This week and next, many of us around the world celebrate holidays, as well as several endings and beginnings, most notably the ending of 2018 and the beginning of 2019. In honor of these celebrations (and hopefully some time off!), the Integrity Matters Blog will be on hiatus this week and next. We will return with a new post on January 7th, 2019.

I did, however, want to take this moment to thank you for reading the first term of ICAI's Integrity Matters Blog. The Blog is part of the new ICAI, which is an independent non-profit organization dedicated to cultivating academic integrity cultures around the world. The goal of Integrity Matters is to advance this mission by stimulating conversations and advancing our collective knowledge of all aspects of academic integrity and culture cultivation. So, as a reminder, I welcome adding your voice to the Blog! Consider submitting a piece in the new year so we can share your knowledge and experience, and/or spotlight your program or educational institution for the benefit of others.

It is my fervent hope that Integrity Matters continues to add value to your life, whether you are a student, integrity practitioner, teacher, researcher, parent, employer, politician, or anyone else who cares about the integrity and quality of the world's educational credentials as well as our shared goal to graduate ethical citizens and professionals.

So,  thank you once again for your support of Integrity Matters. And if you are not yet a member of ICAI, consider joining ICAI in 2019, either as an individual or institution. Your membership will support this blog and all of the work that ICAI does to cultivate academic integrity cultures around the world. With your help, we can ensure that #integritymatters in all schools, colleges and universities around the world.

Thank you and cheers to a happy, productive, and integrous 2019!

Editors Note: Although this post is based on American law, I argue the post has international implications because the legal principles that Christian presents reflect ICAI’s own fundamental values - fairness, responsibility, trustworthiness, respect and honesty. While each institution must follow the laws and requirements of its own country when implementing their policy, ensuring that the fundamental values are reflected in Policy would generally be considered as good practice.


In this third edition of Academic Integrity Policy, I will discuss the due process that should be afforded to students going through a violation allegation process, and then the “standards of review” that should be considered in the implementation of an appeals process.

Due process is a relatively new phenomenon in the American education world, brought about largely as a result of a 1961 judicial case - Dixon v. Alabama State Board of Education. Before that case, educational institutions operated  in loco parentis (in place of the parent), which gave sweeping discretion to institutions.  However, Dixon established that while higher education institutions have certain leeway in how we make decisions and treat students, we must do so with a consistent, documented process.  That is, of course, due process.

Due process is considered fundamental to ensuring fairness in the legal system. Due process can include such requirements as notice that a case can or will be brought against a student, that the student has the right to present witnesses at a hearing and can cross-examine witnesses against them, indication of whether they can bring an attorney to the hearing and what role that attorney may play, and ultimately what the possible sanctions can be (failure in the class, suspension, expulsion, etc.) given the context of the case.

Once an initial decision has been made by a body (e.g., the jury or judge in the legal world; an instructor or administrator in the education world), there should be an appeals process afforded to the student. This appeals process should have established “standards of review”, a legal term of art that describes the level of scrutiny that should be placed on the previous decision-maker (e.g., the jury or judge in the legal world).  In the context of plagiarism and cheating, this may mean to what degree an administrator or hearing body can override the academic decision of the instructor or a decision of another administrative body. In the legal world, this “standard of review” is intended to make certain the decisions made are not just right, but were only made after appropriate due process was granted to the impacted persons.

Below are some of the “standard of review” options used in the legal field that you may want to consider applying to the appeals process in your institutional policy:

1.) Arbitrary and capricious.  Commonly used in governmental agency decisions, this is the most deferential standard of review to the original decision-maker.  Those hearing the appeal will uphold the original decision unless the decision-maker decided in such a way that was inconsistently applied to other students or not following the prescribed process that is required.  Such examples can be failing one student completely in a class for plagiarism while only giving a zero on the assignment to other students despite committing the same illicit act, or not giving appropriate notice to a student that they did an alleged wrong and did not give them the opportunity to file an appeal.

2.) Clearly erroneous.  Used most often in reviewing the factual decisions of district courts, this standard is still relatively deferential, as it will only override the decision-maker should there be a definite showing that a mistake was made.  Such an example would be the student showed the appeal body that no possibility that they plagiarized or that no evidence exists to show that plagiarism occurred.

3.) Substantial evidence.  Considered a more beneficial standard of review for decisions of fact to the defendant (or for this discussion, the student), this requires that the appeal body evaluate all facts and evidence before them and that a reasonable person would agree on the previous conclusion given that evidence.  For academic integrity, this would ask the appeal body to uphold the instructor’s decision if they agree the evidence likely points towards alleged breaking of the rules, but overturn that decision should they feel in their own judgment that the act did not occur.

