January 4, 2021

Academic Integrity And How To Safeguard It Effectively

What is Academic Integrity?

According to The International Center for Academic Integrity (ICAI), academic integrity is “a commitment, even in the face of adversity, to six fundamental values: honesty, trust, fairness, respect, responsibility, and courage.”[i]

Australia’s Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA) defines it as, “the expectation that teachers, students, researchers and all members of the academic community act with: honesty, trust, fairness, respect and responsibility”. [ii]

What you can do at your own institution to safeguard Academic Integrity?

At Ouriginal, we want to help foster an environment in which fairness sparks personal development and enables people to strengthen their original voice. Part of that is to provide a solution that supports academic integrity such as our plagiarism prevention software. Additionally, there are multiple ways you as teachers can contribute to protecting academic integrity at your institution.

Step one: Lay the groundwork

Confirm your official practices and standards and evaluate whether they are effectively implemented and followed. List what works, what needs to be improved and what is missing. The European Network for Academic Integrity (ENAI) has an amazing list of self-assessment tools for institutions which is a great exercise in evaluating where you stand.

Step two: Understand your students

Once you have assessed how academic integrity is followed at your institution, the next step is to understand and listen to your students. A lot of research points out that students cheat when they do not feel academic integrity is taken seriously or that it can have serious consequences.

As studied by a group of researchers from TEQSA, there are many controllable reasons as to why students plagiarize and cheat:

  • Lack of understanding (Curtis & Vardanega 2016)
  • Perceived seriousness (Curtis & Popal 2011)
  • Perceived norms (Curtis et al. 2018; McCabe & Trevino 1993)
  • Lack of language proficiency (Bretag et al. 2018)
  • Poor time management and procrastination (Siaputra 2013; Wallace & Newton 2014)
  • Opportunities (Baird & Clare 2017; Bretag et al. 2018)
  • Lack of institutional support for academic integrity (Husain et al. 2017)
  • Student perception of staff apathy, knowledge and dedication (Husain et al. 2017)
  • No fear of detection and consequences (Deikhoff et al. 1999)
  • Student dissatisfaction with L&T environment (Bretag et al 2018; Park 2003)
  • Pressures and life complexity (Brimble 2016)

However, according to the same research group, some students cheat and plagiarize due to psychological reasons including:

  • Low conscientiousness (Siaputra 2013)
  • Anxiety (Tindall & Curtis in press)
  • Low self-control (Curtis et al. 2018)
  • Competitive mindset (Barbaranelli et al. 2018)
  • Impulsivity (Moss et al. 2018)
  • Low confidence (Moss et al. 2018)
  • Poor resilience (Moss et al. 2018)

Step three: Support your students

A lot of these issues can be addressed by the faculty if made aware. Create a focus group, and discuss these points to discover which ones apply, which ones are working well, and which should be improved. Do you offer psychological support at your institution? Is there anyone students can talk to when experiencing anxiety or stress? If students feel valued, they most certainly will value your institution too and give back by studying hard. 

Step four: Take action

A great way to enhance the understanding of academic integrity is by organizing events that focus on it. Some universities even have an entire academic integrity week where students pride themselves (rightly so) for their efforts and academic honesty.

When students have more clarity on what academic integrity actually means and how to preserve it, they will be less vulnerable to malpractices and not easily swayed by the shortcuts available.

Additional resources:

[i] Source: https://www.academicintegrity.org/fundamental-values

[ii] Source: https://www.teqsa.gov.au/defining-academic-integrity

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