Academic journal article South Asian Studies

Academic Integrity: Effects of Demographic Variables on Students' Conduct

Academic journal article South Asian Studies

Academic Integrity: Effects of Demographic Variables on Students' Conduct

Article excerpt

Introduction

The foundation of the academic and scholarly world revolves around ethics and integrity, where new ideas and theories are created, confirmed and re-confirmed; experiments and research is carried out and published for the benefit of humanity with a genuine desire of acknowledgement. Higher education institutions are established to create new ideas and formulate new theories, formulas and standards with the help of experiments, field work and through other research methods. The second important purpose of such organizations is to produce highly skilled and competent graduates with high standards of honesty and professional ethics to serve the community. It is generally assumed that due credit should be given to the authors of new ideas, innovations and revolutionary inventions (Ramzan, Munir, Siddique, & Asif, 2011).

According to McCabe, Trevino, & Butterfield (2001) cheating and plagiarism were found to be the most prevailing acts of academic dishonesty at the college level; however, the phenomenon is not limited to the college level only. The other issue which has been a core issue in debates is the definition of academic integrity. The problem with academic integrity or understanding academic dishonesty is basically, the absence of a generally accepted definition of the terminology (Kibler, 1998). However, there are many definitions which are acceptable now in the academic community.

"Academic integrity means honesty and responsibility in scholarship. Students and faculty alike must obey rules of honest scholarship, which means that all academic work should result from an individual's own efforts. Intellectual contributions from others must be consistently and responsibly acknowledged. Academic work completed in any other way is fraudulent" (University of Illinois, 2013).

In March 1965, the Senate Council of the University of Pittsburgh approved a policy statement on the subject of academic integrity. It was declared, in language that is as true and vital today as it was then, that:

"The University of Pittsburgh seeks excellence in the discovery and dissemination of knowledge. Excellence in scholarship cannot be achieved in situations which are contaminated by dishonest practices. All members of the University community are obligated to adhere strictly to the highest standards of integrity in study, research, instruction, and evaluation".

A significant number of studies on self-reported cheating behaviors reveal high levels of academic misconduct in higher education - cheating on exams, plagiarizing other scholastic works, fabricating research results, and forging academic documents (Bartlett, 2006; Bowers, 1964; Davis, 1993; Drake, 1941; Hinman, 2002; McCabe & Trevino, 1993). In a study conducted by McCabe (2001) approximately 4,500 US schools found self-reported incidents of cheating. While cheating was typically thought to be an undergraduate concern (Powers, 2007), such results were also seen in business students (Mangan, 2006).

The student's perceptions of academic integrity have also been considered an important phenomenon in many studies. In quantitative studies this factor has been explored with the help of questionnaires (Ferguson, 2010;Ramzan, Munir, Siddique, & Asif, 2011)

After the transformation of University Grants Commission (UGC) to Higher Education Commission (HEC), Pakistan, the HEC has been more focused on research and development through giving incentives to students getting admissions in graduate and postgraduate programs in Pakistan and abroad. A substantial amount of grants, scholarships, financial aid and rewards are being given to students, researchers and faculty for carrying out and publishing research (Higher Education Commission, 2013). The level of focus on research and scholarship, however, has been changing with the changes in priorities of the incumbent governments.

In Pakistan, there are a number of plagiarism cases of faculty members and students which were reported to their respective institutions and the Higher Education Commission (HEC) of Pakistan. …

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