Crisis on Campus: Confronting Academic Misconduct

Article excerpt

Crisis on Campus: Confronting Academic Misconduct. Decoo, W. (2002). MIT Press: Cambridge, MA. 280 Pages, $38.00, hardcover.

Purpose

Students in higher education are increasingly engaging in plagiarism and other forms of academic misconduct. Educators recognize this increase is occurring throughout their institution and within the walls of their classrooms. Educators face added pressure of handling cases of academic misconduct given the fact that many cases go unreported. The first purpose of this review and of the book as well, is to inform educators in higher education about the seriousness of academic misconduct; plagiarism in particular. A second purpose is to inform educators in higher education of various strategies to utilize in reporting cases to superiors or other administrators within their institution.

Author's Intent

The author's primary intent is to provide practical advice to whistleblowers who report cases of academic misconduct and to individuals who are accused of academic misconduct regarding the consequences and seriousness of this problem. In addition to discussing strategies for detecting, analyzing, assessing, and reporting and handling cases of academic misconduct, the author also examines strategies for prevention. This book can be viewed as a guide for current and future educators in higher education focusing on what actions to take to handle this problem. The author also pays special attention to plagiarism because this is the most complex and difficult form of academic misconduct to handle.

Content Highlights

The book begins with a historical overview of academic misconduct. Decoo continues to discuss one of the most interesting assumptions among higher education faculty: plagiarism is a problem with undergraduates only. These discussions tend to imply that plagiarism is a characteristic of students who do not belong or are only passing through higher education. Students are continuously handing in papers written from previous courses, submitting papers downloaded from the Web, and using hand-held devices that have answers to exam questions. Although faculty recognize that many students engage in these practices, there is still a tendency to accept them as unavoidable, and students will cheat when given the opportunity.

The author contends that plagiarism is not a problem that applies only to undergraduates. Graduate students and faculty have also been involved in plagiarism. Graduate students are viewed as preacademics because they must prove themselves worthy within their profession (p. 13). Given this pressure, many graduate students are tempted to plagiarize their works due to workloads, time constraints, pressure to publish, and other obligations. When graduate students are guilty of plagiarizing, they can expect to face certain consequences and actions by instructors, which range from expulsion of their major program to strict monitoring. However, relationships between faculty and graduate students are different. Decoo suggests, professors may not report a graduate student for plagiarizing because the professors may have plagiarized, and they may fear the chance of being exposed if a graduate student is reported. This leads to the interesting question "why do faculty plagiarize?" One reason is that there is an increasing pressure for doctoral level faculty to publish for tenure track. Tenure track positions are competitive and require an instructor to have a certain number of publications. This pressure leads some instructors to publish works in short amounts of time, which may tempt a faculty member to engage in plagiarism. …