1.2 Why is Academic Integrity and Honesty Important?

Now that I know what academic integrity is, can you explain to me why it is important for students to understand?

A person who has integrity is someone who is honest and trustworthy. For students, your personal morals and values reflect your character and credibility. At university, maintaining academic integrity while earning your degree represents your true academic accomplishments.

Students with integrity will work hard to earn their degrees in a fair and honest way by putting in the hours to study and complete assignments. When a student intentionally cheats through university, this integrity is compromised and the value of the degree and the morals of the individual are diminished. This lack of credibility then follows you into the workforce and can impact your professional goals. Nobody wants a doctor who cheated to get his medical degree to perform a life or death surgery on them or a bad engineer to build bridges.

Many studies have found that people who engage in academically dishonest practices in school are significantly more likely to be dishonest, cheat, or even commit crimes like fraud or stealing in the workplace (Crittenden, Hanna & Peterson, 2009, p.339; Sims, 1993; Nonis and Swift, 2001; Lawson, 2004; Harding, Carpenter, Finelli, et al., 2004; Preiss, 2013).

Why does UOIT care so much about Academic Integrity? They don't really care what I do after I graduate!

All universities are only as strong as their reputation. UOIT is a relatively new university and it is building its reputation in both teaching and research. The university's credibility is reflected in both the students who graduate with a degree from UOIT and in the researchers at the university. If the university graduates students who have not truly earned their degrees, and it gains a bad reputation for its graduates, all graduates and their instructors will have reduced credibility. Graduating students looking for jobs or entrance into graduate school or law school may be prevented from achieving their goals; faculty members applying for research grants or submitting research for publication may not be successful. The negative impact of cheating in any form has ripple effects beyond the immediate consequences.

Can you give me an example?

Academic integrity is important within the university and in the professional world. For example, in 2015, two Toronto doctors, Sylvia Asa and Shereen Ezzat, were forced to retract a scientific paper from the American Journal of Pathology due to allegations of falsification (Ezzat, Zheng, Zhu, Wu & Asa, 2015). This will be their second article which has been retracted after concerns of falsification (Robinson, 2015). Dr. Asa's name was also on a paper containing falsified images, which were changed only after concerns were raised by readers (Robinson, 2015). The findings reported in the two articles are being reviewed to determine if they are valid and reproducible (Robinson, 2015). Although only one of the two doctors may have intentionally or unintentionally falsified their research, both would be at fault because both of their names are on the paper. The impact of the allegation goes beyond the retraction. Dr. Asa resigned as head of pathology, a title she held for over a decade where in the last year she made over $430,000 (Robinson, 2015). The effect of these types of allegations can negatively impact the credibility of all researchers.

Allegations of academic misconduct can also catch up with years after graduation from university or college. For example, in 2013 Chris Spence was forced to resign as the director of education for the Toronto District School Board after he was caught plagiarizing parts of several opinion-editorial articles published in a Toronto newspaper. Subsequently, he was also found to have plagiarized parts of his doctoral thesis which was completed in 1996. While no decision has been made yet regarding this allegation, Spence risks having his degree revoked. He now must work to restore his reputation in order to find new work. Academic misconduct is a serious offence which may affect not only your university career, but also your professional career. As seen within this example, those who engage in academic misconduct have been found to be more likely to be dishonest in the workplace (Crittenden, Hanna & Peterson, 2009). Careful attention to academic integrity while studying at university increases credibility and better prepares students for the workplace.



Ezzat, S., Zheng, L., Zhu, X.-F., Wu, G. E., & Asa, S. L. (2015). Targeted expression of a human pituitary tumor-derived isoform of FGF receptor-4 recapitulates pituitary tumorigenesis. Journal of Clinical Investigation, 125(8), 3303. Retrieved from http://go.galegroup.com.uproxy.library.dc-uoit.ca/ps/i.do?id=GALE%7CA428177084&sid=summon&v=2.1&u=ko_acd_uoo&it=r&p=AONE&sw=w&asid=73209244d698ac2c0a334b76b901e0be

Fox, C. (2014, June 11). Former TDSB director Spence will fight plagiarism charges, his lawyer says. The Huffington Post. Retrieved from: http://www.cp24.com/news/former-tdsb-director-spence-will-fight-plagiarism-charges-his-lawyer-says-1.1863737

Jones, A. (2013, January 10). Chris Spence Quits After Plagiarism Admission. The Huffington Post. Retrieved from: http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2013/01/10/chris-spence-quits-plagiarism-resigns_n_2450504.html

Robinson, M. (2015, August 4). Third retraction for Toronto doctor due. The Toronto Star. Retrieved from: http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2015/08/04/third-retraction-for-toronto-doctor-duo.html

Robinson, M. (2015, July 27). Top University Health Network doctor steps down amid falsification data investigation. The Toronto Star. Retrieved from: http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2015/07/27/top-university-health-network-doctor-steps-down-amid-falsified-data-investigation.html


As a society, we rely on the academic and journalistic integrity of other people's work. The whole point of academic research is to share knowledge with others and learn from one another. Since knowledge and ideas are the primary product produced by academic communities, it is essential that this knowledge is accurate and gives credit to those who created it. As a student, you are part of the academic community.

Besides reputation and credibility, why else should I care about academic integrity?

Academic dishonesty impedes a student's learning by belittling the meaning of a higher education. A degree at UOIT reflects the genuine accomplishments of every student. When individuals use falsification, misrepresentation, and deception to earn their degree, it devalues the degrees of the students who worked with integrity despite the stressful burden of school and life. You cannot truly gain the full worth of your education by not working for it fairly.



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