[I wanted to blog directly from the Sixth International Integrity and Plagiarism Conference in Newcastle, but Google cooked up a cool new idea to try and force me to give them my telephone number. Since I was logging in from a different location and a different computer (duh), I needed to give them my telephone number in order to get at my account. I could not reset the password until 3 days after I last logged in. I have one account for email (which I had just checked before) and one for blogging that I wanted to switch to. It took an email to Google to get me to a place where I could say: yes, that was me, which is what I would say if I was breaking in, too.]
Day 1: Starting out
The pre-conference workshop was about creating a plagiarism policy.
- Randa Al-Chidiac, from the Holy Spirit University of Kaslik, Lebanon, is a librarian who spoke about instituting a plagiarism policy at a school that does not currently have one. She made it clear that it is vital to have upper management be committed to the project. A school needs to define for itself what is acceptable academic practice and what sorts of sanctions they plan on meting out. The process has to be understandable, transparent and fair. She suggests that the libraries take charge of the situation, as they are publishing the theses that are potentially found to contain plagiarism. They need to speak with faculty, and develop flow charts for faculty to follow. Only as a last step should technology be introduced.
- Loc Pham Quoc, from the Hoa Sen University in Hồ Chí Minh City, Vietnam is the dean of the Faculty of Languages and Cultural Studies. The university was the first one in Vietnam to take action for promoting academic integrity, so they were able to get media interest aroused. He set up a club called FACE (For A Clean Education) and has involved the students (and their parents and potential employers) in many activities from public discussions to designing posters for promoting academic integrity to training 20 students as communicators that help their fellow students understand how to avoid plagiarism. He noted that plagiarism is NOT rooted in culture, as the dominant culture can change. Vietnam has had many cultures: Chinese, French, American. And now they are beginning to take action to promote a culture of good academic practices.
- Wole Morenikeji, from the Federal University of Technology, Minna, Nigeria, spoke about the program instituted at his university. They appear to rely on plagiarism detection software and have rules about the “amount” of “similarity” that can be tolerated. This sparked quite a debate about the (mis-)use of these numbers generated from plagiarism detection software for the purpose of sanctioning.
- After lunch two people from Turnitin spoke, and rather repeated what Randa Al-Chidiac said, so there is no need to repeat it here. Then there was a discussion panel that brought up some important points. Accreditation boards have actually made universities change rulings that they have previously made in academic integrity cases. And one vice-chancellor from Afrika noted that his university does not have Internet, because they do not have stable electricity. His students write their papers with their mobile phones, but the teachers have no Internet for checking them. He is currently installing solar panels in the hopes of soon being able to have 24/7 Internet available.
- The first keynote was from Adrian Slater who was discussing collaboration and group work and plagiarism. He tried an exercise to get the room active, and people did participate, but since there was no time to really discuss the issues and there were so many questions to look at, the whole session remains a muddle in my mind.
- After a nice reception a group broke out to go to a local bar that is on the sixth floor and completely in glass. We had a marvelous view of the Tyne and the town while having a beer and discussing paper mills and ghostwriting. There was not a lot in the way of solutions found, but it was good to commiserate and to hear that others are also grappling with this problem for which there is no software-based solution.