Academic integrity is the moral code or ethical policy of academia. During the late 18th century, academic integrity was tightly correlated with the southern honor code.¹ The southern honor code was focused on duty, pride, power, and self-esteem. Thus, academic integrity was tired directly to status and appearance of upstanding character of the individual.¹ Any acts of dishonesty were a direct assault on a person’s name.
At the end of the 19th century this definition began to change as the goals of universities changed. Professors of this era were required to teach and produce original content.¹ Such a move was important to promote unity through education and encourage students to hold each other accountable for dishonest acts.¹ By the 1970s most schools had established honor codes for their students and a separate honor code for their faculty.¹
There are several factors that are reshaping the notion of academic integrity today.
Technology is the most predominant factor.¹ It has greatly expanded traditional teaching (See Technology in the Classroom). Additionally, it has allowed large amounts of information to be accessible to millions of people simultaneously.¹ Negatively, because of the Internet and the huge access to resources, it may become confusing for students to source hundreds of thousands of sources with no stated authorship. Because of this, academic integrity is now less an individual character assessment and more of a social phenomenon.²
Academic integrity is practiced in the majority of educational institutions and is also being taught in ethics classes and being noted in syllabuses. Additionally, universities have sections on their websites devoted to academic integrity that define what the term means to the specific institution.²
Gary Pavela, Director of Judicial Programs and Student Ethical Development at the University of Maryland quotes that, “Promoting student moral development requires affirming shared values. More colleges are starting to focus on one value that goes to the heart of the academic enterprise: a commitment to honesty and the pursuit of truth."²
1. Tricia Gallant, “Revisiting the Past: The Historical Context of Academic Integrity”. Academic Integrity in the Twenty-First Century. pp. 13-31.
2. Tricia Gallant, “Twenty-First Century Forces Shaping Academic Integrity”. Academic Integrity in the Twenty-First Century. pp. 65-78.