Evidence of a rise in academic dishonesty in university-level study has been a topic of discussion not only in the media but also among senior academics. The easy use of web resources, the electronic preparation of assignments, and students being inadequately prepared for their university study are all areas of concern. This resource has been developed for staff to assist in educating students about academic misconduct and developing their ability to achieve and maintain academic integrity.
Recent research involving six Victorian universities determined that 8.28% of all papers submitted contained non-attributed copied material (CAVAL 2002). Although these numbers may appear low, in a recent survey of students studying in the Schools of Business, Information Technology and Psychology at Swinburne and Monash Universities, more than 50% of postgraduate students and 80% of undergraduate students admitted to cheating (The Age 2003).
The problem is not isolated to Australian universities. In an American survey conducted by Donald McCabe (founder of the Centre for Academic Integrity), of 2,100 students on 21 campuses, about one-third admitted to serious test cheating and half admitted to one or more instances of serious cheating on written assignments.
The way forward
Universities and academic staff need to focus their efforts to address and reduce the opportunities for students to plagiarise and cheat. The Centre for Study for Higher Education (2002) suggests that this can be done through the introduction of and commitment to four strategies, all of which are underpinned by the central principle of ensuring fairness:
- A collaborative effort to recognise and counter plagiarism at every level from policy, through faculty/division and school/department procedures, to individual staff practices;
- Thoroughly educating students about the expected conventions for authorship and the appropriate use and acknowledgment of all forms of intellectual material;
- Designing approaches to assessment that minimise the possibility for students to submit plagiarised material, while not reducing the quality and rigour of assessment requirements;
- Installing highly visible procedures for monitoring and detecting cheating, including appropriate punishment and re-education measures.
The University of Tasmania is committed to educating students about academic integrity and detecting instances of academic misconduct. Academic misconduct undermines the values of good scholarship.