical, professional, and courteous manner toward students, staff, and faculty;
  • respect the diverse experiences and cultural backgrounds of all members of our community; 
  • take seriously bystander responsibilities to report abusive, unethical and otherwise inappropriate behavior; 
  • take responsibility to complete all required training and to learn the policies and requirements imposed by the department, college and campus that apply to them;
  • strive to maintain a healthy work-life balance, for ourselves and those around us, and be aware of and sensitive to physical and mental health issues that affect others;
  • feel welcome to share concerns with or seek advice from the CS CARES Committee on matters related to this Code.

All Faculty should: 

  • be role models by acting in a professional and courteous manner toward other faculty, students and staff;
  • be cognizant of power imbalances in joint research projects and collaborative work, and act in an ethical, non-coercive, and supportive manner and share credit appropriately;
  • execute their departmental service obligations responsibly.

Research Advisors should:

  • be professional, supportive and inclusive in the management of their research group, conduct of meetings and student interactions;
    be sensitive to and not abuse the power imbalance in the student–advisor relationship;
  • avoid assigning duties or activities that are outside students’ academic/professional responsibilities such as lawn mowing, babysitting, or running errands;
  • respect students’ needs to allocate their time among competing demands such as research, courses, TA duties, and  professional development, while maintaining timely progress toward their degree and a healthy work-life balance;
  • advise students on the selection of a thesis/research topic and assist them in selecting appropriate committees;
  • set clear expectations and goals for students regarding their academic performance and research progress;
  • discuss policies and expectations for work hours, vacation, health and other personal contingencies;
  • meet regularly and often with students to provide feedback on research activities and progress;
  • provide students with training and oversight in all relevant aspects of research, including the design of research projects, the development of necessary skills, and the use of rigorous research techniques;
  • avoid placing pressure on students to produce results that support particular hypotheses;
  • make effective arrangements to provide students with guidance and supervision when planning to be absent for a prolonged period of time (such as sabbaticals, leaves etc);
  • provide and discuss clear criteria for authorship, ideally, at the beginning of all collaborative projects;
  • encourage participation in professional meetings and try to secure funding for such activities;
  • provide career advice, help with interview and application preparation, and write letters of recommendation in a timely manner;
  • ensure students receive training in the skills needed for a successful career, including oral and written communication and grant preparation as appropriate;
  • acknowledge that students can have diverse career interests (both in and outside academia) and assist them in achieving their chosen career goals;
    provide opportunities for independent intellectual development and mentoring by other faculty and researchers;
  • schedule meetings to discuss topics other than research, such as professional development, career objectives and opportunities, climate, laboratory personnel relations, etc;
  • be a role model and maintain high standards in their conduct.  

Instructors should:

  • uphold high standards in all aspects of teaching and course management, including timely feedback and grading of assignments;
  • recognize and respect the diversity in the student population in terms of background knowledge, ability, learning style, and culture;
  • treat course staff and students in the course fairly and respectfully;
  • understand and adhere to the rules and regulations that govern teaching assistantships, graders and course aide appointments including limits on number of hours per week and the scope of work;
  • be cognizant that course staff are often full-time students and avoid routine last-minute workload changes;
  • be aware of potential conflicts of interest and power imbalances when hiring and working with course staff who may also be their research advisees. 

All Students should:

  • recognize that they bear the primary responsibility for the successful completion of their degree and take responsibility for meeting departmental and university deadlines;
  • take an active role in identifying and pursuing professional development opportunities;
    strive to be role models for fellow and future students;
  • be aware of and adhere to the CS Department Honor Code and the University of Illinois Student Code;
  • exercise the highest ethical standards in all aspects of their studies, including on applications for internships, fellowships, graduate studies or jobs;
  • when hired as an assistant for teaching, research, grading or other duties, recognize it as a job with responsibilities and contractual work commitments, and plan their schedule to responsibly fulfill them;
  • be aware that student organizations are an important part of department and campus life and understand that the same ethical and conduct expectations apply to them;
  • feel welcome to share concerns with or seek advice from the CS Advising Office or the CS CARES Committee if they would like guidance on any matter of concern regarding this Code. 

Students, postdocs and staff engaged in research activities should:

  • exercise the highest ethical standards in all aspects of their research (including but not limited to collection, storage, analysis, and communication of research data and results);
  • be proactive about communicating with the advisor and committees, understanding that communication is a two-way endeavor;
    be considerate of other time constraints imposed on faculty and staff, including competing demands;
  • clearly communicate with their advisor(s) regarding their career preferences;
  • be proactive about improving their research skills, including written and oral presentation skills;
  • recognize that conflicts may arise for variety of reasons, and if they do, inform relevant (faculty) advisors, seek help and advice promptly, and work towards their resolution;
  • seek mentoring and support resources beyond their faculty advisor(s), including other faculty members, peers, and organizations;
  • understand that changing research direction and/or advisor is not unusual and be comfortable discussing options with advisor, other faculty, or department advising office;
  • be sensitive towards issues of authorship and credit sharing in collaborative work and maintain open and respectful communication with research advisors and collaborators;
  • be inclusive in the conduct of meetings and informal interactions within their research group and with fellow students.

Students engaged in teaching activities should:

  • complete relevant training offered by the department and campus organizations;
  • recognize and respect the diversity in the student population in terms of background knowledge, ability, learning style, and culture;
  • be aware of rules governing handling of confidential student information, conflicts of interest, and mandated reporter responsibilities and follow them rigorously;
  • be proactive about reporting conflicts of interest, violations of the University of Illinois Student Code, CS Department Honor Code, or academic integrity policies;
  • be aware of potential for biases in interactions and grading;
  • be prompt in completing assigned duties and effectively communicate with instructor and other course staff;
  • treat other course staff and students in the course fairly and respectfully;
  • discuss the parameters of the assigned duties and workload with the instructor and other course staff;
  • strive to be fair in the sharing of duties with other course staff;
  • strive to be a role model for fellow students;
  • feel welcome to seek advice and obtain help from the CS Advising Office or the CS CARES Committee or if they would like additional guidance on any matter of concern regarding this Code

The CS Department will:

  • provide students access to courses and appropriate infrastructure to allow them to complete their education in a timely and productive manner;
    maintain timely communications and provide students with up-to-date information that includes policies, practices, degree requirements, and resources;
  • monitor student progress toward their degrees and professional development, including mentoring meetings, committee meetings, exam completions, and other benchmarks appropriate to their degree;
  • recognize that students have a diversity of career goals and provide opportunities for professional development leading towards their success;
    assist students interested in research with the identification of research opportunities and the selection of research areas and advisors;
  • provide and monitor training for students, faculty and staff related to the ethical conduct of teaching, research and other university activities and matters related to diversity, equity and inclusion such as implicit bias, microaggressions, racism, bullying, bystander responsibilities, and sexual harassment;
  • establish and communicate policies for emergencies and unplanned situations that may disrupt the work of students, faculty, and staff;
    incorporate these guidelines and recommendations into departmental policies and practices, actively promote their observance, and provide support to assist faculty, students and staff in satisfying them;
  • Maintain and support the independent operation of the CS CARES committee to provide CS students, faculty and staff a resource for confidential consultation about matters of concern to them related to this Code.


This document includes ideas and text from the Penn State Eberly College of Science Guidelines for Advisor-Graduate Student Interactions