Academic journal article Journal of Information Ethics

Academic Dishonesty: A Comparative Study of Students of Library and Information Science in Botswana and Zambia

Academic journal article Journal of Information Ethics

Academic Dishonesty: A Comparative Study of Students of Library and Information Science in Botswana and Zambia

Article excerpt


Academic dishonesty is an issue of concern world-wide. In universities it has become a stumbling block in genuine research activity, crippling talent and the potential of students who are future leaders in every field. The advent of the Internet has made it easier for students to indulge in dishonest practices. As Young (2001) has pointed out, "in recent years, professors have been frustrated by the way more and more students use the Internet to cheat-by plagiarizing the work of other students, by copying material from online reference works, by buying term papers from online paper-writing companies, and by other means." On the other hand, college and university libraries' records show a bleak picture of borrowing books by the students for their studies and research work. This is an indication that most students depend on web-based information. While this in itself may not indicate that such information is being used unethically, it does point out an enhanced potential for doing so.

"Academic dishonesty consists of any deliberate attempt to falsify, fabricate or otherwise tamper with data, information, records, or any other material that is relevant to the student's participation in any course, laboratory, or other academic exercise or function" (Delta College, 1999). The Delta College definition further explained that academic dishonesty includes acts of cheating or other forms of academic dishonesty that are intended to gain unfair academic advantage. This includes plagiarism, which is deliberately presenting work, words, ideas, theories, etc., derived in whole or in part from a source external to the student as though they are the student's own efforts. Other academic misconduct includes falsifying or fabricating data, records, or any information relevant to the student's participation in any course or academic exercise, or tampering with such information as collected or distributed by the faculty member. On a similar note, Loyola Marymount University (2012) provides some examples of academic dishonesty, such as cheating and facilitating cheating, plagiarism, falsification of data, unauthorized access to computers or privileged information, improper use of Internet sites and resources, and improper use of non-print media. These various types of academic dishonesty show the complexity of the issue. It is important to understand the complexity and difficulty in order to find effective ways to resolve or minimize dishonesty.

To deal with this problem a number of universities have introduced policies and procedures. For instance, University of Botswana's (UB) basic goal is to foster a learning environment that helps students to grow personally and professionally, and to attain academic excellence. UB expects all its students to uphold the highest personal and academic standards of honesty and integrity. A task group on academic dishonesty among UB Students was set up by the Deputy Vice Chancellor's office in March 2005. Consequently, UB had introduced an academic honesty policy for students. Through this policy UB seeks to promote the highest standards of academic honesty and integrity for all students and to enforce these standards by means of fair, objective, and expeditious procedures (Revised Academic Honesty Policy for Students, 2007).

There have been numerous reports, both formal and informal, of the high incidence of academic dishonesty among higher education students. The general perception is that this problem is endemic in universities worldwide and some believe it is increasing (Schemo, 2001). Anecdotal and reported evidence indicates that there are many ways in which students cheat, and the now widespread use of the Internet in universities offers yet another avenue for students inclined to this type of behavior (Szego, 2000).

Within the universities under study, many lecturers have informally raised concerns about the increasing incidence of academic dishonesty among students. …

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