Academic integrity refers moral code or ethical policy of academics. It forms the core set of values and principles that underwrite the mission of any academic institution. They entail integrity, avoidance of plagiarism or cheating, maintenance of academic standards, honesty, hard work, and the determination to translate personal and professional principles into behavior (Bertram, 2008). Behaviors that violate an institution’s code of conduct violate its academic integrity. This article discusses the several fundamentals of academic integrity, specific types of plagiarism or dishonest concerning integrity and the methods to avoid this dishonesty. It will also discuss personal incident involving academic integrity.
According to the Center of Academic Integrity, it is academic integrity involves the following five fundamental values. The first one is honesty. It begins with on...
e self and extends to others. Students should be honest with themselves and with each other in the quest of knowledge regardless whether in the classroom, play field and laboratory (Landau, Druen & Arcuri, 2012). When honesty is cultivated, foundations for long life integrity are laid which develops courage and insight to make difficult choices and take responsibility for their consequences and actions. The second one is trust. Only with trust is when we can believe on the work of others and move forward with new work. With trust also people can collaborate with each other, share ideas and information without the fear your work can be stolen by someone else.
The third one is fairness. This is essential in the educational process. Everyone has a right to expect fair treatment from their colleagues not only to the students but also to the faculty members. The fourth one is Respect. Students should
respect themselves and each other and to their professors. They should not be rude, demeaning or disruptive. They should also respect the work of others through acknowledgement of their intellectual debts by proper identification of their sources. The last one is responsibility. Every member of an institution should be responsible for upholding the integrity of scholarship and research. This means taking action against wrong doing. Through shared responsibility, power to effect change is distributed, apathy is overcome, and personal investment in upholding the academic integrity standards is stimulated. When the members are committed to the above values of integrity, the academic community flourishes (McCabe & Pavela, 2014). Another advantage of this is that academic integrity policies promote learning processes and pursuit of truth which help create a strong civic culture for the society as a whole.
Specific Types of Plagiarism or Dishonesty
Plagiarism can be defined as the act of taking one’s ideas and passing it off as your own or using someone’s exact words without proper citation. This is a common offence under the academic code of conduct. It is a kind of cheating of stealing, of being dishonest. Plagiarism can be either intentional or unintentional. Unintentional plagiarism includes quoting poorly whereby one can quote a part of the citation but not all of it, paraphrasing poorly whereby one changes only a few words of the sentence but not the structure and citing poorly through omitting certain citation (McCabe & Pavela, 2014). Intentional plagiarism occurs when; one borrows words or ideas from others of from sources without giving credit, cut and paste from different sources without quoting and passing off one’s pre-written papers from sources or
the internet. However, there are several types of plagiarism.
The first one is the plagiarism of words whereby one uses the exact words without citing the author. The second one is plagiarism of structure. This occurs when someone paraphrases one’s work with only changing the construction of the sentence. One can also paraphrase with maintenance of the original construction of the sentence and acknowledgement of the source. The third type is the plagiarism of authorship. This occurs when you turn in a replication of someone’s work or when you submit a paper gotten from the internet or a friend and presenting it as your own. The fourth type is plagiarism of ideas where you present someone’s ideas without giving credit to the person or without citing (McCabe & Pavela, 2014). The last one is plagiarism of self which involves the use of a previous work for a separate assignment. This is considered as cheating because despite the fact that there are your ideas, you should not receive credit for the previous assignment.
Methods to Avoid Academic Dishonesty
Dishonesty and plagiarism has penalties. It does not matter whether it is intentional or not, they both have consequences. For instance, one can either be awarded a zero if it was an assignment, fail the course, be suspended or even expelled (Whitley & Keith-Spiegel, 2012). For that reason, it is necessary to try and avoid any type of plagiarism where possible. The following are some points on how one can prevent plagiarism, if one is developing a topic based on a previously written material, they should write something new and original and you can rely on opinions of experts on a
certain topic but try to improve on them. Others are while making your own contribution, you should give credit to researchers, and the standards of documentation methods such as APA and MLA can be followed (Whitley & Keith-Spiegel, 2012). You can always assume that you are expected to complete any work given to you independently. You should also understand the difference between plagiarism and paraphrasing. One should always test and evaluate themselves and to learn more and get used to doing their own work. Lastly, with the academic code in your mind, chances of cheating are minimal.
