Academic Integrity, Misconduct and Plagiarism


Violations of the principles of academic integrity represent a series of incorrect actions on the part of any participant in the scientific and educational process. Examples of dishonest academic behaviour are plagiarism, self-plagiarism, fraud in exams or final examinations, conspiracy, payment to a third party to perform scientific work, falsification of the data obtained in the study, academic misconduct among scientific experts, and reviewers. All the listed examples of academic dishonesty in scientific and educational activities not only undermine the authority of modern science, but also threaten the violator with the withdrawal of thesis, dissertation, as well as expulsion from the university, postgraduate study, and doctoral studies. It is important to note that academic misconduct and plagiarism are the most serious violations of academic integrity in science, since the very idea of ​​original research suffers, which ultimately not only does not benefit the scientific community but also harms it.

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The term “plagiarism” is understood to mean the appropriation of scientific ideas, results, or texts without correctly specifying the source of borrowing. Plagiarism is an element of misconduct in the scientific field. Such forms of unlawful behaviour include scientific plagiarism, manipulation of scientific information, and the production of pseudoscientific products. The category of scientific plagiarism can be decomposed into the types of evident and non-obvious scientific plagiarism when the mandatory participation of an expert is required for consideration (Yeung et al. 2018). The prevalence of plagiarism in its various forms among students and graduate students depends on the methodology for studying this issue, while many researchers use the so-called self-reporting technique. In other words, it is an intra-university control of scientific work on the subject of plagiarism.

Academic Integrity

Academic integrity means academic honesty and assumes that students and teachers strictly follow the code of honour, trust, respect, and are responsible for their actions, for example, completing assignments, writing and publishing works, assessing knowledge, and sharing them in the process of training, teaching and research. The development of academic ethics is the main means by which universities can make a real contribution to building a civilized society. The issues of cultivating academic integrity in universities and other educational institutions are especially relevant for a number of reasons (Ahmadi 2014). Firstly, there is convincing evidence that in recent years, the number of manifestations of academic dishonesty has increased significantly, while cheating and plagiarism have already become widespread in secondary schools (Biagioli 2014). Consequently, universities will increasingly have to deal with issues related to academic integrity.

Secondly, there is a crisis of decency in society as a whole, which gives rise to a crisis of academic decency in universities in particular. The experience of academic dishonesty that students receive at universities teaches them in the future, after graduation, to easily not adhere to the rules and break the laws (Siddons 2008). Therefore, universities, like other educational institutions, are often the last chance to overcome the crisis of decency and, therefore, have a special responsibility (Cameron 2011). Indeed, it is clear that if habits of virtue are not instilled in students before they graduate and go to work, it is implausible that these habits can be developed in them later.

Academic Misconduct

Academic misconduct in educational activity is a serious problem of the modern scientific community, which has a great negative impact on the effectiveness of scientific research. Recently, this phenomenon has become the object of close attention of scientists studying the social and economic problems of modern science (Helgesson 2014). The peer-reviewed articles present studies of various aspects of this negative phenomenon. Another important factor is the presence of a significant number of variations in the definitions of unfair academic behaviour. At least seven types of such activities that are not reflected in the standard federal definition are present in 10% of the descriptions given by scientific institutions in their regulatory documents (Suter & Suter 2018). However, the role of these variations in the process of maintaining standards of good behaviour in the academic environment remains uncertain.

On the one hand, it can be argued that these variations contribute to the maintenance of standards of good behaviour since they focus the attention of the academic community on options for violating these standards. On the other hand, it can also be said that certain discrepancies in the definition of academic misconduct in normative documents and the practice of various scientific institutions create a risk of uncertainty (Choo & Paull 2013). It mostly occurs in the course of interaction between representatives of different scientific institutions (Hayes & Introna 2005). There may be a lack of understanding of what course of action in each case will meet the standards of academic integrity adopted in various scientific institutions.

Plagiarism Avoidance

There are a number of plagiarism avoidance approaches, which will ensure that a student will not be involved in academic dishonesty. It is important always to study the ethical requirements or regulations of the journals in which students submit the manuscripts. It provides definitions of plagiarism and self-plagiarism, as well as the consequences for the authors in case of unethical behaviour (Managing academic dishonesty 2019). Copying fragments of other scientific papers should be avoided, and a student should also carefully read the articles of colleagues and in his or her own words to formulate ideas or patterns that they managed to discover (Bailey 2011). Even in technical texts, the same thing can be said in different ways, and rephrasing also helps to understand the source material better. In the draft manuscript for each retransmitted borrowed fragment, it is important to indicate its source in brackets depending on the citation style. Subsequently, the students will draw up links according to the requirements of the journal, for which they prepare a manuscript (Davies 2011). If someone quotes another work verbatim, one must make sure to use quotation marks, even if it comes to just a few words.

