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Academic Integrity in a Cultural Context

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Academic Integrity in a cultural context
What is Academic Integrity in a cultural context?
According to the Oxford School Dictionary & Thesaurus
Academic means something to do with education or studying, especially at a school or college or university. Integrity means telling something that is true. Cultural means the custom and traditions of a people.
Context means the background to an event that helps to explain it.
So we can deduce from these definitions that academic integrity in a cultural context refers to academic honesty as against the background of the customs and tradition of people in an academic world.
Academic Integrity in Nigeria
With three major ethnic group and over 150 sub ethnic group, I daresay Nigeria is a very rich country in terms of culture and diverse in terms of customs and traditions. From time immemorial information has been passed down from generations to generations orally. Words and proverbs were actually not attributed to a singular person but to an ethnic group, for instance, the Yoruba adage, the Igbo adage, the Hausa adage, the Bini adage and so on.
As we advance over the years, we started attributing word or group of words as quotes to an individual and also books were written by individuals. It was in the bid to stop mass reproduction of books that copyright came into been.
During my research on this topic, I found out that most of the research works and journals on academic integrity in Nigeria only focus on cheating, malpractice and fraudulent practices and behaviours by both the student and lecturers alike and none was on plagiarism.
Academic Integrity: Nigeria Factors and Solutions profiled
In Nigeria, It is no longer news that academic dishonesty remains one of the major challenges of our education system (Olasehinde, 2000; Olasehinde-Williams, Abdullahi & Owolabi, 2003).
I argue that the current academic integrity crisis in the Nigerian educational system is “contributing to a downward spiral in academic standards, and in particular…to decreasing literacy among Nigerian students.
This topic is really an eye opener for me in the sense that I remembered when I was doing my project back then in 2000 and my lecturer made sure that I was reading other research works, putting down my thoughts and citing materials accessed. In actual fact I wanted to change topic and supervisor then because some of my mates were actually copying verbatim other people’s work. The rot in our education system has been on for long but it is now reaching an alarming and frightening proportion that calls for caution and solutions to academic dishonesty and I believe that much more has to be done on the cultural side to educate student on ethics and academic integrity (Gossman et al 2006).

To be candid this is the first time I am hearing of plagiarism and that it is an academic offence and I believe most Nigerian student too might have never heard of the word (I asked my brother who has just concluded his university education and he says he has never heard of d word before) except those who had their academic education abroad or those of us involve in online or distance learning; funny enough I asked my husband who is on a distance learning course and a colleague who studied abroad and they are aware of plagiarism.
There is need for more training on scholarly academic writing for Nigerian students to help them understand the need to write and cite/reference appropriately and also to acquire the relevant skills particularly needed in summarizing and paraphrasing contents which will help them avoid plagiarism. Teaching and learning approaches need to be tailored to enable these students develop their understanding, knowledge and skills of academic writing
Students should be trained to understand what plagiarism is and how it is detected, why it should not be practiced and the consequences not only in terms of academic achievements but also as a foundation for future personal business ethics. Training on all the aspect of plagiarism, what it is, how does it work, how it is detected, how to avoid it, Specific training on referencing rules and practices (such as Harvard referencing rules) should be carried out in our universities.
.
The need for Nigerian universities to initiate academic integrity can therefore, not be overemphasize especially considering the degree to which the problem of academic dishonesty has lessened the credibility of degrees from the nation’s universities in recent years.
What is Plagiarism?
Plagiarism as I now understand it is the complete copy and paste or using verbatim another person research work without proper reference, citation or credit to the owner of the research.
During my days in the university and up until now, plagiarisms is been practice without recourse to it as an offence in Nigeria, because we still mostly use other research and work paper without proper reference or citation of the material which further buttresses my points that plagiarism is not a major academic dishonesty in my beloved country. We do not have a prior knowledge of proper academic writing, citation and referencing. This inadequate knowledge of these three elements makes us commit plagiarism without even knowing it. As Richard L. Johannesen states “Plagiarism as unethical is not a universal, invariable, culture-free principle.”
Internet and the global village
The world is now a global village where information and communication happens at the speed of light. With advancement in technology and the internet which allows information to be readily available and easily accessible, people believed that availability and accessibility of information and research works makes it free for use thereby disregarding the hard work of the researcher by not making proper reference to their works and or research thereby committing plagiarism.
The more references made to the internet when we need to make research or garner information that is used for academic or research work, the more we commit plagiarism if we do not make proper citation and reference to those information and research works. Therefore plagiarism is a concept that has existed for a very long time. It is said to be an academic problem that has come to stay (Paldy 1996) is growing (Park 2003) and appears to be defying several attempts at mitigating its’ occurrence (Sutherland-Smith 2010) in higher education Institutions.
Academic Integrity cum Organizational Integrity
In my organization i have seen some works with proper citation and reference and some without. I feel we should incorporate academic honesty in our organization in that if reference is made to other's research you are indeed acknowledging their hard work, even if your research agrees with or mitigate theirs.
Standard of conducts and integrity issues arising in my organization is now being given the utmost attention and concerns it requires. It is very important and essential to apply academic integrity in an organization in order to maintain utmost integrity, work morals, principle and professionalism among the staff.
I would say the presumptions holds true for me as me as an employee of my organization in that most of the jobs and researches I have done recently had gone without citation and or referencing and no penalty was given to me on those researches. So I will say I am indeed guilty of academic integrity.

