Integrity is significant in an academic environment. Academic integrity is an essential value on which colleges and universities are built. Honest opinions, assessments of research, and other academic exercises are expected of the students and faculty. These are all vital to sustaining the discussing and exchanging of ideas. It is these conversations that stimulate intellectual growth and development in an academic community. For learning to really flourish, academic communities can not tolerate acts of academic dishonestly such as plagiarism. Plagiarism is happening all too often and people need to understand it better because plagiarism is often not done with intent. Many people do not know what plagiarizing is all about. When someone is not given credit for the work that they have done that is a problem. What is Plagiarism?
According to Merriam –Webster (2008), Plagiarism is the act of stealing and passing off the ideas or words of another as one's own or using another's work without crediting the source. Plagiarism is a serious act of academic dishonesty. Plagiarism can take many different forms. Plagiarism is copying another person's work or ideas. This includes copying from other students and from published or unpublished material such as books, internet sources, paper mills, computer code, and designs. It is submitting previously submitted or assessed work of your own or submitting work solicited from or written by others. Plagiarism is also failing to adequately cite and reference sources. Culture of Integrity
The blame of plagiarism and the integrity of students whether it be middle or high school students and even college students seems to be all over the board. Some studies blame the students because they should know better. Other studies blame the parents for pushing their children too much to achieve the grades that they expect. There are also parents that are not being the best role models for their children. Some studies even blame teachers for their teaching practices and lack of follow through and discipline.
According to a study done in 2005 by The Center for Academic Integrity, plagiarism is on the rise. Out of the nearly 50,000 undergraduates that were questioned, 40 percent have plagiarized from the Net. This is up 10 percent from 1999. What was more surprising is that 77 percent did not see plagiarism and a serious issue (Badke, 2007).
There are some that do not even realize they are plagiarizing due to careless mistakes. Other students think that the risk of getting caught is worth the benefit. Some students feel that they lack the skills to perform and complete their own research projects. There are even some students that feel their critical thinking skills are not up to the standard. Many students view the internet as a place where information is easily accessible and feel they can use the information as they see fit. “The World Wide Web looks like a candy store without a checkout clerk,” (Badke, 2007 p11). Just because this information is easily accessed it does not give anyone permission to say it is their own work. Another poll that was conducted about cheating explained that students would cheat for the following reasons: they need good grades to get into college; they do not have enough time to do their work; everyone else is cheating; or the course is not important to the student, (Strom & Strom, 2007). Of the students that were polled, 80 percent of them admitted to cheating on tests. Of the parents that were polled, 63 percent felt their child would not cheat no matter the situation, (Strom & Strom, 2007). Many teachers are even afraid to hold children accountable for their actions due to parents. “Seventy percent of educators agree that concern about parent reaction discourages them from identifying and punishing cheaters,” (Strom & Strom, 2007 p7).
Some fear that technology has complicated the matter of plagiarism and cheating. Others feel the problem is not technology, it is human, (Berger, 2007). Students lack the training and ethics when it comes to searching the internet. “Students take academic honest more seriously when they see their teacher make an effort to ensure fair and honest conditions for assessment,” (Strom & Strom, 2007 p17). Policy
Most institutions place high importance on the principles of academic integrity. Policy is one of those principles that are usually developed by chief academic officers. The purpose of an academic policy is to establish the importance of integrity and honesty. It is important that institutions reinforce policy to ensure the integrity of the school. Dishonesty is acknowledged as misconduct and institutions impose serious measures on those who act in that way. There are three major categories of academic dishonesty: cheating, plagiarism, and academic fraud or obtaining grades under false pretenses. Cheating is Plagiarism is the act of presenting another’s work as one’s own. Academic fraud is making false accusations to gain an unjust advantage. If one violates an institution’s academic integrity, there are consequences and penalties that the institutional board will adhere to. There has to be criteria that establish the level of penalty. Some criteria based on policy are: knowing the nature and extent of dishonesty and the student’s level and knowledge of academic regulations. There has to be sanctions for students found responsible for violations of academic integrity. Institutions that have proposed reforms of academic integrity policy can ensure the decrease in the number of academic dishonesty cases. There has also been some indication of implementing electronic tracking of a student’s history of academic dishonesty. The purpose of this system would be to implement fair punishment by determining the level of academic dishonesty the individual possesses. For example, questions that can help determine the level of punishment would be if a person is a first time offender or this action is part of a pattern. Every student is accountable to the policies and regulations set forth by an institution. Policies help maintain the conduct that credits the students and the institution in order to uphold a standard. Policies affect all members of an institution because they are the joint responsibility of the students and faculty. The freedom of teaching and learning is dependent upon an individual’s decision to conduct themselves within the guidelines of an institution. 