Academic journal article Journal of Legal, Ethical and Regulatory Issues

Cyber-Plagiarism: Different Method-Same Song

Academic journal article Journal of Legal, Ethical and Regulatory Issues

Cyber-Plagiarism: Different Method-Same Song

Article excerpt


The recent corporate scandals represented by the bankruptcy and criminal prosecutions of officials from Enron, WorldCom and other apparently successful corporations have raised the question whether business ethics education should hold an increased presence in business school education. These scandals have resulted in increased regulation, e.g. Sarbanes-Oxley (Sarbanes-Oxley, 2003), increased visibility and examination of corporate codes of conduct (Berensen, 2004) and revamped professional codes of conduct for accountants and boards of directors' members (Berensen, 2004). These reactions reflect society's justifiable concern that corporate executives and managers had not fulfilled their fiduciary responsibilities when managing shareholders' money.

Just as the ethical and legal lapses in the business world have resulted in increased scrutiny of business conduct and a renewed interest in ethics and legal sanctions, increases in students' academic dishonesty have resulted in increasing efforts to curb it . Schools have considered developing student conduct or honor codes as one method to curb the rising tide of dishonesty (Donald L. McCabe, 2005; "Nevada Schools to Adopt Code of Honor to Curb Student Cheating," 2005; Schulman, 1998). This renewed interest is due in part to studies that show that cheating during tests is one-third to one-half lower in schools that have honor codes as contrasted to schools that do not (Donald L. McCabe, 2005). In addition, in these schools, students are more likely to report cheating by the peers than in non-honor code campuses.

One explanation for the reduction in cheating in schools with honor codes maybe be because the institutions focus on character and the school's culture. If the institution successfully makes a shift to encourage increased academic integrity, then students may conclude that everyone is not cheating and feel less justification to cheat or condone others' cheating. In a small, relatively homogenous group, a values-based honor code might be an effective way to change conduct (Berensen, 2004). It would be easier to change, in part, because the group is starting from a common value base.

Changing an academic environment is a long-term strategy that may be difficult to implement in large state universities. Large universities do not have a homogenous student population. The difficulties in changing culture in that environment are much more intractable because of that diversity in values.

Because it may be difficult to change ethical values, the more effective codes may be regulatory codes that are designed to proscribe behavior coupled with the imposition of sanctions when the rules are violated. In the legal profession, the code of professional responsibility has moved from a code based on general ethical rules that lawyers pledged to follow to a more regulatory-oriented code which defines proscribed and prescribed behavior, contains examples of appropriate and inappropriate behavior and establishes sanctions for failing to follow those rules (Berensen, 2004).

Because students in online courses hail from any geographic location, fostering similar values may not be practical, possible or an efficient use of time (Moore, 2003). For example, the University of North Carolina's Instrument of Student Judicial Governance states that it is "adopted in furtherance of the University community's shared commitment to the pursuit of truth, and the dissemination of knowledge to succeeding generations of citizens devoted to the high ideals of personal honor and respect for the rights of others. These goals can only be achieved in a setting in which intellectual honesty and personal integrity are highly valued; other individuals are trusted, respected, and fairly treated; and the responsibility for articulating and maintaining high standards is widely shared"(University of North Carolina, 2003). This code is an imposes an obligation to act with integrity without limiting it to only traditional courses. …

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