Going abroad for higher studies is an overwhelming process. Leaving your home behind and flying to a foreign land changes every single thing in your life. Right from the way of living to the way of studying and learning, the life of a student evolves. There are certain things that students who plan to study abroad must keep in mind. The most important among them is Academic Integrity.
At primary education level, though we never got caught copying our classmate’s projects and assignments, inculcating this habit can have severe consequences in a foreign university. Universities across the world are absolutely uncompromising about maintaining their academic integrity.
If you are someone who has been admissioned into a foreign university or plans on studying abroad, you must understand the importance of academic integrity thoroughly. Since many are unfamiliar with the term ‘Academic Integrity’, let us first understand what that means.
Simply put, Academic integrity is the practice of carrying out your academic studies ethically and morally without undertaking unfair means for the purpose of scoring good grades. To maintain complete academic integrity, students must just strive to accomplish the habit of creative thinking and critical thinking.
When a student deviates from this, he ends up violating the academic integrity of a university. Academic dishonesty is a crucial matter of concern for every university. There are various forms of academic dishonesty that students must stay away from.
One of the most prominent forms of academic dishonesty is plagiarism. Plagiarism is the act of copying someone else’s project/assignment or picking up content from external sources which aren’t your own, and submitting it to the faculty as yours. This, though might seem normal to you, has harsh consequences.
Plagiarism includes copying complete material, patchwriting, forgetting or failing to cite references, and failing to quote and give credits. Most of the time, it may so happen that you won’t realise you have plagiarised content. It is thus always better to cite references and give complete credits for the content you choose to use in your assignments.
There are multiple reasons why students take to plagiarising content. One of the most obvious reasons is laziness. If a particular deadline for an assignment is given, students end up rushing to complete it at the end moment. In order to meet the deadline, they pick up content from various sources instead of working on it firsthand. The second reason, which also happens to be a major reason why plagiarism occurs is the lack of command over the language. Many fret working on their assignments due to weak linguistic skills. The third reason is to create a good impression of yourself in the eyes of the faculty. So students take the help of smart classmates to help them or do their complete assignments. This is outright unethical.
Plagiarism also occurs due to academic pressure. Foreign university courses are assignment and projects intensive. This creates a lot of pressure on the students to complete the assignments on time. The pressure leads to students taking the help of external sources.
Moreover, cultural differences too lead to taking plagiarism lightly. What might be an acceptable norm in one country and be morally unethical in another. Here, in your country, you might ask your friend to do an assignment for you thus asking him/her to share your load, however, this is accounted as academic dishonesty in foreign universities.
Not just plagiarism, but intellectual theft too is considered as academic dishonesty. You cannot take ideas from your classmates or google ideas for your project. This too is wrong. You must practise self-policing in order to stay away from intellectual theft. University is a place where the open exchange of thoughts, ideas and learnings must take. However, this must not be misused. Learn to think creatively and come up with ideas of your own. The original your ideas, the better you score.
Universities have a sound system in place to check plagiarised content. Faculties use various software that check the work of students for plagiarism. Moreover, professors also understand and recognise the student’s style of working and writing. If you end up copying someone else’s work, they’ll know by the change in tone and style of writing.
If your work is found to be plagiarised, you will be subjected to severe punishments that are capable of ruining your career plans. Some of the most common punishments are :
- Reduction in scores/grades
- Student made to appear before a committee
- Failing in an assignment
In order to steer clear of plagiarism, you must have a proper strategy to maintain academic integrity. Here are some ways to go about it:
- Attend the orientation meeting which the university conducts at the start of the course. Make sure you make a note of the important things said during this meeting and strictly adhere to it.
- Use library sources, attend workshops and tutorials that will help you understand the studying pattern of the university.
- Consult and seek help on professors, writing centres, and teaching assistants if you get stuck somewhere
- Manage your time efficiently. Make a timetable and follow it so that you won’t have to do any end-moment work.
- Make sure you study stress-free and practice mental well being. Since there are many foreign students studying in a university, the university provides its students with facilities like support groups and counselling that ensure the students are mentally healthy. Take the help of these.
Academic integrity is of prime importance irrespective of where and what you study. By engaging in academic dishonesty, you are not just sending invitations to various risks and problems but are also dissolving the entire purpose of going abroad to study which is learning, growing and developing as an individual.