The standard most commonly applied in higher education is arbitrary and capricious, which is often the standard courts take in reviewing institutional decisions.  This means that as long as the rules are being followed consistently, in a non-discriminatory fashion, and not irrational, the instructor and the institution may make relatively sweeping discretionary decisions.  This regime protects academic freedom of the instructor by allowing them to make individual decisions on what is and is not cheating within their own academic capacities and expertise.

But with academic freedom also comes academic responsibility.  It seems that the majority of the time the arbitrary and capricious standard works.  However, this standard can preclude a student from winning an appeal when they are ostensibly correct on the merits.  As long as the instructor is consistent in punishing students in the same way for the same action, the instructor wins, whether or not the student actually plagiarized or cheated.

Due to this, there is an argument to be made that the standard of review should be raised, either to clearly erroneous or substantial evidence.  It is uncommon, but cases of instructors levying borderline plagiarism cases and winning despite a lack of considerable proof is not unheard of. This can also protect students who inadvertently commit academic integrity violations or those that are truly ignorant to the rules of citation.  However, it can also lead to true cases of plagiarism not being punished and risks students filing and winning otherwise sham appeals based on a lack of evidence or not convincing the appeals body sufficiently. Ultimately, this can risk academic freedom by second-guessing the decisions of qualified, degreed experts.

In the grand scheme of things, it is not particularly required by law that an institution pick a specific standard.  If a lawsuit is filed against the institution, the court would not second-guess the standard being used, but whether it is applied fully and fairly in every case.  If you feel your institution is appropriately equipped to handle a legalistic process, you may want to consider a higher standard, while noting the potential negative impacts on academic freedom.

I am writing this blog post as I sit in a hotel in Budva, Montenegro attending a meeting sponsored by the European Union and the Council of Europe and implemented by the Council of Europe. I was invited as an academic integrity expert by the Council of Europe to speak at a meeting organized for Montenegro universities so they could learn about and discuss how they can strengthen integrity and combat corruption in higher education. Based on what I’ve learned thus far about the efforts over here, I decided that the Council of Europe’s program and Montenegro’s efforts on academic integrity deserved a spotlight post in this blog.

According to the Council of Europe’s website, their efforts in Montenegro stem from the mission of their Platform on Ethics, Transparency, and Integrity in Education (or ETINED), which is to (in direct verbiage from their website):

    • Share information and good practices in the field of transparency and integrity in education;


    • Contribute to the development of adequate answers to challenges that corruption poses to the sector of education and higher education;


    • Create a virtuous cycle in education, whereby all actors commit to fundamental positive ethical principles;


    • Develop capacity-building for all actors.

The premise behind this mission is that quality education can only be achieved if integrity and ethics are front and center.

While not a unique premise, it is also not common. In many countries and universities, there is a failure of political and institutional leadership to see that a direct line can be drawn between academic integrity and educational quality. Typically, in such countries and universities, quality is measured by things such as graduate rates, access, time to degree, grades, faculty publication rates, and so on. Unfortunately, such measures of "quality" can be easily obtained without integrity. All countries and universities should be attending to the quality that can only be obtained with integrity - the achievement of learning outcomes and the mastery of knowledge and skills. 

The Council of Europe’s efforts in Montenegro are intended to help the country’s universities develop ethical standards, promote best quality education practices, and prevent and address corruption. This means that ETINED is focused on every actor in the educational institution, not just the student. Unlike many universities in the west, which tend to separate student integrity from faculty and administrator integrity, the Council of Europe and its ETINED program understand that for our educational institutions to have integrity, all actors must be involved and standards for integrity must be applied to all. Not only does this make practical sense, but such an approach upholds our ICAI fundamental values of fairness, respect, responsibility and trustworthiness.

In other words, we should only ask of our students what we are willing to do ourselves.

In Montenegro, I’m finding what I find in many non-western countries but seldom in places like the US, Canada, and the UK - national attention to academic integrity, national commitment to combatting corruption, and a willingness to admit that things could be done better and with more integrity. While the UK is starting to also acknowledge the need to tackle academic corruption at the national level (especially through the Quality Assurance Agency), not every country is demonstrating the courage to do just that. It's been a long time since we've had a university president in the United States, for example, stand up and publicly admit that their institution has a cheating problem and to announce the efforts that will be taken to combat cheating and encourage integrity.

