Academic journal article Contemporary Nurse : a Journal for the Australian Nursing Profession

Promoting Integrity in the Workplace: A Priority for All Academic Health Professionals

Academic journal article Contemporary Nurse : a Journal for the Australian Nursing Profession

Promoting Integrity in the Workplace: A Priority for All Academic Health Professionals

Article excerpt

In countries around the world, academics are working in complex environments with mul- tiple and competing demands, a situation that is impacting on workplace satisfaction, staff morale and motivation. The performance-driven cul- ture in academia is highly competitive, with the requirement to develop and strengthen one's research profile, publish in high quality jour- nals and undertake funded research in addition to teach, supervise higher degree students and actively engage with community stakeholders (Cleary, Horsfall, & Jackson, 2011; Fitzmaurice, 2008; McDermid, Peters, Jackson, & Daly, 2012).

Many universities have policy documents to inform faculty workload and such documents often incorporate consideration of scholarly activities (e.g., publications, research), commit- tee work, student advisement, and teaching and related activities (Cohen, Hickey, & Upchurch, 2009). Typically, workloads are high for academ- ics and some mistakenly equate high workloads with greater productivity (Soliman & Soliman, 1997). To successfully negotiate the teaching, research, governance, and engagement aspects of the academic role, academics can find it helpful to form collaborative relationships with colleagues, rather than work in isolation (Cleary et al., 2011). However, the success of such collaborations is dependent on collegial trust, and the nature of the professional networks and types of working rela- tionships that can be developed.

Anecdotally, many academics with high research and publication output work in excess of prescribed hours, with little incentive apart from keeping their job or developing and maintaining a 'track record'. This appears to be possible or manageable in early career stages, and some view this as desirable in order to establish the necessary profile and reputation. However, in the longer term this may not be sus- tainable. Further, with the current global recession, financial imperatives determine priorities (Rolfe, 2012), and money and kudos-earning demands are in conflict with the intentions and activities that are associated with and surround good teaching, rel- evant research, and authentic team work.

What is integrity?

Academic integrity is defined as 'a commitment, even in the face of adversity, to five fundamental values: honesty, trust, fairness, respect, and responsibility. From these values flow principles of behavior that enable academic communities to translate ideals to action' (Center for Academic Integrity, n.d.). As a concept, integrity encompasses ethical principles, such as autonomy, fidelity, privacy, and personal beliefs and values (Mcfall, 1987; Widang & Fridlund, 2003). Acting in accordance with one's general ethical principles is also in keeping with so- called moral integrity' (Widang & Fridlund, 2003). Moral integrity requires one to distinguish right from wrong, and be prepared to speak up and act for right and against wrong, even under non-conducive circumstances. It is part of the new professionalism', encompassing personal virtues, being advocated for health professionals, and there is no reason why this should also not be applied to those in academia (Robertson & Walter, 2011).

Integrity relates closely to good governance', which addresses the Values, principles and norms' of an organization's daily operations and the requirement for a workplace to have integrity, standards, guidance and monitoring (Evans, 2012, p. 97). The way we behave towards colleagues is an important aspect of maintaining integrity, but despite the existence of comprehensive and well- intentioned protocols, the literature is replete with evidence of diverse breaches of ethical codes. In both the academic workplace and healthcare set- ting, employees are required to commit to acting with integrity through, as a condition of employ- ment, acceptance of institutional Codes of Ethics, Conduct and other codes designed to uphold work- place propriety such as policies regarding discrimi- nation, conflict of interest, open disclosure and anti-corruption (e. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.