Imagine yourself outside, in the summer, tending to your garden. You may be pruning back a rose bush, rotating the soil, adding fertilizer, planting seeds, or watering. You tend to each plant with the specific type of care, soil and water levels it needs. You perhaps even enjoy a casual conversation with your favorite plant, spending a bit of extra time with it.

You do this because you know that flowers can’t bloom and plants can’t grow without essential elements. You might even do this because you enjoy seeing things come to life, grow and flourish. Perhaps you do it because gardening provides you with a working meditation, and while you’re cultivating the garden, you are cultivating your mind.

Academic Integrity is not dissimilar to our garden plants. It requires a constant gardener to tend to it, to give it the environment that it needs to flourish, grow and root deep into the soil of the organization. When Moss Kanter (1988) wrote “When a thousand flowers bloom”, she argued that social innovations are naturally “uncertain, fragile, political and imperialistic” (p. 172). So, in order for the innovation to root within an organization, the environment must be intentionally structured and prepared to welcome the innovation. Without such intentional agency of people at all levels of the organization, a social innovation like academic integrity will likely fail to root into the depths of the organization’s soil.

This idea of rooting an innovation within the depths of an organization provides the theoretical foundation for the creation and implementation of ICAI’s Academic Integrity Rating System (AIRS). AIRS, originally created in celebration of ICAI’s 20th Anniversary in 2012, has been recently updated to reflect what we have learned over the last 10 years about how we can root academic integrity and change organizational culture. 

The intent of AIRS is to provide colleges and universities with the essential elements needed to root academic integrity into their soil and to allow it to flourish and grow. In other words, the essential elements for creating a culture of integrity, which is a known requirement for reducing cheating and enhancing integrity (McCabe & Trevino, 2002).

What are these essential elements? In this new version of AIRS, we group the essential elements under 7 components: 

  1. Administrative Leadership & Support
  2. Faculty Engagement & Support
  3. Staff Engagement & Support
  4. Student Engagement & Support
  5. Education & Communication
  6. Policies & Procedures
  7. Research & Evaluation

Think of each component as akin to the essential elements needed for a healthy garden: the water, temperature, soil, bed, fertilizer, winter care, and summer care. Within each component, there are indicators - evidence of the progress of rooting academic integrity into the organization’s soil. Think of the indicators as akin to the signs that your plant is healthy: the depth of the roots, root health, the number of blooms, the vibrancy of colors, the length of the bloom, the quantity of fruit or vegetables produced from the plant, and so on. Each component has indicators of course, but not all have the same number given the power or ability of a component to cultivate academic integrity varies. 

These seven components and their indicators tell us what needs to be in place to create that culture of integrity, a state of the organization in which integrity is so normalized and routine that it is “just the way we do things around here”. AIRS then helps institutions determine how rooted each indicator, and thereby each component, is within their organizational culture. It does this by providing descriptions of what the indicator looks at each phase of change as in the example in the table. Under the Faculty Engagement & Support component, is the Knowledge & Awareness indicator at the Starting Gate, or is it at the Emerging, Developing or Transforming stage?


To return to our garden analogy, the Starting Gate would be akin to you determining you’d like a garden and you’re getting ready to build and fill it. At the Emerging stage, you would have planted some seeds and you’re now seeing some sprouts and sprigs growing up from the ground. At the Developing stage, your garden would be full with plants, but still requiring a lot of care to ensure they keep flourishing, and maybe there is not yet as many blooms, fruits or vegetables as you expect are possible. And finally, your garden at the Transforming stage would be established and healthy, producing plenty of blooms, fruits and vegetables, and while it still needs constant care and attention, it has taken on a life of its own and can withstand the occasional threats or pests as long as those threats and pests are not allowed to spread or persist.

AIRS is a rubric - a self-assessment tool - that enables institutions to dig into their academic integrity activities to see what they are doing well (causes for celebration) and where there are areas for improvement (target points for resources and efforts). AIRS is also a great conversation starter; a quick self-assessment by a key administrator can identify questions they want to ask or people they want to contribute. AIRS should be used at multiple points in time, for example when an institution is just beginning its work to truly assess the institutionalization of academic integrity and then again later when there has been concerted effort and the institution wants to assess its progress.

The updated AIRS will be released later this year after some beta testing of the instrument by ICAI members. If you would like to learn more about AIRS, I invite you to join us on March 10th at 11:00 am EST for our session at the 2022 ICAI Conference. Click here for more information on the ICAI Conference and to register. If you are unable to attend the session, but would like to learn more about AIRS and participate in the beta testing, please fill out this form.


McCabe, D. L., & Trevino, L. K. (2002). Academe, 88(1), 37-41.