Thus, I applaud the Council of Europe and Montenegro in their courage to speak up and out for integrity and against corruption, and I especially applaud the universities who are extending resources to follow-through on this commitment once the Council of Europe’s funding is exhausted.

Their actions exemplify the power and importance of institutional leadership in ensuring institutional and academic integrity. As I summarized in my piece on “Leveraging Institutional Integrity” for the Handbook for Academic Integrity - "institutional members will follow the lead of those in positions of leadership and authority, the integrity of an institution is, in part, shaped by the actions of leaders, especially on what they spend their time, attention, and resources” (pg. 4)

So, thank you to the Council of Europe and our Montenegro colleagues for demonstrating what courage for the sake of integrity looks like.

At the University of California, San Diego, we try to honor and celebrate integrity. We do this in an attempt to counter the often negative way in which people approach academic integrity (as if it WERE cheating instead of the OPPOSITE of cheating). There are two main public ways in which we do this: 1) an annual Integrity Awards Ceremony held every April in which we celebrate "integrity champions" among our faculty, staff, students and alumni; and 2) an annual "Excel with Integrity" Contest in which students submit art (written, video, song, visual) to explain how or why they excel with integrity or why excelling with integrity is so important.

There are many winning entries displayed on our UC San Diego Academic Integrity website, but here are the lessons I think that any institution can draw from our spotlighted experience.

Lesson #1 - Celebrate Integrity. Don't let a cheating scandal be the first time people hear about the importance of integrity on your campus. Be proactive and be positive - integrity is something to be desired and developed, not feared.

Lesson #2 - Spend a little to get a lot. We give $250 to the winner of our contest and $150 to the runner-up. You can adjust that amount to suit your campus. We have found cash to be the most attractive draw to the contest. One year we had a bicycle donated (worth far more than $250) and we received fewer entries! So, it may be the usefulness/convenience of the prize is more important than the dollar amount.

Lesson #3 - Involve students. Students should be involved in the designing/creating of your proactive and positive integrity efforts if you want them to attract students. They should also be involved in judging/picking winners - for example, the adults in the room never would have picked the Gorillaz album entry since most of us didn't know what the "Gorillaz" were!

Lesson #4 - Showcase the results. The fruits of your efforts shouldn't just be noticeable for the one day or event. Build your website to highlight your awards, your contest and your other positive-proactive approaches on a daily basis. This can help feed the culture, changing hearts and minds until they believe that the institution cares about integrity and that integrity is something for which we should all continually aim.


Editor's Note: in honor of our international status, ICAI is committed to publishing blog posts in languages other than English. 


Cuando en el 2011 fui por primera vez a un congreso organizado por el Centro Internacional de integridad académica (ICAI, por sus siglas en inglés), en Toronto, Canadá y escuchaba a algunos de los pioneros en el tema en el mundo (Donald McCabe, “padre” de la integridad académica; Tricia Bertram Gallant; líder académica del movimiento de integridad académica y creadora de este blog; Tracey Bretag, investigadora australiana y gran entusiasta del tema), jamás imaginé que siete años después no solo habría podido materializar el sueño de crear un centro de integridad en mi universidad , sino que estaría trabajando de la mano de comprometidos colegas latinoamericanos en una red de integridad académica.

El trabajo colaborativo empezó a tejerse en el 2013, en el marco del XX Congreso Internacional de Integridad Académica, celebrado en San Antonio, Texas, cuando yo exponía los progresos del programa de integridad académica de la Universidad EAFIT (en Medellín, Colombia), denominado Atreverse a Pensar. Ahí tuve la fortuna de conocer a Cecilia Quintanilla, directora de Efectividad Académica de la Universidad de Monterrey (UDEM), quien muy generosamente me invitó al Primer Congreso Nacional de Integridad Académica, organizado en octubre de ese mismo año  por esa universidad.

En ese primer encuentro académico en Monterrey fue muy interesante darnos cuenta que si bien las preguntas que se venían haciendo -desde hacía dos décadas- investigadores y académicos de universidades norteamericanas resonaban con nuestras preguntas, las problemáticas que nosotros enfrentamos como instituciones latinoamericanas tienen unos contextos y unas características muy propias: marcos normativos más laxos; cultura institucional particular; relación con la cualidad moral del honor muy distinta a la estadounidense; acceso a la educación superior privada no necesariamente por méritos académicos, sino por la posibilidad de contar con los recursos económicos; y una idea de solidaridad que se tiende a confundir con complicidad en el fraude, por mencionar solo algunas.

