Friday, 11 June 2021

8 types of academic dishonesty

There are a number of different types of academic dishonesty that I have encountered. And while this is not an exhaustive list, I thought I would have a go at detailing each one of they eight key types I find in my work. They are:

  • Contract dishonesty (aka commissioning/soliciting): contracting an individual to write our assessment for us. This tends to be unpaid (helping out a friend), for a return favour (I write your ethics paper for you; you write my statistics paper for me), or a small fee. 
    Tactic: this is a hard one, and I think often goes undetected. Authorship modules in plagiarism software help to address this, but are not yet good enough

  • Papermills (aka commissioning): sign up, set the parameters and get the paper written by someone to our specification, within a certain time-frame, with a guarantee of passing ('no foal, no fee', so to speak)
    Tactic: make the assessment so developmental that when we submit the final assessment, it is (a) not aligned with the learning outcomes so is an outright fail, and (b) the small assignments are so obviously a different student 'voice', that an academic dishonesty case can easily be made and upheld

  • Plagiarism: this is where plagiarism software shows a high similarity score indicating that a lot of material has been copied from other sources and not properly attributed, quoted, nor paraphrased. Sometimes may be properly attributed, so an 'honest' plagiariser. This section includes some sub-types:
    • Ctrl & C: Straight copy and paste from others without appropriate attribution (TurnItIn, 2016)
    • Find & Replace: a straight copy and paste but with a number of key words changed out, and insufficient attribution (TurnItIn, 2016)
    • Self-plagiarism: copying our own earlier assignment work without appropriate attribution (also see multiple submission; TurnItIn, 2016)
Tactic: require all of us to have completed referencing training, and set rules for similarity score limits with serious consequences; from zero grades to expulsion. 
  • Spinbot: Similar to Find & Replace, but putting an author's original words through a spinbot to mash up the text, to save us the effort of having rewritten it. This is often done with foreign language papers
    Tactic: often not a problem as the results are likely to be gobbledygook, and obvious

  • Falsifying results: creating whole or partial data sets to better align with the results required for a project (as "false data", University of Virginia, 2021). 
    Tactic: good supervision, frequent checks, discussion about transparency in reporting being more important than answering the research question

  • Technical plagiarism: where an attempt has been made to 'fool' plagiarism software by placement of 1 point sized white font quotation marks in an attempt to have the software exclude entire paragraphs of text as quotations; while on the surface the work appears to be the our own words.
    Tactic is easy: (a) require that we submit Word documents, and (b) highlight the entire submitted file, and change the font colour to black. Take a case to the Academic Committee if found as this is fraud

  • False citations: where citations and references are entirely made up to give work a superficial academic writing veneer.
    Tactic: audit 10% of the citations, and 10% of the reference list. Then take a case to the Academic Committee as this is fraud

  • Misattributed citations: where real authors are cited, but who did not say what we are claiming the authors said
    Tactic: audit 10% of the citations, and 10% of the reference list. Then take a case to the Academic Committee if a pattern of dishonesty appears

  • Multiple submissions: recycling assignments submitted for credit on other courses, so reducing the amount of course work required to be delivered for the qualification. The same assessment cannot be recycled for different credit (University of Virginia, 2021).
    Tactic: make it clear to students that assessments cannot be resubmitted

This is a horrible list. It is also horrible and draining to find these. And it is horrible, draining and demeaning to have to deal with the aftermath.



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