Working Together to Reduce Plagiarism and Promote Academic Integrity: Poster for #bioconf 2011

Draft of a poster presented to Effective Learning in the Biosciences conference 2011 in Edinburgh.

Title: Working Together to Reduce Plagiarism and Promote Academic Integrity: A Collaborative Initiative

Abstract: When a student is introduced to plagiarism in their early days of Higher Education, the induction is often a very negative one, including strict warnings and information about the range of punishments and dire consequences of committing plagiarism.

There is an alternative approach. Over the past few decades a growing number of US institutions have been adopting an honour code system, which has been reported to have a positive effect on the level of academic misconduct among their students. This value-based system places campus-wide emphasis on academic integrity, student involvement and mutual responsibility of staff and students for adhering to academic values and maintaining academic standards. Collaboration between staff and students and student-led initiatives, therefore, are instrumental to this model’s success.

At Leicester, we are exploring how to change our approach to plagiarism (and academic dishonesty in general) to enable students make the most of their academic potential through embracing core academic values and mastering correct academic conventions. There is little existing research on whether this approach would work in the UK. An exploratory study in 2006 reported that while participants appreciated the idea of a positive value-based approach to their academic practice, they felt that honour codes might not be easily adopted in the UK setting because of their ‘too American’ tone and style (Clarke & Aiello, 2006). A series of focus groups with staff and students exploring what aspects of an honour code system may be acceptable in the UK was conducted. The poster will outline the project and the results from the focus groups.

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