Personal Incident Regarding Academic Integrity
One of the core values of every higher learning institution is to ensure there is academic integrity and excellence. Students have to adhere to the set rules of ensuring there is no academic dishonest in their studies. Universities take it as a serious offence where a student tries to earn academic credit through dishonest (Whitley & Keith-Spiegel, 2012). In this case I was once involved in an academic offence by plagiarizing my assignment. During my first days in university, I had developed a weird behavior of copy pasting assignments. One day our professor gave us an assignment of about ten pages on business plan. One of the instructions was to observe academic integrity by avoiding plagiarism. However, as I was doing my assignment I copied some author’s texts without giving credit to them. In these texts, there were quotations to make my work more accurate and professional. In addition to that, most of the content in the paper was paraphrased from other authors work. My aim was to get high grade by presenting quality and
accurate work because my professor emphasized on delivering quality paper.
Once I finished my paper, I proofread to ensure there were no grammatical errors. However, I did not bother putting citations to give credit to the authors I used their work. I was not aware that was a form of academic dishonest. I just assumed that was paraphrasing and not copy pasting their work. I submitted my work through drop box as we had instructed. A few days after submitting my paper my professor demanded I meet him in his office. Once I arrived in his office, he presented me with plagiarism report on my work. I was surprised that the report revealed that 80% of the paper was plagiarized. The quotations and paraphrasing was the source of the plagiarism. My lecturer was very harsh on me claiming that I had committed one of the biggest academic offences in the University. He empathized on the caution he gave us in class. As result, I was to face the penalty and I was awarded zero in the course.
To defend myself I claimed that I was not aware of such academic offence. However, in his explanation, he claimed that it is the responsibility of students to learn what constitutes academic dishonesty. He also claimed that it is his mandate to confront any student involved in academic offence. After debating for few minutes, he presented me with a paper containing academic offences and the exact penalty for each offence. My academic offence was plagiarism and the penalty was to award zero to the student involved the in the offence. I was very disappointed because what I tried to get
a higher grade resulted to a zero. However, my professor assured me that the offence would not be recorded in my transcripts but instead it will be kept for internal purposes. He told me once I paraphrase and put quotations in my work I have to acknowledge the author of the work to avoid plagiarism. This because you cannot present another authors work as yours.
How and Why My Behavior is Problematic
To make matters worse this was not the first time I was confronted because of academic offence. I was once suspended because of copying my classmates work during exam. This time round I escaped heavy punishment because I was still awarded my marks. In addition, I was also caught with similarity offence in other assignments. However, after the last incident when I was a warded zero, I learnt that my behavior was becoming problematic in my studies. This is because it was costing me a lot by being suspended, being cautioned, and being awarded zero in my course. In addition, this behavior made me fail in some courses. I had failed in many courses because of academic offences. I had to think and come up with a solution to avoid this behavior because it was proving to be detrimental to my success.
How I Will Personally Do in the Future to Avoid Similar Incidents
Personally, I decided I would avoid any academic irregularity especially plagiarism because it proved to be costly in my studies. After careful analysis of my behavior, I decided on several measures to avoid academic offences in future. The first one was employing the best principles of good academic practice (Landau, 2012). This would
involve acknowledging authors once I used their work. In addition, I would put enough citations in my work in case I paraphrased some work. The second measure was to avoid laziness. One of the problems I discovered was laziness. My behavior was highly contributed by the desire not to work hard. I was not willing to work hard like my fellow classmates and that is the reason I was always looking for short cuts in my studies. In future, I would resist this feeling and follow all the instructions in my work. The third measure was to use my own words in doing assignments. This would involve employing my academic skills in assignments to make them as good as the other authors work without need of using their words. In addition, I would avoid using their ideas to avoid plagiarism. My last measure was to have enough preparation for exams in order to avoid copying from my classmates because continuous irregularity would lead to expulsion from the institution. I believe the above measures would help me ensure academic integrity in my studies.
From the above explanation, it is clear that as long as you work hard to succeed in studies you have to observe academic integrity. This will only be achieved by avoiding academic offences like plagiarism. In case you use another author’s work, it is good to acknowledge the author. Failure to so you will have committed academic offence. As result, you will be liable to academic penalty. Penalty can involve reduction of marks or even getting a zero in your course. The above article has clearly discussed academic integrity involving plagiarism, types of plagiarism
and methods of avoiding plagiarism. In addition, the article has given an incident where I was involved in academic offence.
- Bertram, G. T., In Ward, K., In Wolf-Wendel, L. E., & Association for the Study of Higher Education. (2008). Academic integrity in the 21st century: A teaching and learning imperative. San Francisco, Calif: Jossey-Bass.
- Landau, J. D., Druen, P. B., & Arcuri, J. A. (2012). Methods for helping students avoid plagiarism. Teaching of Psychology, 29(2), 112-115.
- McCabe, D. L., & Pavela, G. (2014). Ten (updated) principles of academic integrity: How faculty can foster student honesty. Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning, 36(3), 10-15.
- Whitley, B. E., & Keith-Spiegel, P. (2012). Academic dishonesty: An educator's guide. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
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