Thursday, May 26, 2022

ECAIP 2022, Day 3

And now to conclude the conference! Unfortunately, I had THREE things booked for today, the conference and two others. Luckily, a friend took over one and I was able to do one via Zoom (having to get up early, as the 8:30 meeting started at 7:30 local time). I was able to use the internet at the Porto university, and then join up with the conference a little later.

Day 1 - Day 2 - Day 3

I missed the keynote by Elisabeth Bik, "The Dark Side of Science: Misconduct in Biomedical Research". I've heard her a number of times, her talks are always fascinating (and scary when you see how much research misconduct she is uncovering - imagine how much more is out there that she does not see.

The next talk I attended was by Thomas Lancaster on "Artificial Intelligence Led Threats To Academic Integrity." He casually demonstrated text generators, even a scientific literature review generator and an image and slide generator. With all of this out there (and used and the papers accepted by predatory publishers) we need to see that there is a big threat to scientific integrity out there for which we have absolutely no idea what to do about it.

Suraj Ajit (University of Northhampton) was to be speaking on "A rule-based decision support system for detecting, reporting, and substantiating contract cheating within assignments in computing courses in UK Higher Education" with an emphasis on computer science assignments. However, he used most of his time to tell us about the processes at his university for dealing with academic misconduct. At an academic integrity conference (as opposed to an introductory course for teacher) one can assume that people know about this. So he didn't have time to actually speak about his work, other than flashing a few decision tables that I didn't have time to read. He has unfortunately not posted his slides on the Sched site for the conference, so I was unable to read them later. 

Rafael Ball (Director of the ETH Library and Collections) then spoke on "Awareness Mentality and Strategic Behaviour in Scientific Publishing and Dissemination." He bemoaned a percieved shift in academic behavior from "being good" to "looking good" in bibliometrics and altmetrics. The awareness mentality deals with the strategic behavior of scientists and publishers: Scientists focus on career building, awarding, funding, while publishers focus on competition, having high rejection rates, and of course high spectacularity. He has noted that more and more article titles are ending with a question mark :) External goals are pre-empting scientific goals. He asks if publishing a translation of a paper is self-plagiarism, or if publishing with a slight shift in focus is an unnecessary second publication? 

Beatriz Antonieta Moya and Alex Paquette (University of Calgary) spoke about "Graduate students' reflections as partners of academic integrity advocacy during Covid-19" (Slides). In the past, grad students were not part of the Academic Integrity Week, but their mentor Sarah Elaine Eaton got them interested. They have a number of things they started like academic integrity trivia quizzes each day on Instagram or live session AMA with Sarah. 

Kelley Packalen (Queen's University) spoke on "What’s the Harm? The Professor Will Never Know: Understanding How Students Justify Participating in the “Grey Areas” of Academic Integrity." She and Kate Rowbotham looked at three research questions:

  1. Under which scenarios do students determine it is permissible to engage in specific trivial and common violations of academic integrity? 
  2. Is there a slippery slope effect as related to violations of academic integrity? 
  3. What explanations do students use to justify violating academic integrity in general?

They determined that there is a slippery slope effect, and deduce the following practical implications that are similar to what is used to discourage students from binge drinking:

  1. Share your thinking with students.
  2. Debunk myths that everyone is cheating.
  3. Reframe the choice as a moral decision instead of a business decision.

Erja Moore closed the session with "Internationalisation of higher education in Finland – A challenge for integrity in academic writing at Master’s level." She chose 28 Finnish Master's theses in English, 1 % of the 2020 Master's theses and 15 % of the master's theses in 2020 and gave them a close read. They varied in length from 23-101 pages, the reference lists were between 2 and 11 pages. She found a lot of problems in the theses: no written methodology, no in-text references, pseudoreferences, invented sources, inappropriate sources, etc. 

The conference closed with a keynote by Teddi Fishman "How we Succeed? Goals, Metrics, and Successes for Academic Integrity Initiatives in a Post-Covid, "PostTruth" World." In order to have some fun, Sonja Bjelobaba inserted random slides into her slide deck. Teddi asked us how we define "success" and in particular if our methods are valid, reliable, attainable and useful. We have to conclude that we are using data that is deeply flawed. We don't know how many students are cheating, we only know what we catch! We are in the post-truth era already (nicely illustrated with a a shop selling "Genuine Fake Watches). She introduced us to the "Overton Window", the idea that leaders are limited to those possibilities that already enjoy popular support. In effect, we have moved from stocks and pillories through shunning and public flogging to restorative justice in many areas. In academic integrity we are stuck in point penalties, revocation of degrees, loss of position or prestege, or demotion. Restorative justice is not quite inside the window yet. A random slide of Teddi in a Flying Spaghetti Monster costume got us off topic a bit, but she steered us back to some food for thought:

  • To what extent have we shown sufficient transparency and accountabilitiy in our research practices so that the public can have faith in our outputs?
  • Students who learn about knowledge production in concert with integrity become researchers with greater appreciation for integrity, who become supervisors of integrity.
  • How do we bring about institutional as well as societal change? From the ground up!   

And then we had the closing ceremony! A large group of (male) medical students in traditional Porto garb and traditional instruments serenaded us and Laura Ribeiro, the organizer of the conference, including some spectacular gymnastics:

The next conference will be in June 2023 in Derby, UK, organized by Shiva Sivasubramaniam under the motto "Reflecting the Past for Reforming the Future".

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