As future teachers and role models to the children of South Africa, one has a responsibility to engage in ethical and professional behaviour and ensure that one always submits original work free of any irregularities (Ferreira-Prévost, 2022, p. 1). Academic integrity can be defined as a commitment to six fundamental values of honesty, trustworthiness, fairness, respect, responsibility, and courage in learning, teaching, and research (ICAI, 2021). Therefore, plagiarism in Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) should be considered a severe transgression. This blog will focus on the importance of academic integrity in HEIs. Firstly, academic integrity will be discussed; secondly, academic dishonesty; thirdly, the consequences of plagiarism on student success and lastly, educators’ ethical behaviour.
Academic integrity is important for students, teachers, researchers, and all staff to act honestly, be responsible for their actions, and show fairness in every aspect of their work (ICAI, 2021). Therefore, it means making ethical decisions, asking questions, and following instructions – even when faced with difficult situations. For example, at tertiary institutions, like SANTS Private Higher Education Institution (SANTS), students can adhere to academic integrity by submitting their own assessments based on their own work and original ideas and giving proper recognition to other sources through correct referencing.
In contrast, academic misconduct (also called academic dishonesty) involves behaviours contrary to academic integrity, most notably plagiarism. Plagiarism is using others’ original ideas in one’s written or spoken work without acknowledging them (Coetzee & Van Dyk, p. 2010). It includes but is not limited to, including someone else’s words, ideas, or data as one’s own work. For example, at tertiary institutions, like SANTS, students can unintentionally be guilty of plagiarism when they copy sources without acknowledgement copy from another student, or allow another student to copy their work, buy a piece of writing and pass it off as their own, or if you pay someone to do the writing on your behalf. Students can also unintentionally be guilty of plagiarism if, for example, they ineffectively paraphrase someone else’s thoughts or ideas or use parts of someone’s writing in their own work without remembering to reference the original source.
Consequences of plagiarism:
Academic misconduct is a severe transgression that may detrimentally impact your results and future academic career. According to the Assessment Policy and Procedures (2021, p. 19), SANTS considers plagiarism as a form of dishonesty. Therefore, the Academic Department, through its lecturers, is the first to identify and address cases of plagiarism. However, if the plagiarism identified is deemed severe, such a case is referred to the Assessment and Student Affairs Committee (ASAC). The ASAC’s outcome could ultimately lead to penalties. For example, in extreme cases, a student could be expelled from tertiary institutions like SANTS.
Teachers should demonstrate ethical behaviour:
Ferreira-Prévost, J. (2022). Correspondence. 16 February, Pretoria.
International Center for Academic Integrity (ICAI). (2021). Fundamental values. Available online at: https://academicintegrity.org/resources/fundamental-values [accessed, 12 May 2022].
SANTS Private Higher Education Institution. (2021). Assessment Policy and Procedures. Pretoria: In-house publication.
Van Dyk, D. & Coetzee, M. (2010). Make sense of referencing. Stellenbosch: Stellenbosch University Language Centre.
Author: JC Rademeyer
Lecturer: BEd Foundation Phase