Moss Kanter, R. (1988). When a thousand flowers bloom: Structural, collective and social conditions for innovation in organization. Research in Organizational Behavior, eds. Staw BM and Cummings LL, 10, 169-211.

In the last few years, academic integrity and misconduct have become hot topics at colleges and universities around the world. There has been coverage in the academic industry press and the broader media including the New York Times, Financial Times, and major US network news. ICAI remains at the forefront of research and practice in academic integrity and as part of our mission, we have developed the most comprehensive survey on academic integrity available for students.

As described on this blog in August, the survey is an updated version of the seminal work by ICAI founder Dr. Donald McCabe and the revision continues to bear his name and influence. It contains sections on key variables that will be of interest to both researchers and institutions like:

  • A comprehensive inventory of misconduct behaviors, including specific items directed at measuring contract cheating
  • A set of items about how students perceive the academic integrity climate at their school
  • Measures about students beliefs about cheating, including how morally wrong it is, and how easily it can be justified
  • Measures of students’ attitudes toward school that can influence their academic misconduct behavior.

The survey was validated with over 2500 student participants at institutions that include a large US research university, two smaller universities in the US, including one that is predominantly minority-serving, and a large minority-serving community college in Canada. This provided a sample of diverse undergraduate and graduate students to help ensure that the measures in the survey are reliable and valid.

Results of the validation study were strong, indicating that each measure is both internally consistent and related to the other measures in the way that theory would predict. This is the first time in the long history of ICAI that these measures have undergone rigorous psychometric testing. The testing yielded some interesting new findings: for example, we were able to validate that cheating behaviors are generally correlated, so that a student who engages in one is more likely to engage in others. Beyond that, though, the data revealed that there are clusters of associated misconduct behaviors. Contract cheating, misuse of sources, inappropriate collaboration, and fraud all seem to have key aspects in common.

Now for the exciting part! The manuscript summarizing these findings has been submitted for peer review in the expectation that these measures will be freely available for scholars to use in their research. A preview of the results will be presented at the Annual Conference in March 2022 as well.

ICAI has also made the survey available to members as an assessment tool. As we said in August, we would like to “ provide institutions with actionable data to enact meaningful change.” Participating institutions will be able to make comparisons over time and with the other institutions in the survey. ICAI will also be able to speak authoritatively about the state of academic integrity worldwide based on these data.

Non-member institutions can participate in the North American benchmarking study at no cost by joining ICAI. Versions of the survey are available in English (optimized separately for the US and Canadian contexts) and Latin American Spanish. Fee waivers are available to institutions in need. To learn more about the survey, the partner manual is available online here. If your institution might like to participate, contact to learn more. If you are ready to sign your school up, complete the partner portal, which asks about your institution’s survey needs.

Mark your calendars ... February 19 is Plagiarism Prevention Day! Promoting behaviors that can help to prevent plagiarism through both pedagogy and student support are cornerstones of academic integrity. But defining plagiarism and its importance can be a challenge.

Plagiarism has many formal definitions. Almost every institutional academic integrity and research misconduct policy contain separate definitions that range in length and specificity. At its core, plagiarism is a failure to provide credit to the creator of a piece of work. What many definitions lack, however, is an understanding about why attribution truly matters. Curtis Newbold (2016), the Visual Communication Guy, provides a wonderful illustration of the many ways students, faculty, and researchers can plagiarize. His explanations for why each category listed counts as plagiarism often point out the dishonesty behind plagiarizing materials – because a plagiarist is pretending that the words, ideas, theories, artwork, etc. belong to them, rather than the person that created the initial work. Further, it prohibits a reader from being able to follow or trust any argument made due to a lack of evidentiary support.

As we look to prevent plagiarism in our classrooms, pedagogical practices regarding plagiarism must go beyond telling students to “cite their sources” and “not to copy”. Stop expecting students to know why it matters. Tell them why. Help them to see how plagiarism can ruin their future careers. Explain that integrity now, in the classroom, sets the foundation for ethical leadership in their futures. Set them up for success.

Faculty and staff must also stop expecting that students to have the social and cultural capital from their high schools to understand plagiarism. Locquaio and Ives (2020) found that “Students typically had beginner knowledge of citations/references … they could describe what a citation looked like, but not the purpose of citations.”  In every course, teach them what it means to plagiarize. Provide your students with resources and be a positive example by citing your own sources. The Retraction Watch Database shows that nearly 40 articles have been retracted since January 1, 2022, for plagiarism or plagiarism related issues. Forty articles retracted because we have failed as faculty and researchers to hold ourselves to the standards we set for students.

If you are looking for specific practices to help with plagiarism in your courses, scaffolding is one approach that may work for you. You may also wish to help your students develop agency in their writing.

