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PhD student loses his way Library 118 (JISC 2005).

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Presentation on theme: "PhD student loses his way Library 118 (JISC 2005)."— Presentation transcript:

1 PhD student loses his way Library 118 (JISC 2005)

2 Purpose of case study Target audience: Higher Degree by Research Supervisors, Heads of School, academic integrity decision makers, postgraduate research students. Key issue being addressed: The potential for misunderstandings about academic integrity for mature-aged postgraduate students. Purpose of the case: To assist supervisors to consider the needs of students returning to postgraduate research study, and to consider their own responsibilities in mentoring and supporting those students. Materials and preparation needed to answer case: o Copy of the university’s guidelines for postgraduate student conduct and/or policy relating to the supervisory relationship. o Copy of university academic integrity policy and procedures. Check if there is one specifically for HDR students. 2 Academic Integrity Standards Project

3 Our research Analysis of academic integrity policies at 39 universities  one in five policies had no mention of higher degree by research (HDR) students. Survey of 15,304 students at 6 participating universities  One in five postgraduate research students said they had never heard of academic integrity  Two in five said they did not know whether their university had an academic integrity policy.  HDR students were the least satisfied with the information they had received about how to avoid an academic integrity breach.  HDR students indicated a higher agreement than their undergraduate peers to the question, ‘Do you think academic integrity has relevance to your life or work experience outside the university?’ (95.6% vs 92.1%). 3 Academic Integrity Standards Project

4 Our research… Interviews with 28 senior academic integrity stakeholders from the six participating universities: “Having just been overseas and seeing, I think it's now three ministers in Germany that have now lost their seats because of plagiarised theses, then I think it's just as important for undergraduates, post graduates, high degree students and scholars and staff to understand what [academic integrity] is about. And in fact, in some ways, I think even the high degree area is almost more important in terms of making sure because of the extensiveness of the literature reviews and so on in those works. They're the ones where people have fallen over most [with] their thesis writing and it's not been detected.” (Senior Academic 2, University F, emphasis added) 4 Academic Integrity Standards Project

5 The Case: Michael Michael is a 32 year-old Australian student who has recently returned to university to complete a PhD. His 1st Class Honours degree in English Literature ensured a full scholarship. For 10 years Michael has worked at a senior level in public relations and marketing. Michael misses the University’s orientation sessions for postgraduate students. He has no set classes, his Supervisor does not set a regular meeting schedule, and she rarely responds to s. His only requirement is a Research Proposal for presentation within six months of starting at the university. 5 Academic Integrity Standards Project

6 ‘This is the life’ Michael’s days are unstructured and he feels like he is on holidays. He reads broadly and finds that his original idea for a topic has been extensively researched. He changes topic a number of times but finds it increasingly difficult to settle on a project. Three weeks before the six month deadline, Michael’s supervisor sends a short reminding him that the Research Proposal is due. Although he hasn’t written anything yet, Michael feels confident that he will be able to pull something together in time; after all, it’s only a 30 page document and he used to knock reports up in a couple of days when he was a Marketing Manager. 6 Academic Integrity Standards Project

7 It can’t be that hard With just a few days until the deadline, Michael puts in an ‘all-nighter” just like he used to do as an undergraduate student. He cobbles together parts of his original Honours thesis, interspersed with bits and pieces from unattributed online articles and internet sources. Michael submits the Proposal with the view that his Supervisor will probably provide feedback and make suggestions for revisions anyway. He signs a cover sheet stating “I declare the work in this document to be my own, except where acknowledgement of sources is made”, and authorising the university to check the assignment for plagiarism using text-comparison software. 7 Academic Integrity Standards Project

8 The correspondence Michael receives a standard stating that his work has been forwarded to the Academic Integrity Decision Maker (AIDM). When Michael contacts his supervisor, she refuses to speak to him, stating that university policy dictates that all correspondence relating to potential academic misconduct must be directed to the AIDM. Michael is very anxious as he has no comparable experience in his professional life or in his earlier studies. Rather than face an academic integrity inquiry he withdraws from his candidature and resumes his former employment. 8 Academic Integrity Standards Project

9 Questions for discussion 1. How much of this issue is Michael’s responsibility? 2. How much responsibility should Michael’s supervisor take for this situation? 3. What responsibility does the university have to ensure the integrity of research, from postgraduate students’ preliminary investigations through to professors’ published papers? 4. How might this situation have been avoided? 5. What type of support does your university offer higher degree by research students? a. Is this support offered in all study periods? b. Who is responsible for ensuring that the student avails themself of this support? 6. Are mature-aged students offered any additional resources/support? 7. Was this breach of academic integrity the result of laziness, poor study habits, lack of understanding or inadequate support? Or all of these factors? Brainstorm ways to engage HDR students in learning about academic integrity requirements. 8. Brainstorm ways to engage HDR supervisors in understanding academic integrity requirements and how to communicate these to their students. 9 Academic Integrity Standards Project

10 References and resources Bennett, R. (2005). Factors associated with student plagiarism in a post-1992 university. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 30(2), Bretag, T. (2008) Responding to plagiarism: The need to engage with students’ ‘real lives’, Refereed paper presented at the ATN Assessment Conference: Engaging students in assessment, University of South Australia, November.Responding to plagiarism: The need to engage with students’ ‘real lives’, Bretag, T., Mahmud, S., East, J., Green, M., James, C., McGowan, U., Partridge, L., Walker, R. & Wallace, M. (2011). Academic Integrity Standards: A Preliminary Analysis of the Academic Integrity Policies at Australian Universities, Australian Universities Quality Forum, 29 June-1 July, Melbourne, Australia. Bretag, T., Mahmud, S., Wallace, M., Walker, R., James, C., Green, M., East, J., McGowan, U. & Partridge, L. (2011). Core elements of exemplary academic integrity policy in Australian higher education, International Journal for Educational Integrity, Vol 7(2), pp. 3-12, available online: Carroll, J. & Appleton, J. (2005). Towards consistent penalty decisions for breaches of academic regulations in one UK university. International Journal for Educational Integrity, 1(1). Retrieved 28 May 2008 from: Devlin, M., & Gray, K. (1995). In their own words: A qualitative study of the reasons Australian university students plagiarize. Higher Education Research & Development, 26(2), James, R., McInnes, C., & Devlin, M. (2002). Assessing learning in Australian universities [Electronic Version]. Retrieved 18 August, 2004 from JISC (2005), Library118, digital image, accessed on 29 August 22, 2012, This image is used with permission under an Attribution- NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Creative Commons License. Park, C. (2003). In other (people’s) words: Plagiarism by university students - literature and lessons. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 28(5), Academic Integrity Standards Project

11 For further information, references and resources from the Academic Integrity Standards Project, please go to: Support for this project/activity has been provided by the Australian Government Office for Learning and Teaching. The views in this project do not necessarily reflect the views of the Australian Government Office for Learning and Teaching. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Australia LicenseCreative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Australia License 11 Academic Integrity Standards Project


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