11 July 2012

The University of South Australia’s Dr Tracey Bretag, with colleague Dr Saadia Mahmud, and a team from Griffith University and the Queensland Institute of Business, has secured almost $300,000 from the Office for Learning and Teaching (OLT) to embed aspects of exemplary academic integrity policy across the Australian Higher Education sector.

Dr Bretag’s previous Australian Learning and Teaching Council (ALTC) funded research identified five core elements of exemplary academic integrity policy. These include access, approach, responsibility, support and detail. Following extensive research including the largest national survey of students in Australia on academic integrity issues, Dr Bretag’s ALTC team identified that these important aspects together build strength in policy.

“Policy needs to be underpinned by a genuine and sustained institutional commitment to building a culture of integrity,” Dr Bretag said. “Policies need to be accessible, easy to read, well written, clear, logical and downloadable with relevant links.

“Academic integrity should be viewed as an educative process and that needs to be explained clearly and consistently throughout the policy.

“Responsibilities also need to be clearly articulated in the policy – so policies should define the responsibilities of all stakeholders, including academic and professional staff, management, and students around matters of academic integrity.”

Finally she says it is vital to provide the right supports for policy implementation and the detail to identify, describe and respond to breaches of academic integrity.

The new 12 month OLT funded project will extend the lessons learned from the ALTC research to develop policy and support frameworks for identified student groups including: International English as an Additional Language (EAL) students, educationally ‘less prepared’ students, and postgraduate research students.  The inclusion of a private provider (QIBT) will ensure that best practice is disseminated to the broader higher education sector.

 Dr Bretag will be in the UK this month to deliver a keynote address at the 5th International Plagiarism Conference and present findings from her decade-long research into plagiarism, academic integrity and the development of best practice in the university sector.

“Ultimately we are moving beyond a dated understanding of academic misconduct as a student issue”, she says.

“What we now understand is that institutions can support the development of a culture of integrity if they build the policies to support that and encourage education around the issues for both students and staff.”

Michèle Nardelli office: 08 8302 0966 mobile: 0418 823 673 email: michele.nardelli@unisa.edu.au

Other articles you may be interested in