There are many ways to address plagiarism. Tell us how you talk about plagiarism with your students @TweetCAI.

I recently came across the term “integrity sciences”, which as it applies to the field of academic integrity, appears to have been coined by Dr. Michelle Bergadaà, Professor Emerita of the Université de Genève and founder and President of the Institute for Research and Action on Fraud and Plagiarism in Academia / Institut de Recherche et d’Action sur la Fraude et le Plagiat Académiques (IRAFPA).

Dr. Bergadaà hosted a conference in 2020 on the topic of integrity sciences and in 2021, published an edited volume, together with Dr. Paulo Peixoto, titled “L’urgence de l’intégrité académique” (“The urgency of academic integrity”) . Written in French, this book includes 32 by authors from across Europe.

The notion of “integrity sciences” stuck with me. Those of you who know me will no doubt remember a story I share often in my presentations. In 2017, after applying for an internal research grant at my university, I was informed that the application was rejected on the basis that academic integrity is an administrative matter not a research topic. This was just one grant application and I am, of course, grateful to the University of Calgary, for the tremendous support they have provided for my work, including research funding that, since 2016, now exceeds $100,000 CAD across various projects. But that one grant application rejection has stuck with me because of the reasons provided for why the project did not receive funding. Since then, I have dedicated part of my work to showing that not only is academic integrity a topic, it is a field of research, policy, and professional practice.

When I first read the term “integrity sciences” it piqued my interest. I began contemplating the various areas of the field of integrity sciences: systematic and scientific inquiry investigating academic integrity; research integrity; research ethics; publication ethics; plagiarism; fraud and corruption in education and science; and so on. Similar to the way in which learning sciences studies the “an interdisciplinary field that studies teaching and learning” (Sawyer, p. 1), integrity sciences studies is a multi-, inter-, and transdiciplinary field that studies ethics and integrity.

I pointed out during my keynote speech at the 2021 European Conference on Academic Integrity and Plagiarism (ECAIP), hosted by the European Network for Academic Integrity (ENAI), that academic integrity research is transdisciplinary and multi-faceted. The idea of approaching the investigations we conduct under the umbrella of integrity sciences fits in with this notion. The term “integrity sciences” provides us with language to describe the transdisciplinary nature of academic integrity research.

I am still very much learning what Dr. Bergadaà’s conceptualization of integrity sciences might include, and I think this notion is worth discussing with colleagues not only in Europe, but also beyond, to include scholars and scientists across the world.

Reprinted with permission. Full article: An Introduction to Integrity Sciences – https://drsaraheaton.wordpress.com/2022/01/24/10757/

Hace algunos años, tuve la oportunidad de realizar mis prácticas profesionales en un colegio primaria como maestra de apoyo. En esa ocasión me asignaron un grupo en donde los alumnos tenían entre 6 y 7 años. Recuerdo especialmente a un alumno, pues era muy inteligente, tenaz y a su corta edad no se le dificultaba tomar decisiones; el problema era que su comportamiento no era el correcto. Si algo no le parecía, se molestaba, gritaba, pegaba. Hubo una ocasión en que fue tanto su enojo que rompió una ventana haciendo daño a la maestra titular.

Durante el recreo, sus compañeros se alejaban de él, seguramente por el miedo a sus reacciones. En una ocasión hablé con la maestra titular y le pregunté si los papás de este alumno tenían conocimiento de lo que ocurría en el salón de clase. La respuesta me sorprendió, ya que los padres sí sabían lo que pasaba, pero ellos argumentaban que eso era normal en los niños y que la escuela no solo debe enseñar conocimiento académico sino también cómo comportarse.  

Esto me hizo reflexionar sobre una de las preguntas más comunes referentes a la educación ¿a quién le corresponde enseñar la integridad, la ética, la moral y la disciplina? ¿a los padres de familia o a las instituciones educativas?

Seguramente existen diferentes puntos de vista con relación a este tema. Unos defienden que la educación y los valores se aprenden en casa, y otros, que esto debe enseñarse en la escuela, y en muchas ocasiones, los padres de familia lo exigen, pero luego se quejan de las sanciones que las instituciones imponen ante las faltas de integridad.

En mi opinión, la enseñanza de los valores y el actuar con integridad debe inculcarse en casa, pero también reforzarse en la escuela, es parte de la formación que buscamos en nuestros estudiantes para convertirlos en buenos profesionistas que aporten a la sociedad y contribuyan al cambio que tanto necesitamos.

