Editorial 8(2)


  • Tracey Bretag




I am pleased to welcome you to the final issue of the International Journal for Educational Integrity for 2012. It has been a very busy year for academic integrity, with numerous conferences, symposiums and research projects taking place around the globe. In June, Plagiarismadvice.org celebrated their 10th Anniversary with the 5th International Integrity and Plagiarism Conference (5IPC) held at Newcastle-upon-Tyne, UK (www.plagiarismadvice.org). The International Association of Academic Integrity Conferences was launched in Newcastle, with a mission to "facilitate international conversations on educational issues ranging from cheating and plagiarism to pedagogy and best practices" (www.iaaic.org). In November, the International Center for Academic Integrity planned to hold their 20th Anniversary Annual Conference at Princeton, New Jersey, only to have to cancel the event due to Hurricane Sandy. The program is available on the ICAI website: www.academicintegrity.org. The Asia Pacific Forum on Educational Integrity held a symposium entitled 'Adapt and remix: Academic integrity in action' at the University of Wollongong in November. The program and abstracts are available at www.apfei.edu.au. Finally, the Australian Office for Learning and Teaching funded project, Academic integrity standards: Aligning policy and practice in Australian universities, concluded on 30 November, and all research papers and learning resources are available at www.aisp.apfei.edu.au. This issue begins with four selected and reworked papers from the 5th International Integrity and Plagiarism Conference, followed by two papers that were submitted via the standard online journal submission process. The variety of papers represent the depth, breadth and increasing maturity of academic integrity as a field of study, as well as the multiplicity of viewpoints and diversity of cultural perspectives on the topic. Countries represented in this issue include the USA, UK, Australia and Iran and the theme uniting every paper is the need to educate and support students to learn about the values and practices of academic integrity, while simultaneously ensuring consistent and appropriate responses to breaches when they occur. Judith Jurowska and John Thompson open the issue with the aptly titled, "Opening doors early to academic integrity". The authors report that the discipline-specific study skills on academic integrity, which were part of a pilot project to prepare new undergraduate students for tertiary study, resulted in a dramatic reduction in recorded cases of plagiarism at the University of Durham UK. Although analysis indicated that the pre-arrival skills exercises did not result in a significant improvement in grades for submitted assignments, Jurowska and Thompson maintain that students did benefit in much broader terms relating to understanding, engagement and preparation. Mary Davis, from Oxford Brookes University UK, also highlights the role of academic integrity education, specifically in relation to international postgraduate students. Using data from interviews with eight international English as an Additional Language (EAL) Masters students, and their postgraduate tutors, as well as key international academic integrity experts, Davis calls for continuous pedagogical support to be provided to international postgraduate students during their program of study. The highlight of Davis' paper is the opportunity provided for the range of respondents to provide their individual, and often conflicting, perspectives through verbatim quotations from the interview data. Cally Guerin and Michelle Picard from the University of Adelaide, provide the third paper from 5IPC, reporting on a pedagogical innovation that makes a cheeky reference to the commercial text-matching software by iParadigms, Turnitin. Like Davis in the UK, Guerin and Picard are concerned with the language and learning needs of international EAL students, this time in the Australian context. In order to develop novice research writers' understanding of acceptable use of sources and mastery of discipline-specific language, the authors have developed a process they have called 'Try it on', which uses concordancing software alongside Turnitin. Their paper presents textual analysis of two case studies where research students used the 'Try it on' process, each with different but successful results. The fourth paper presented at 5I2PC is by Cath Ellis, from the University of Huddersfield, UK. In keeping with the stance of every author in this issue, Ellis' work is framed by a commitment to a "rigorous and consistent holistic approach to educational integrity". With this framework in mind, Ellis provides a fresh perspective on the topic by addressing the challenge of how to manage the workload implications of plagiarism detection. The author maintains that Electronic Assessment Management (EAM), integrating appropriately administered text-matching software, has the potential to provide both an effective and efficient solution. Ellis' paper provides details of how one UK university has successfully operationalised EAM using a business process approach that could be adapted in other contexts. Researchers, writers and practitioners from around the world are keenly interested in how to use electronic tools most effectively to both educate students about academic integrity and detect plagiarism. Joseph Mazer (Clemson University) and Stephen Hunt (Illinois State University) explore how electronic submission of assignments influenced first-year students' perceptions of academic dishonesty and self-reports of cheating behaviour. Participants included 147 first year undergraduate students enrolled in a basic communication course at a Midwestern university. Experimental group instructors asked their students to submit their assignments to an email account on the understanding that this would allow their instructors to check for plagiarism. This group received numerous reminders throughout the semester to submit their work electronically. Students in the control group did not have to submit their assignments in this way. Both groups of students were required to respond to a questionnaire designed to gauge their understanding of academic integrity as well as self-reported cheating behaviour. Resulted indicated that the control group participants were more likely to self-report cheating behaviours, while the experimental group students improved significantly in their perception of what constitutes academic dishonesty. Mazers and Hunt's study provides an example of a simple, affordable and transferable way of influencing students' behaviour and understandings of academic integrity. Other authors in this issue have addressed some of the challenges faced by postgraduate international EAL students. The final paper in is this issue is much more than just another study examining the prevalence rates of different forms of plagiarism. What makes this paper unique is that the student participants had three distinct characteristics. They were postgraduate (Masters), EAL and Iranian. Using a questionnaire adapted from one developed and used by Maxwell, Curtis and Vardanega (2006), and Curtis and Popal (2011), Zafarghandi, Khoshroo and Barkat, perhaps not surprisingly, found that plagiarism is pervasive among Iranian EAL Masters students. In company with perceived best practice, the researchers also recommend that "early educational intervention is critical to enhance students' perceived seriousness of plagiarism", and that such educational strategies need to be embedded throughout the student's program of study. I trust you will enjoy the rich and varied papers in this issue of the International Journal for Educational Integrity, and that many of the lessons, both pedagogic and research-oriented, will be useful to you in your academic practice. Please continue to submit papers for review, either via the online platform, or directly to tracey.bretag@unisa.edu.au. With best wishes for the festive season, Tracey Bretag, IJEI Editor.