Academic Integrity – whatever you do, obey the rules



Since I am a graduate student, I have the responsibility to teach undergraduate students and help them with their work. So far, my students have given mostly positive feedbacks, and I have tried my best to reply to their emails as soon as possible, to give them tutorials on the knowledge they should get familiar with to write a good report, and to calm them down when small accidents happen (yes there are risks but generally you are safe in an undergraduate teaching lab). Our job description also includes one important thing: grading. Therefore, we need to go through dozens of reports on the same topic. It is exhausting, and not fun at all. We don’t want to give a hard time on our dear students, so most of the time we try to give marks instead of deducting them. I admit that I am quite lenient, but when I deduct marks, I always give the reason.

It is not one time, but a few times, my colleagues and I spotted that something seems fishy in some students’ reports. Scientific reports are dull, and they should be based on fact and theory, which makes it easier for certain people to find ‘shortcuts’. Copying and pasting some sentences without proper referencing is only Level 1, because a few people are so audacious to copy the whole report from someone else or from online resources.

Although we have heard of academic integrity probably a hundred of times, it seems so far for a lot of students, especially undergraduate students with no need to write long essays or scientific articles. In fact, it is the code of conduct you need to follow whenever you produce academic work. Learning how to reference is the essential skill to master before we go too far. If you find something interesting in other people’s work, you need to refer to the original resource somewhere in your paper as footnote, reference list, or so on. All the term papers and reports have different formats, but the principle is usually this one: showing what you think based on the information you gathered from other resources. Therefore, you need to reference all of them!

Since it is the exam season again, I would like to kindly remind my fellow comrades who struggle in the sea of reviewing – don’t try to cheat, and it is for your own good. A violation would be kept on your academic record forever, and the penalty you would need to pay is much higher than those sentences or numbers you wrote on your exam paper for a few points. Don’t feel that you are lucky today so you bring crib sheets, invigilators can identify you quite easily as you nervously peep around to see if we are watching you.

Being dishonest is like a drug, once you get hooked, it would be much harder to get rid of it. As we are in a society that people are always keeping an eye on you, think twice when you try to play the ‘lucky’ card for something you shouldn’t do.

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