Así las cosas, comenzamos a estudiar diferentes temas que ocupaban la agenda del fenómeno de la integridad académica mundial: los códigos de honor, los instrumentos para medir el fraude académico, las campañas comunicacionales de otras universidades, las herramientas para disminuir la trampa, las transformaciones en la evaluación, los servicios de softwares de detección de similitud en los trabajos escritos, etc. De esta manera, lo que en un inicio se pensaron como proyectos en algunas de nuestras universidades, con el paso de los años, se convirtieron en programas permanentes, y gracias al gran esfuerzo de la UDEM -que desde el 2013 ha realizado el congreso anual de integridad académica- fueron llegando otros compañeros de la Universidad Católica de Chile, de la Universidad Panamericana de México (UP) y del Tecnológico de Monterrey (TEC), con quienes en 2016 tomamos la decisión de iniciar formalmente la Red Latinoamericana de Integridad Académica.

Uno de los primeros frutos fue la revista Integridad Académica , que bajo el liderazgo de la UP y el apoyo de Turnitin, ha publicado cinco números. También intercambiamos experiencias académicas e investigativas en nuestro encuentro anual en la UDEM (las presentaciones del 6to Congreso están alojadas aquí) y hoy, con este blog en español, comenzamos nuestra participación en la iniciativa de ICAI, que busca mantener viva la conversación de sobre la creación y el fomento de culturas universitarias de integridad académica.

Después de tantos años de intentar entender mejor lo que implica crear un cultura de integridad en nuestros campus universitarios, podríamos concluir que: a) hemos profundizado en la comprensión del fenómeno del fraude académico; b) hemos logrado algunos avances interesantes que se ven reflejados en decisiones institucionales que respaldan una apuesta decidida por el valor de la integridad como impronta de nuestras universidades; c) hemos aprendido sobre estrategias y acciones investigativas, pedagógicas, culturales y comunicacionales que tienen sentido y aportan valor en nuestro contexto de instituciones de educación superior latinoamericanas; d) somos conscientes de que pese a algunos logros significativos, son muchos más los retos que tenemos por delante.

En ese sentido, embarcarse en trabajar por la integridad académica, que a mi modo de ver constituye un proyecto de ética aplicada de un alcance mayor en el tiempo que el tema exclusivo de lo académico, implica:

    • Claridad para definir las motivaciones y las metas que se quieren alcanzar.


    • Apoyo institucional desde las altas directivas de las universidades, que permita que los proyectos tengan un alcance y un peso significativo.


    • Voluntad de conocer el problema a través de investigaciones y estudios cuantitativos y cualitativos.


    • Perseverancia, en tanto las acciones comienzan a generar sus frutos en el tiempo.


    • Entusiasmo puesto que es fácil caer en el desánimo cuando ocurre una crisis por un fraude masivo o una falta de respuesta a determinadas iniciativas por parte de los estudiantes, de los docentes o de los mismos directivos.


    • Trabajo colaborativo tanto al interior de la institución -a través de las alianzas con compañeros de otras dependencias- como  con otras universidades.

Los primeros puntos dependen, en gran medida de cada universidad y de quienes lideren las iniciativas de integridad académica. En el último punto, es fundamental encontrar aliados dispuestos a compartir experiencias, aprendizajes y a tejer redes que vayan expandiendo las preguntas, los esfuerzos y los sueños de crear esos ecosistemas de aprendizaje que permitan que las comunidades universitarias realmente cumplan su misión de formar seres humanos íntegros y competentes para aportar a los retos sociales, económicos y científicos de la humanidad.

The ICAI Annual Conference is less than 120 days away (March 8-10, 2019).  We have extended the early bird registration deadline until Nov. 21, 2018. 

Here are few updates about the conference.

1 – Approximately 80 proposals were submitted for workshops, presentations, and poster sessions.  The conference allows us to learn from each other. These presentations will be high quality for you to explore research in academic integrity, see best practices, and have open dialogue about academic integrity concerns or highlights at your institution.

2 - Lewis Simms will be one of our conference keynote speakers. Mr. Simms comes to the conference as a High School teacher and coach in Pascagoula, Mississippi, but he will be speaking to us about his own story.  His story is one from the student's perspective in academic integrity as he was involved in a large academic misconduct case at the US Naval Academy. He will tell his story and explain how his life changed that year and how he works with his current students to help them learn from his mistakes.  His story will serve as a great opportunity for us to learn from a student who has gone through the academic integrity process and for us to see what proactive or reactive measures might have benefitted Mr. Simms and others involved in his situation.

