Girl Copying From TextPlagiarism
Academic Integrity

What’s it all about?
Online Tutorial to Debut in Fall of 2007

By Margaret Cohen

Having academic integrity means that you adhere to an agreed set of values common to the Boston College academic community. The values are based on the concepts of being honest and responsible in scholarship especially with respect to the intellectual efforts of others and yourself. You don’t take someone else’s work and claim it for your own! Not only are you expected to be honest in your formal coursework situations, but also apply honesty to the use of University resources.

While students, faculty and staff of Boston College assume the responsibility of maintaining and furthering these values, a group of faculty, university libraries staff and staff from the Connors Family Learning Center were appointed to a task force a year ago with the goal of making academic integrity a central part of the student culture at Boston College.

The work of the Task Force resulted in an online tutorial aimed at instructing students in the effective and responsible use of research information. The tutorial will begin its pilot period on campus in the Fall of 2007.  Once previewed and tested with students it is expected the tutorial will be a requirement for incoming first year students.

How was the tutorial created? Faculty from various disciplines provided examples and subject specific cases that were helpful in the development of the content.  When the student focus group met, students offered suggestions on how the tutorial should look and feel. The tutorial incorporates both videos and photographs to enhance its visual appeal. 

The student focus group also included the student’s thoughts on how to best help other students with the issue of academic integrity.  The student group stated that students often do not realize that violations of academic integrity include more than cheating and that we need to educate students about the databases offered through the University Libraries because some students think everything is available on the Internet. Focus group students also felt that the tutorial should stress the possibility of approaching a professor for help when needed.  As one student suggested “tell students if they’re in a real bind and are tempted to cheat, they should come and talk to the teacher.”

The one hour tutorial begins with an introduction of academic integrity as a cornerstone of good scholarship and helping students understand the basic rules.  Continuing through the tutorial, students will understand the proper way to cite and acknowledge sources with a focus on careful note-taking, paraphrasing and quoting.  Next, students will address the ethics of collaborative work and research as well as how to plan for research.  The use of scholarly resources is explained and highlighted.  Lastly, the tutorial provides links for future reference. 

This tutorial strives to give incoming BC students a very clear idea about what academic integrity is, how it relates to the work they will be doing at BC, and how, the better they understand the integrity issue, the more closely they will be entering an exciting intellectual conversation during their time at BC.  

Margaret CohenMargaret Cohen is the Head Librarian for the Educational Resources Center


Photo: Stephen Vedder