Academic Integrity and Ethics

Academic Integrity and Ethics

The debate around academic integrity has kept stretching for long. Now-a-days there are software like turn it in which can easily detect plagiarism. However, the real issue is not to find out plagiarism but to encourage students to produce original work. The real question behind plagiarism is that of creativity and productivity. Generally, plagiarism is taken as a sign of irresponsibility or a lack of ethics. Academic integrity is important for creativity and performance. Its lack can also be an indication of lack of talent or motivation. Originality on the other hand, implies creativity and performance. However, both professors and students need to understand the meaning and value of academic integrity.  Academic integrity is integral to learning and growth. For the students that they learn in the real terms, it is important that they value academic integrity.

Most colleges have to deal with the challenge and there approach varies. However, most of them are strict regarding plagiarism and treat it as a crime. The punishment upon being caught can be anything from a simple failing grade to being suspended for the class for a semester. Institutions have also adopted moral codes in an attempt to prevent plagiarism by treating it as a moral issue. This is considered to be the most creative approach that the colleges have taken.  Colleges believe it encourages the students to take an ethical approach and be honest in their performance. Academic integrity can also be considered an issue of personal ethics. Personally, it is our own choice that whether we lie and cheat or take the right and ethical approach.


The issue however, is not limited entirely to personal ethics. It also involves social responsibility. Stealing others’ work and presenting it as their own is not ethical or responsible on the part of the students. While there can be several causes behind it, the most common reason is deadline. It is generally because of tight deadlines that students copy from other sources. Other reasons also exist. Sometimes, it is because of competition and sometimes just lack of will or focus. Even workload can be a reason. The lure of rewards is another important factor that makes students’ resort to plagiarism. It is not just the students who are tempted by the rewards of a great academic performance. There have been cases where even scholars have tried to present others’ works as theirs. So, plagiarism is basically a complicated issue and there may not be an easy resolution for it. Turn it in has helped to some extent. The fear of getting caught and having to bear the punishment makes most students adopt the right approach. However, Turn It In does not foster creativity. It is merely a tool to find out plagiarized parts of an answer. While a large number of students may feel inclined to follow the regulations, the others might still tend to disregard it. many times students do not copy intentionally. Still, the repercussions are going to be the same. The traditional methods that have been being adopted by the college administration have generally failed because of several reasons. Students generally might not have a very clear sense of academic integrity. Their focus tends to shift towards achievement or success and the other things either go ignored or become secondary. They do not seem to be motivated to produce original work of their own. It might be an indication that a different approach needs to be taken.


Another major trouble is related to citation. Citation is a complex process requiring lots of attention and focus. While the professors would insist on citing any borrowed work correctly, the students find the process very complex or difficult. Citing all the authors and sources correctly becomes a  major task which takes nearly as much efforts as the rest research paper. Any work that is not properly cited is considered plagiarized. Further the problem gets aggravated because of the system of punishment. The problem is that the approach of punishment tries to instill fear into the hearts of students. Whenever this approach is adopted, it gives birth to new problems. Instead of feeling inspired to produce original work, the students feel like being pressed to do so. The problem is that  these tactics generate the reverse of creativity. There might be a need to adopt a more practical approach and that can be done after understanding the students’ concern. The students are already under pressure to achieve higher GPAs. They feel all the more burdened whenever their ethics are questioned.  Constructive approaches in this regard can be effective. Rather than punishing students over plagiarism and likening it to deception or cheating, colleges must focus on motivating students and reducing the pressure on them. This will tend to increase their focus and thus foster creativity. However, the students are also required to understand their responsibility. They should also mind how plagiarism can be avoided. They should understand the disadvantages of plagiarism and the difficulties that  are born of it. Plagiarism generally takes place in the following cases:


  • Substantial copying without giving the original author its proper credit.
  • Copying from different resources fraudulently.
  • Copying with the intention to fool the reader.
  • Copying can have negative repercussions for the reader as well as the original author.

Plagiarism is against ethics. However, persuading the students to not to plagiarize might be a difficult task. College administrations should take a constructive approach in this regard and engage students in a creative discussion over the ills of plagiarism and how to avoid it. Most important thing is to help them with the research process and show them how ethical research free of plagiarism will add value to their career in both academic and professional life.



Written by Abhijeet Pratap

Abhijeet has been blogging on educational topics and business research since 2016. He graduated with a Hons. in English literature from BRABU and an MBA from the Asia-Pacific Institute of Management, New Delhi. He likes to blog and share his knowledge and research in business management, marketing, literature and other areas with his readers.

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