3 – Location, location, location!!  The Intercontinental Hotel sits a block away from the French Quarter in New Orleans.  If you do not want to walk, the street car runs right outside the hotel as well. When selecting the hotel, a goal of ICAI was to make sure that the hotel allowed for room for participants to interact between sessions and have casual conversation. We think that the intercontinental will truly allow for you to interact and learn with other conference participants in both a formal and informal way.

4 – One cannot come to New Orleans without experiencing the culinary side of the town.  When you check-in at the conference, you will be asked if you want to take part in our dining around New Orleans dinner group.  For Friday evening’s dinner, you will be able to sign up to eat with other who have similar interests or discussion topics. Each small group will then have a reservation to go eat at a local restaurant (all within walking distance).  You get to experience the city while also continuing the conference conversation.

5 – While the schedule is still being developed, below is a summary of what you can expect:

Friday, March 8

    • ICAI committee meetings midmorning 


    • “First Timer” Orientation to ICAI Annual Conference mid/late morning


    • Opening Luncheon will begin the official conference


    • Program sessions


    • Social/Cocktail Hour


    • Dining Around New Orleans

Saturday, March 9

    • Breakfast provided


    • Large Group Panel Discussion


    • Program Sessions


    • Luncheon with Keynote Speaker


    • Program Sessions


    • Town Hall meeting for all members of ICAI


    • Dinner on your own

Sunday, March 10

    • Breakfast provided


    • Program Sessions


    • Closing Lunch

We look forward to seeing you in New Orleans!!

AUTHORSHIP NOTE: This piece was co-authored by Dr. James Orr and Dr. Jessica Beckett. Dr. Beckett is the Director of the Harvey Knowledge Center at Radford University

A twenty-first century education is mediated by technology in countless ways. Students engage with user interfaces to complete and submit assignments, universities use predictive analytics to support students and increase retention, and software provides students with tutorials, adaptive testing, and machine-enhanced learning. On the other hand, software also exists to facilitate and detect cheating and the use of such software has grown exponentially. For example, there are over 15,000 institutions that have adopted just one of the available products to help faculty detect plagiarism (herein referred to as “plagiarism software”). Yet, concerns over the use of such software have been simmering for over a decade.

Among such complaints is a concern over the rights such software companies maintain over student work that is stored in their databases. In a 2017 blog post for the journal Hybrid Pedagogy, the authors claim that “While students . . . are discouraged from copying other work, the company [Turnitin] itself can strip, mine, and sell student work for profit.Hybrid Pedagogy, the authors claim that “While students . . . are discouraged from copying other work, the company [Turnitin] itself can strip, mine, and sell student work for profit. Similar concerns that students are being exploited by such software have been echoed by others.

Despite these concerns, the US Court of Appeals has ruled that such contributions to a database fall under fair use, because they are only being referenced for comparison. Further, despite some earlier concerns, none of these software companies maintain copyright to student work.

In addition, when a researcher or faculty member prepares writing for circulation, they submit it to a journal that will often engage reviewers to check the veracity and contribution of the work to their discipline. Using such software can mimic this process for students, by having students submit work to be reviewed first by software that checks for matches to other text, and then by their course instructor, who must review the report that software generates and check the student’s use of sources based on the assignment for their course.

Another common complaint among writing educators is that such software replaces the highly skilled human who is credentialed and experienced in the teaching of writing and use of sources.

The former chair of the national organization Conference on College Composition and Communication was quoted by Inside Higher Ed, claiming that universities are using such software to take the place of writing education: “The job [of faculty] is to pay attention to assignments," Anson told Inside Higher Ed, "They shouldn’t be finding ways to get around that responsibility, which is an important one."

As adoption of such software increases, what are universities doing about these ethical and pedagogical complaints that companies are using technology to replace quality education? The answer is simple: they are teaching. A few forward-facing universities, such as UC Berkeley and Virginia Tech are taking an educational approach by training faculty and framing plagiarism within conversations of pedagogy.

UC Berkeley claims that “The use of web-based detection does not mean that plagiarism is now merely an enforcement or technical issue.” And instead they remind the campus that plagiarism is “still a pedagogical matter.”  One of the authors of this piece, Dr. James Orr, has  stated: “I encourage faculty to use these tools to assist students in the writing process,” which is the very area to which Anson and others wanted faculty to place their attention.

