The following information on the importance of academic integrity is available:

What is academic integrity?

The Center for Academic Integrity commissioned a Fundamental Values Project.

Their findings state that academic integrity is a commitment, even in the face of adversity, to five fundamental values:

  • honesty
  • trust
  • fairness
  • respect
  • responsibility.

From these values flow principles of behaviour that enable academic communities to translate ideals into action.

Honesty

An academic community of integrity advances the quest for truth and knowledge by requiring intellectual and personal honesty in learning, teaching, research and service.

  • How do faculty and administrators demonstrate honesty and integrity on your campus?
  • What effect do their examples have on student behaviour?

Trust

An academic community of integrity fosters a climate of mutual trust, encourages the free exchange of ideas, and enables all to reach their highest potential.

  • What is the general climate of trust that exists on your campus?
  • What specific behaviours indicate the presence or absence of trust?

Fairness

An academic community of integrity establishes clear standards, practices and procedures and expects fairness in the interactions of students, faculty and administrators.

  • Are students on your campus treated fairly?
  • What specific behaviours indicate the presence or absence of fairness?
  • In what settings are issues of fairness discussed?

Respect

An academic community of integrity recognises the participatory nature of the learning process, and honours and respects a wide range of opinions and ideas.

  • Do students, faculty and administrators demonstrate respect for one another on your campus?
  • In what ways?

Responsibility

An academic community of integrity upholds personal accountability and depends upon action in the face of wrongdoing.

  • On your campus, do students understand their responsibility for honest academic work?
  • How do you know?
  • Is there a shared understanding of students' responsibility to take action in the face of misconduct by others?
  • How do you know? (21).

Why is academic integrity important?

In an academic context we show respect for other people’s work and demonstrate our professionalism by being honest, trustworthy and acting with fairness, respect and responsibility (20).

There are various behaviours that compromise academic integrity. These include:

  • plagiarism
  • collusion
  • other forms of cheating.

Plagiarism

‘Plagiarism is passing off someone else’s work, whether intentionally or unintentionally, as your own for your own benefit’ (1). Plagiarism through lack of, or incorrect, referencing is one area which poses students a great deal of problems.

Collusion

Collusion is presenting work as if it has been done independently when it has been the result of unauthorised collaboration.

Example:

David and Jane were discovered with the same marks and they both took only 20 seconds to do the same quiz.

Other forms of cheating

  • Copying or allowing your work to be copied.

Example:

Bree felt sorry for Tam who had missed a class through illness, and allowed him to use her lab results for his assignment.

  • Purchasing or obtaining essays, tutorial, test or exam answers.

Examples:

Sam paid for answers for the weekly quiz held in his tutorial on Tuesdays from Pierre who took the quiz on Mondays.

Mary studied a topic the year after her friend Kay. Mary asked Kay to give her an essay she had done. She changed only a sentence or two and submitted it as if it was her own.

  • Taking unauthorised material into an exam, taking an exam for another student or having another student take it in your place.

Example:

Kai had gone terribly at his last exam and panicked that he wouldn't cope in the next so he asked his brother to sit the exam for him.

  • Making up references or data, or giving secondary sources as if they were primary ones.

Example:

Helen's assessment of a patient did not go at all to plan and she felt she had inadequate material for her case study, so she fabricated details.

Simon worked extra shifts at his part time job and felt he didn't have time to look up the original data for a report so he used material from a secondary source that had written about the study but referenced it as if it had come from the primary source.

  • Deliberately hiding library books or articles, or cutting out pages or deleting text.

Example:

Sue didn't think anyone would notice if she cut one article from a journal that was on reserve.

Josh wanted to make sure that no one else in his course had access to case notes which had helped him answer an assignment so he hid the book in another part of the library racks.

  • Lying about medical or other circumstances to get extensions or special consideration.

Example:

Yoko asked for an extension on compassionate grounds that her grandfather had died when what she was really doing was taking a trip on the Great Barrier Reef.

The chain of knowledge

One way to promote academic integrity to students is to introduce them to the idea of 'the chain of knowledge'. The ideas that the students use in writing their papers may have had their origins hundreds of years ago. Eg a student could be using the ideas of Plato or Aristotle, through to Aquinas, Rousseau, Nietzsche and so on, through to the ideas of Foucault.

Another aspect of this notion is that if you propose an idea and write it down, people can and will dismiss it easily as unsubstantiated opinion. However, if you propose an idea and back it up with ideas and discoveries made by Newton or Einstein, then the argument carries more weight and needs to be considered much more carefully.

This 'chain of knowledge' also saves students time. During their education there isn't time for them to rethink every thought that has ever been had. They need to base their learning on established knowledge in order to acquire their education, and to progress and research into new areas.