An analysis of published research on academic integrity


  • Kay Fielden
  • Donald Joyce



In this paper, a multi-stakeholder, multi-level theoretical framework has been used to analyse a selection of 125 published papers on academic integrity, all with Australasian authors. Concepts informing the theoretical framework include: underlying author's moral or value judgements about academic integrity; views held by multiple stakeholders; overlapping levels of abstraction in producing research outputs; human information-seeking behaviour; three stances adopted in researching academic integrity; the influence of a managed higher education climate; and the changed nature of information availability. Results obtained from this study suggested that there was a dominant positivist mindset adopted by authors in this particular sample; moral or value judgements about academic integrity are present, but often not stated; most papers are about student behaviour; and academic staff researchers provide the dominant stakeholder view. Widely available global information has brought with it both benefits and problems. In the academic context, the issue of properly acknowledging sources (which is an important aspect of academic integrity) has received a lot of attention in the last five or six years. Joyce (2007) conducted a review of publications by Australasian authors concerned with academic integrity (AI) and located 125 papers that have appeared in journals or have been presented at academic conferences since 1998. He noted that 'many of the academic papers (more than 50) had been presented at one of the two Asia-Pacific Educational Integrity Conferences (held in 2003 and 2005) and there was considerable overlap in content (p. 188). In this review paper a selection of 125 academic papers on AI with Australasian authors have been analysed utilising a theoretical framework initially proposed by Fielden (2008). This theoretical framework is underpinned by Bates' (2006) theory on information searching, Floridi's (2006) 'infosphere' and Introna's (2005) multiple views of the nature of information technology. According to Bates, four main ways of searching for information are (Figure 3): searching, which is active and direct; monitoring, which is passive and direct; browsing, which is active and undirected; and being aware, which is passive and undirected. Floridi has provided a starting point for this framework with his infosphere (Figure 1) and levels of abstraction (Figure 2). Introna (2005) provided a third dimension to the theoretical framework utilised in this paper when he established multiple views of the nature of information technology in considering information ethics. This notion of multiple levels has been applied to published papers on AI; the levels being AI as artefact, AI as social construction, and AI as phenomenon. These three levels are reflected in the main column headings of Tables 1, 2 and 3. This study was conducted because one of the authors is interested in developing conceptual frameworks to inform a deeper understanding of research issues and the other author has a breadth of knowledge about plagiarism, particularly in Australasia. The structure of the paper is as follows: firstly the terminology and themes used in this paper are defined and the domain in which the theoretical framework applies is discussed; secondly the theoretical framework is described; then 125 papers from the current body of literature on academic integrity (1998 2006) are positioned according to the theoretical model; finally a discussion on findings from this positioning is followed by conclusions and recommendations for future research.