So, how can such software programs be utilized in pedagogy rather than punishment? Some of the approaches used by institutions adopting this approach include the following:

    • requiring faculty to undergo training before using plagiarism detection software


    • offering teaching tips for helping students understand source material


    • guiding faculty to use common plagiarism prevention strategies such as breaking assignments into multiple drafts and making unique and meaningful assignments


    • offering educational support services to students in the areas of time management and test taking skills


    • bundling feedback and grading features into the plagiarism detection software

As concerns over digital surveillance and reliance on software grow, so are responses to ensuring that such software remains a tool to enrich the work of educators—rather than a solution that replaces that work.


Two weeks ago, I talked about the Bystander effect and how it contributes to the spread of cheating and contract cheating. This week, I’d like to spotlight what we are doing at UC San Diego to train people to stand up and speak out for integrity.

Our Bystander Intervention Training (BIT) was developed by adapting training to prevent sexual assault and by incorporating understandings from the ethical decision-making and acting literature and removing information that isn’t normally paramount in cheating situations (like safety).

Our training begins by educating people on the 4 tests that can be used to recognize ethical issues. This is a critical step in the training because without the ability to recognize an ethical situation when facing it, people fail to act. In other words, in order for people to act ethically they must be able to see ethically.

Briefly, the four tests are: gut feeling, values, standards, and exposure. The gut feeling test is intuitive and instinctive. While we can’t train people to have “gut feelings”, we can train ourselves to pay attention to our gut feelings. The tight shoulders, the sweaty palms, the clenching fists or jaws, or the insatiable need to either fight or flee are all signals our bodies uses to say “hey! Pay attention! Something is terribly wrong here!” And, once trained, we can use the values, standards and exposure tests to quickly check our gut instinct. Asking oneself simple questions can run our brains through these tests rather quickly:

    1. is what I am seeing undermining honesty, trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, or fairness? (values test)


    1. Is what I am seeing a violation of standards, rules, codes or laws? (standards test)


    1. If others saw what I am seeing, would it (or my inaction) be approved or condemned? (exposure test)

Once we can see ethically, we will be able to come up with IDEAs on acting ethically. These IDEAs for acting ethically can also be best described with questions:

    • Interrupt - is there a way that I can interrupt the unethical behavior in progress or interrupt the situation so an unethical action doesn’t occur?


    • Direct - can I direct the actors to an alternative ethical action instead of unethical ones?


    • Engage - would it be useful to engage others in the situation to help me resolve the situation ethically?


    • Authorities - do I need to act by reporting this to the relevant authorities?

It should be easy to see how these IDEAs could be useful actions for a student, a teaching assistant (TA), or even a staff member to take in the face of cheating. For example, if a student feels that their neighbor is trying to copy off of their test, they could interrupt the behavior by hiding their test or they could report the situation to the authorities (their teacher). Or, a TA who sees cheating during a test could interrupt the behavior by taking away the cheating aid, engage with other TAs to make sure of their observations, and/or report the behavior to authorities. Finally, if a student tells their resident hall advisor that they are feeling better about their ability to succeed in the course because they found a tutor online to "help" them with their homework, the resident advisor can interrupt by asking important questions to clarify the ethicality of the tutor or direct the student to alternative sources of help on campus like the TA, supplemental instruction, or the instructor. 

Once people have IDEAs on how they can act ethically, they are trained to think through the best IDEA by running them through the 4 tests again (see above). Again, a rather simple question can be useful - of all of the possible IDEAs, which will best uphold the applicable values and standards, and which one would pass muster if exposed to others (like the media or institutional leadership)?

And finally, our training ends by helping people develop the courage to act. We do this by educating them on the typical rationalizations for NOT acting ethically and having them pre-script responses to these rationalizations. This idea of pre-scripting is critical to building courage because it helps people feel prepared and the possible objections will not shock them into psychological paralysis.

The UC San Diego Bystander Intervention Training illustrates why acting ethically cannot be left to chance or by appeal to people’s better natures. To act ethically, one needs to see ethically and then have the courage to do something about it. And, in many ethical situations, one has to act rather instantly with little to no time for thinking. Thus, training and practicing can help prepare one to be able to act in an instant. So, using this BIT along with case studies and role plays can help people practice and develop their acting muscles. But ultimately, we cannot provide sufficient practice in the short training sessions we are usually afforded. However, at least with the BIT training, we've provided them with a tool that they can learn and practice in their daily lives until they become sufficiently skilled to see and act ethically when the moment presents itself, which it always does.

