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“You plagiarised your supervisor” Stevenson thesis (de Vries Hoogerwerff 2008)

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Presentation on theme: "“You plagiarised your supervisor” Stevenson thesis (de Vries Hoogerwerff 2008)"— Presentation transcript:

1 “You plagiarised your supervisor” Stevenson thesis (de Vries Hoogerwerff 2008)

2 Overview Title of case: Honours Thesis Assessment: “You plagiarised your supervisor” Target audience: Senior academic staff, Research supervisors, Academic staff developers Key issue being addressed: The potential for misunderstanding in what needs to be referenced in assessment Materials and preparation needed to answer case: Access to policy and academic integrity resources at own institution Academic Integrity Standards Project

3 Purpose of case study To assist academic staff in identifying what is deemed to be ‘common knowledge’ within a discipline and what is required to be acknowledged in a research assignment. To discuss the relationship between academic integrity and academic literacy development, particularly in courses where relatively little writing is required. 3 Academic Integrity Standards Project

4 Our research Survey: 15,304 student respondents from 6 Australian universities 31.8% did not agree or were unsure in response to the statement: The support and training I have received to avoid academic integrity breaches at my university is sufficient Student comment from survey: I have a sound knowledge and understanding in relation to referencing but this was only picked up over time. Over my four years at [this university] I have always been unsure whether I am satisfactorily meeting the academic integrity policy with my work, but I have never received any breaches. 4 Academic Integrity Standards Project

5 Misunderstanding or plagiarism? While plagiarism by students who deliberately set out to deceive the assessor clearly equates with cheating or fraud, and while fostering honesty, ethical behaviour and professional attitudes is integral to the learning goals set out by universities, there is also an increasing awareness that much of the identified plagiarism may be the result of students’ inadequate understanding of the procedures, and indeed the reasons for the academic requirements. (McGowan 2010, p483) Academic Integrity Standards Project

6 Van is a near-native speaker of English. He has just completed his Honours year in Engineering. Coursework assessments required applications of existing methodologies and formulae. Assignment focus has been on problems and solutions expressed in short paragraphs, annotated diagrams and mathematical symbols. Van’s final assessment is a 50-page dissertation which requires demonstration of a higher level of creative problem-solving. 6 Academic Integrity Standards Project Case Study: Van

7 Honours Thesis in Engineering All students at this level are assigned a supervisor to guide them and to provide formative feedback on the content and the structure of their writing. The thesis requires:  an introduction to explain the problem posed and the process by which it is to be solved; and  a creative solution in text which relies increasingly on the use of symbols and formulae - the communication method in which Van is more at home than in the writing of extended prose. 7 Academic Integrity Standards Project

8 “You’ve plagiarised your supervisor” Van had been an exceptionally bright student His thesis impresses his first examiner with the elegance of his method and solution. But his second examiner notes a slight change in style within the introductory pages. She googles a key phrase from this section, and discovers that Van’s chosen method has close similarities with a published method. She further notes that the author of the publication is none other than his own supervisor. 8 Academic Integrity Standards Project

9 Academic integrity breach investigation Academic Integrity Breach Decision Maker is an engineer who finds that :  the methodology is in fact based on an approach developed and published by his supervisor;  but Van’s adaptation and solution are quite creative, as required for the assessment. Academic Integrity Standards Project

10 Academic integrity breach investigation Van is called to an initial meeting which is mandatory following a suspected plagiarism incident He asserts that he had not cheated, and explains that:  he was unaware that he needed to reference his supervisor’s method;  he had quite openly used his supervisor’s method as the starting point for his adaptation. Academic Integrity Standards Project

11 Academic integrity breach investigation In the meantime: the first examiner has put the thesis through text- matching software; throughout the thesis, Van’s text matches have been found to include: - a large number of phrases and - some complete sentences. Academic Integrity Standards Project

12 Questions for discussion What in your view would be an appropriate outcome for Van? What position might the supervisor take in this situation? What position might the Academic Integrity Breach Decision Maker take? What aspect of your university’s policy would you refer to in response to this situation? Does your Academic Integrity policy give prominence to assessment principles or refer to an Assessment Policy? Do these policies link Academic Integrity to academic writing, feedback and curriculum design? 12 Academic Integrity Standards Project

13 References and resources 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: Bretag et al (under review) ‘Teach us how to do it properly!’ An Australian academic integrity student survey, paper submitted to Studies in Higher Education, April de Vries Hoogerwerff, M (2008). Stevenson thesis, digital image, accessed on 29 August 2012, This image is used with permission under Attribution- ShareAlike 2.0 Creative Commons License. Hattie, J. and Timperley, H. (2007) 'The Power of Feedback'. Review of educational research 77 (1), 81–112 McGowan, U. (2010) Re-defining academic teaching in terms of research apprenticeship. In M. Devlin, J. Nagy and A. Lichtenberg (Eds.) Research and Development in Higher Education: Reshaping Education, 33 (pp ) Ireland, C & English, J (2011) Let Them Plagiarise: Developing Academic Writing in a Safe Environment, Journal of Academic Writing 1(1) pp McGowan, U. (2010) Re-defining academic teaching in terms of research apprenticeship. In M. Devlin, J. Nagy and A. Lichtenberg (Eds.) Research and Development in Higher Education: Reshaping Education, 33 (pp ) 13 Academic Integrity Standards Project

14 For further 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 14 Academic Integrity Standards Project


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