1The faculty is responsible for creating an atmosphere that will offer the students the opportunity to display their knowledge, and orderly testing rooms and sufficient safeguards to inhibit dishonesty. (“Student Conduct Information”, 1998) Students have the responsibility of being confident and relying on their knowledge and resources in the evaluation processes. This will in turn, eliminate the urge to engage in dishonest actions. A faculty member who suspects a student of academic dishonesty should communicate the charge with the student, in writing within so many days. There are procedures that take place when the accusations are made to allow the student to appeal the sanction or admit guilt. The procedures are designed to encourage a fair and appropriate response to allegations of academic dishonesty. Most appeals will require hearings before an Academic Integrity Board. The board usually determines the sanctions based on background information about the student’s conduct and the account of what happened. Ethical behavior is the primary focus of an academic institution. Academic dishonesty interferes with the mission of education, accumulation of knowledge, and by allowing students to get by without mastering the knowledge of the content. Policies are the basis for a program of action adopted by the principles of which an institution stands upon. Punishment for Plagiarizing
Many students, writers, parents etc… know that plagiarizing is wrong but many people do not know what the punishment could end up being. If you are a student either in high school or college there are going to be repercussions for cheating. In high school they more than likely are not going to be as harsh as they are in college but plagiarizing in either level of school is wrong. In high school if you get caught plagiarizing you will end up getting a zero on that assignment and more than likely you are going to have to retake the course the following year. In college you will receive an incomplete and you will not only have to make up the work you may have to give an apology to the school or write a report on plagiarizing (Demirjian, 2006). Preventing Plagiarism
Universities and other academic institutions have been trying to combat plagiarism for years. Plagiarism and academic dishonesty has become a bigger problem with each new technological advance. The internet allows so much information on any given topic to be accessed at the click of a mouse. “If tech[nology] makes it easier to cheat then it should make it easier to catch (Clark,2008).” Many academic institutions have now turned to anti-plagiarism software, such as Turtin.com and Safe Assign. These companies as well as others have built up databases of millions of written work to compare student papers to. Many students even need to turn all assignments in via the internet so they can be checked by anti-plagiarism software. Teachers can then go online and see how much of their students assignments match previously written work.(Clark,2008) This software can be a great tool for students when they are allowed to view the results and make necessary changes. It would help lessen the amount of unintentional plagiarism that comes with forgetting citations. This software also saves teachers valuable time when they do not have to look up sources when there is suspected plagiarism.
Some academic institutions feel that by using anti-plagiarism software, they are saying that they do not trust their students. Many schools try to appeal to the students honor and integrity by instilling honor codes. (Wasley, 2008) Student honor codes are pledges. Students pledge not to cheat, lie or plagiarize. Students are required to sign the honor codes and agree to them when starting school. Students who do not adhere to the honor code can be met with stiff punishments like failing classes or expulsion. Student honor codes are often printed on exam books and on plagues in every classroom.
Some academic institutions apply both anti-plagiarism soft ware and an honor code calling it a modified honor code. These schools believe in trusting the students to make good choices but want students to know that they can verify their honesty if needed.(Wasley, 2008)
Another way academic instructors have been combating plagiarism is by changing the assignments are given. Many teachers are breaking up assignments and have students turn in many of the prewriting activities. This way they can monitor their progress. A lot of assignments are being incorporated in to class activities and discussions. This gives the teacher an opportunity to see who is doing the work and who is not. And it gives students more incentive to keep up with the work so they can participate in class. Teachers are also giving students some required source materials when assigning papers. This gives the teachers the advantage because they are familiar with that source material and can tell easier if their might be any plagiarism. Students will also tend not to plagiarize if they know their teacher is familiar with their sources. Some professors are creating more real world assignments that are much harder to fabricate.(4,2004) Teachers are also developing tests and assignments that encourage more original and critical thinking so that students will be more actively involved in learning. Teachers are teaching students how to properly cite work. They are addressing the rules to paraphrasing and summarizing and trying to make student more aware of what plagiarism is. Teachers want to eliminate plagiarism due to ignorance and take a stand against plagiarism of any kind. (Atkinson & Yeoh, 2008) Conclusion
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