We achieved some small wins on our 3rd international day of action against contract cheating providers. We had our largest number of registered institutions since we started the DOA in 2016 - 88 institutions in total. And these participants were global - located in Africa, Australia, Central America, Europe, the Middle East, North America, South America, and the UK. We reached thousands of users and made thousands of impressions on the DOA with the #defeatthecheat and #excelwithintegrity hashtags. 800 people signed our first ever Pledge Against Contract Cheating (thanks to Turnitin’s collaboration), and we were only shooting for 500! And the activities across the world looked engaging and worthwhile. Just check out our page or search in twitter using #defeatthecheat and #excelwithintegrity hashtags to see news and photos of some of these events.

At institutions around the world (e.g., American University of Nigeria, Bow Valley College, Majan College, Rio Salado College, Seneca College, University of Waterloo), students were educated on contract cheating, signed the pledge against contract cheating, and declared their own intent to #excelwithintegrity on whiteboards which were then snapshot and posted.

Faculty were invited to workshops or presentations to help them understand, prevent and detect contract cheating and create cultures of integrity at institutions like UC San Diego, Universityof Calgary, European Network for Academic Integrity, University of Wollongong (both in Australia & Dubai!). Our DOA received attention from the news media as well as celebrated publishing outfits like University Affairs (Canada), Times Higher Education (UK), and BioMed Central (UK).

And, GSM London even published a board game under a creative commons license for us all to use on our own institutions!

These small wins on the DOA do not stand alone in their significance. There are small wins continually occurring all over the world in our fight against contract cheating providers. There is some important and useful research coming out of Australia thanks to funding from the Australian government and the research team led by Tracey Bretag of University of South Australia. The UK petition against the contract cheating providers (what the Brits call “essay mill cheating services”) has over 55,000 signatures. And Turnitin is getting ready to release a product that should help faculty detect contract cheating.

And yet, contract cheating providers are still operating. Students are still paying them to write their papers, sit their exams, and complete their theses and dissertations. And so business is good for these providers. Dismantling the contract cheating industry will be hard. It will be contentious. And it will be tiring.

So, dismantling the contract cheating industry will be the BIG WIN. We won’t achieve that BIG WIN in one day of action per year, or within one country’s efforts to tackle the providers. Instead we will achieve that BIG WIN with one small win at a time.

Rosabeth Kanter - author of “when a thousand flowers bloom” and a great influencer of my own thinker reminds us that “If world problems feel too big to tackle, think small. Step by step. Small wins build confidence, lead the way to change.” We cannot institutionalize academic integrity by only acting on one day. But, this one day push may cause a thousand more flowers to bloom than would have bloomed before. And when thousands upon thousands of flowers bloom, the landscape will change.

Together, our small wins will change the landscape of education. Together, we will continue to plant the seeds of integrity within our communities. Then together we must condition the teaching and learning soil so the seeds have nourishment off of which to feed. And finally, if together we foster institutional environments that support integrity propagation, we will be able to fight the forces that seek to destroy true and meaningful education.

On that note, let us continue to seek small wins in our fight for the integrity of education around the globe. Sign up today to participate in the 4th International Day of Action Against Contract Cheating. And, document your small wins at our website so others can glean ideas and inspiration from you.

I’ll end with this quote with an important reminder from notable organizational theorist and “small wins” guru Karl Weick that small wins do matter:

A small win is a concrete, complete, implemented outcome of moderate importance. By itself, one small win may seem unimportant. A series of wins at small but significant tasks, however, reveals a pattern that may attract allies, deter opponents, and lower resistance to subsequent proposals. Small wins are controllable opportunities that produce visible results.

On Wednesday of this week, ICAI will host its 3rd International Day of Action Against Contract Cheating. The purpose of the day is to share one day, around the world, where every educational institution will stand up and speak out against contract cheating. While we've not yet reached the goal of “every institution”, our hope is that each year a growing number will join a loud chorus of unified voices who aim to shine light on this disease invading educational systems. We also hope that this day of action will force action by political and educational leaders to finally take actions to eradicate the pervasive pathogen of the unscrupulous, unethical and unhelpful contract cheating providers.

In other words, this 3rd Day of Action is our global call-to-action - it is our call for educational institutions and politicians to stop being bystanders to the spread of this disease. So, in this post, I explore this concept of the "bystander effect" and how it explains the struggle of getting people to stand up and speak out against cheating and contract cheating.