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In addition, students should provide links to sources next to borrowed fragments, as a thesis-link type, and avoid large, “chunky” links to 5-10 works at once for one general thesis. Firstly, the habit of referring to everything at once may indicate that, in reality, students did not analyse the works to which they refer. Secondly, the reader will not know where to look for information that interests him or her. Thirdly, this complicates the work of the editor, who must check the correspondence of the links stated in the article with the fact (Neville 2010). The editor’s loss of time does not assist him or her for responsible and patient work with the student’s manuscript.

It is also important to carefully check the output of each publication one links to. If students want to use someone else’s drawing or other graphic material, they should find out who is its copyright holder and what mode of use is set by the given person for the content. If students cannot use the data without the permission of the copyright holder, they should make sure to contact this person and request such permission. If a student is the first author or correspondent author, he or she needs to monitor the work of co-authors (Bradley 2015). Students should immediately inform colleagues of the need to adhere to publication ethics, and after the draft is ready, they must check it for fragments of text that are sharply out of context by the style of presentation.

Lastly, a student must always remember that plagiarism is a gross violation of publication ethics, which leads to the discrediting of science and scientists. In the digital age, it has become easy to present and disseminate research results, and it is difficult to protect them from dishonest colleagues (Flowerdew & Li 2007). Existing software algorithms for detecting borrowing facts are imperfect, and reviewers and readers of magazines still play an important role in controlling the originality of publications.

Conclusion and Reflections

In conclusion, academic misconduct and plagiarism in science is an urgent problem and a serious violation of the principles of academic conscientiousness, since, at the same time, the originality and the very idea of ​​scientific research lose their significance. Intellectual borrowing affects all levels of the scientific and educational process, from undergraduate and graduate students to the faculty of any institution. And therefore, the fight against academic dishonesty should be on a national scale, not just by accumulating knowledge and skills, but also by forming professional and general cultural values ​​at all levels of the scientific and educational process. It is also advisable to organize local groups of control of the code of academic integrity in each higher educational institution or research institute. Undoubtedly, further development of universal teaching modules is necessary, in which the goals of academic integrity, the most common reasons for its violation, their types, methods of their eradication, and possible consequences will be explained to every novice scientist.

Reference List

Ahmadi, A 2014, ‘Plagiarism in the academic context: a study of Iranian EFL learners’, Research Ethics, vol. 10, no. 3, pp. 151-168.

Bailey, S 2011, Academic writing: a handbook for international students, Routledge, Abingdon.

Biagioli, M 2014, ‘Plagiarism, kinship and slavery’, Theory, Culture & Society, vol. 31, no. 2, pp. 65-91.

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Bradley, EG 2015, ‘Using computer simulations and games to prevent student plagiarism’, Journal of Educational Technology Systems, vol. 44, no. 2, pp. 240-252.

Cameron, S 2011, The MBA handbook: academic and professional skills for mastering management, Financial Times/Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle River, NJ.

Choo, TE & Paull, M 2013, ‘Reducing the prevalence of plagiarism: a model for staff, students and universities’, Issues in Educational Research, vol. 23, no. 2, pp. 283-298.

Davies, M 2011, Study skills for international postgraduates, Red Globe Press, London.

Flowerdew, J & Li, Y 2007, ‘Plagiarism and second language writing in an electronic age’, Annual Review of Applied Linguistics, vol. 27, pp. 161-183.

Hayes, N & Introna, LD 2005, ‘Cultural values, plagiarism, and fairness: when plagiarism gets in the way of learning’, Ethics & Behavior, vol. 15, no. 3, pp. 213-231.

Helgesson, G 2014, ‘Time for a change in the understanding of what constitutes text plagiarism?’ Research Ethics, vol. 10, no. 4, pp. 187-195.

Managing academic dishonesty 2019, Web.

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Neville, C 2010, The complete guide to referencing and avoiding plagiarism, Open University Press, London.

Siddons, S 2008, The complete presentation skills handbook: how to understand and reach your audience for maximum impact and success, Kogan Page, London.

Suter, WN & Suter, PM 2018, ‘Understanding plagiarism’, Home Health Care Management & Practice, vol. 30, no. 4, pp. 151-154.

Yeung, AHW, Chu, CBL, Chu, SKW & Fung, CKW 2018, ‘Exploring junior secondary students’ plagiarism behavior’, Journal of Librarianship and Information Science, vol. 50, no. 4, pp. 361-373.

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