This assignment has made me aware of how to conduct myself at my workplace. It has also prompted me to keep in mind the rules on citation and referencing when providing research and reference on specific materials to avoid Plagiarism and academic dishonesty.

Honing the citation and referencing skills
I plan to make sure that I do not commit academic dishonesty by performing the following steps stated below * Adequate citation and referencing of research materials * Acknowledging properly the quotation of phrases from other people's work; * Appropriate and correctly presented acknowledgement and citation when paraphrasing of another’s work * Not copying people's research or work verbatim that is word for word and text for text Turnitin: Plagiarism checker
Turnitin is anti-plagiarism software that uses the notion of text matching to determine the level of other peoples work or research contained in your own assignment or research. Based on its originality report, it allows you to either remove or rephrase your sentences and enable you to do proper citing and referencing by showing or giving a guide to what work or research that is contained in your work or research and provide site or reference to materials used. It helps us ascertain that to a certain level, the originality of your work remains intact.

References:
Bowden, D. (1996) ‘Coming to terms: plagiarism,’ English Journal, 85(4), pg. 82-84, ProQuest Central [Online]. DOI: 9477482 (Accessed: 9 March 2009).
Jeremy B. Williams. “The plagiarism problem: Are students entirely to blame?” Available from http://www.ascilite.org.au/conferences/auckland02/proceedings/papers/189.pdf
Love, P. & Simmons, J. (1998). “Factors influencing plagiarism and cheating among graduate students in a College of education”. College Student Journal, 32(4), 539-550.
McCabe, D., Trevino, L., & Butterfield, K. (1999, March-April). “Academic integrity in honor code and non-honor code environments: a qualitative investigation” Journal of Higher Education, 70 (2), 211–234.
Olabisi Olasehinde-Williams(2006). “Instituting academic integrity in Nigerian universities: psychological perspectives of morality and motivation,” The journal of sociology and education in Africa, 4(2), pg 153-165. Available from http://www.unilorin.edu.ng/publications/olasehindeow/16%20OLASEHINDE-WILLIAMS.pdf (Accessed: December 14, 2013)

Paldy, L. G. (1996) ‘The problem that won’t go away: addressing the causes of cheating’. Journal of College Science Teaching, 26 (1), pp. 4–6.
Park, C. (2003) 'In Other (People's) Words: Plagiarism by University Students-Literature and Lessons'. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education 28 (5), 471-488
Robert Allen (2007) Oxford School Dictionary & Thesaurus. Oxford University Press (Hardback ISBN 978-0-19-911536-5)
Sutherland-Smith, W. (2010) 'Retribution, Deterrence and Reform: The Dilemmas of Plagiarism Management in Universities'. Journal of Higher Education Policy & Management 32 (1), 5-16.
Tracey Bretag (2008) “Educational Integrity: Creating a Culture of Integrity” The International Journal for Educational Integrity 4(1), 1-2.
Available from http://www.ojs.unisa.edu.au/index.php/IJEI/article/view/195/149 (Accessed: December 14, 2013)
Turner, S.P. & Beemsterboer, P.L., 2003, ‘Enhancing academic integrity: Formulating effective honor codes’,Journal of Dental Education, 67(10), 1122–1129. PMid:14587677
The University of Liverpool (n.d.) Guide to referencing and developing a bibliography [Online]. Available from: http://www.liv.ac.uk/library/ohecampus/referencing/referencing.htm (Accessed: 15 June 2010).
The University of Liverpool (n.d.) Study support: what you need to know about plagiarism [Online]. Available from http://www.liv.ac.uk/library/ohecampus/study/plagiarism.htm (Accessed: 15 June 2010).
The University of Liverpool (2013) Code of Practice on Assessment Appendix L - Academic Integrity Policy [Online]. Available from http://www.liv.ac.uk/media/livacuk/tqsd/code-of-practice-on-assessment/appendix_L_cop_assess.pdf (Accessed: 16 September 2013).
The University of Liverpool (2013) Academic Integrity Policy: Guidelines for Students and Staff [Online]. Available from http://www.liv.ac.uk/media/livacuk/tqsd/code-of-practice-on-assessment/appendix_L_cop_assess_annex1.pdf (Accessed: 16 September 2013).…...

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