This bystander tendency to stand back and watch something horrible unfold in front of one’s eyes while doing nothing is not unique to the contract cheating phenomenon. Psychologists have been studying the bystander effect for decades and for most of that time, it was thought that apathy (that is, “I don’t care about the situation/person I’m observing and therefore I won’t act”) led to this inaction. However, psychologist Scott Lilienfeld and colleagues suggest that apathy is not the most common cause of the bystander effect. Rather, Lilienfeld and colleagues argue that the bystander effect is more likely a psychological paralysis brought on by a “diffusion of responsibility” (that is, “I’m not going to act because it is someone else’s responsibility”), “pluralistic ignorance” (that is, “I’m not going to act because no one else is, which must mean that everyone else thinks there is no need to act”), or just the fear of looking foolish.

On an episode of the Freakonomics podcast, Lilienfeld argues that this fear of looking foolish is particularly influential in ambiguous situations where “it’s not entirely clear that that something is an emergency”. As you might recall from an earlier blog post of mine, it seems evident that most people do not view cheating as an emergency, primarily because cheating in school doesn’t typically cause immediate harm to basic needs like safety, security and physical sustenance. Cheating situations may not just be ambiguous because they lack urgency, but because they lack clarity. Take a student who sees another student using their cell phone during an exam. It is difficult for the observing student to know whether their peer is checking the time or are cheating with the cell phone. Or, consider a teacher who reads a paper that just seems too good to be true and written at a level much beyond the student’s normal writing. Did the student contract cheat or did they simply work really hard on the paper, get help from the TA or the writing center or just not try hard enough on the earlier papers?

Both of the preceding scenarios are ambiguous because they lack urgency and clarity, and it is easy to imagine both the student and the teacher being paralyzed by a sense that they might look foolish. It’s also easy to imagine the student believing it is not their responsibility to intervene or the teacher believing that if the student was contract cheating, some other teacher in another class surely would have noticed it before and the student would have been expelled by now. In other words, it is easy to see why both the observing student and the teacher might choose to be bystanders rather than actors in these scenarios. Ironically, the lack of action will not bring the bystander the clarity and urgency they so clearly need (and perhaps even desire). It is only by acting (e.g., interrupting, investigating, inquiring) that one can discern the truth of the situation. It is only by acting that we can relieve the stress caused by the unknown.

To be sure, it is not easy to force action from inaction, to move an inert object like a person who thinks they may (or may not) be observing something that may (or may not) be a problem upon which they could (or should) exert influence. But we can train ourselves to act in the face of potential integrity or ethical violations, whether that be cheating in school or any other ethical scenario. The Giving Voice to  Values curriculum is but one popular training method for doing just that. Regardless of the specific training model, we, as educators, have an obligation to do something when we think that integrity might be in jeopardy. It is our moral obligation. As educators, we also have the moral obligation to train our students how they can act in response to an unethical situation - at school, in work, and in life. We must prepare them to be able to act as ethical citizens and professionals.

At UC San Diego, we conduct our own Bystander Intervention Training. In this training, we train people to recognize ethical issues when they’re facing them, choose an action in response, and then act (partly by rehearsing the scenarios that will paralyze them from acting). We work to equip them with the skills and knowledge so that they will feel confident to step out from the bystander role and into the role of interruptor, redirector, engager, and/or reporter. In other words, we try to help them build the courage to uphold fairness, honesty, responsibility, respect and trustworthiness, even when it is difficult to do so. I’ll follow up in the next couple of weeks with an instructional post on the specifics of the Bystander Intervention Training we conduct for students, Residence Assistants, TAs & Tutors, faculty and staff, so that you can replicate it at your institution if you choose to do so.

Until then, I implore all of us to use this 3rd International Day of Action as our source of courage (knowing we have friends and allies) to step out of the bystander shadows and into the glaring light that will come when we truly tackle the burgeoning contract cheating industry. It will be a fight to be sure. Many educational leaders do not want us to speak up and out because doing so shines light on the practices that we must change in-house. Many politicians do not want us to speak up and out because doing so shines light on their failure to address corruption in business and government. And certainly the contract cheating providers do not want us to speak up and out because our doing so will threaten their million dollar industry.

But our students need us to stop being bystanders. Our students count on us to partner with them in upholding the integrity of higher education so that their degrees, their work, and their learning will have meaning and a lasting, positive impact on their lives. Let us turn a blind eye no longer. We must interrupt the unethical practices of contract cheating providers and we must demand action by ourselves, our students, and our educational, political and business leaders. Enough is Enough.

It is time to stand by no longer. We must #defeatthecheat and help our students #excelwithintegrity.