Esto conlleva a un gran reto, especialmente para las preparatorias y universidades, que son el último espacio para los estudiantes antes de ingresar al mundo laboral. Es en estos niveles, donde lamentablemente, suceden muchas faltas a la integridad como copiar, plagiar, pagar por un trabajo o un examen, no denunciar a otras personas que incumplen con las reglas, entre otras, y que suelen “normalizarse”.

Por ello, nuestra labor como profesores e instituciones educativas es promover la importancia de la integridad no solo en el aula, sino también mostrarles las consecuencias de no actuar con ética en la vida laboral y personal, ejemplos de lo que podrían vivir una vez como egresados y enfatizar los beneficios de actuar con honestidad, respeto, responsabilidad, justicia, confianza y valentía. Así como hacer cumplir los reglamentos y códigos de honor, gestionar los procesos que correspondan, pero, sobre todo, brindar a los estudiantes la oportunidad de aprender de sus errores y enmendarlos.

Si queremos lograr un mejor resultado, este esfuerzo debe realizarse en conjunto con los padres de familia (incluso de los universitarios), y para ello, es importante realizar eventos, talleres y conferencias donde los involucremos y compartamos la relevancia de este tema, así como darles a conocer las reglas de integridad de la escuela y que las respeten de la misma manera que se les pide a sus hijos, pues en este barco vamos todos y solo trabajando de la mano, podremos lograr mejores resultados.

Recently, I was reading a dissertation, “Cheating from a Distance: An Examination of Academic Dishonesty Among University Students,” by Timothy K. Daty from the University of New Haven. While interesting for multiple reasons, including its analysis of online vs. in-person cheating in a post-Covid-19 world, I kept coming back to one quote: “A student’s academic record can also impact student disciplinary hearings. More precisely, a student’s grade point average can have a pronounced influence on university sanctioning. When undergoing formal hearings concerning alleged academic dishonesty, students with lower academic achievement appear to have a higher incidence of guilty verdicts” (Larwood & Rankin, 2010 cited by Daty, 2021, p. 35). Like any good scholar, I hunted down the reference.

Larwood and Rankin (2010) ran a probit analysis of 93 honor code cases over three years. They did find that students with lower GPA’s had a higher probability of being found guilty and other worrisome trends. While I wish the article was longer in order to read through the methods and more detailed findings, this finding is disturbing because we know that ‘good’ students cheat, too.

‘Good’ students cheat to get into competitive programs, because there is intense pressure from supporters to be successful. They may also cheat because they want to help their friends, their peers are already cheating, they have moral dissonance, and the list goes on. But if ‘good’ students also cheat, they must still be held accountable.

In fact, letting some students get away with cheating because they are ‘good students’ goes against the Fundamental Values of Academic Integrity. Honesty requires that those reviewing cases of alleged cheating “consider all sides.” Trust is only developed when students believe their cases are treated with consistent standards, and this fairness is only developed with the rules are applied consistently. We respect others when we show equal justice and hold all students to be responsible for their behavior.

Here are some ways to make sure you are following the fundamental values:


Report any student you suspect of cheating to the appropriate office. Do not try to handle it in-house just because the student is “really a good kid.” If you would report a student with a poor grade in your course, make sure you’re applying your standard consistently to the student with a good grade.

Make your sanctioning equitable. If you have flexible sanctioning, do not give a harsher sanction just because a student is doing poorly. Make sure your sanction is equal to the actions of the student, not to how you personally feel about the student.

Take a breath before meeting with the student or attending a hearing. It may feel personal when a student cheats, but it is likely not. It may feel especially personal when you have offered every opportunity for a student to improve in your course, but they cheat instead. Before you punish a student, listen with compassion to what they did and why they did it.

Academic Integrity Staff

Be transparent. Provide reports of cheating at your institutions that show sanctions. Students often see expulsion or exclusion in a policy and think that will automatically be the case for them. When students are aware of what is a fair sanction based on the course and the assignment, they can better advocate for themselves.

Work with students. This sounds simple, and I am sure some of you might be rolling your eyes. Maybe you are feeling cynical after you regular increase in caseloads from final exams; I know that pessimism can be challenging to shake. But listen to the issue the faculty is having and listen to the response from the student. If your job is to judge whether or not a student is guilty, you have to be an impartial judge. If your job is to sanction students that have cheated, then you are the one responsible for ensure fair sanctions are applied to all students. And if you are the one facilitating the process for faculty and students, then you have to work to build back that broken trust.   


If you serve on a student conduct hearing board, you have a unique responsibility to your institution. Not only should you have the courage to model appropriate and integrity-based behavior, but you also have a duty to treat your peers with respect and fairness, regardless of the grades they may have received. 

As you plan for this semester, how are you going to uphold the Fundamental Values? Tweet @TweetCAI to share your strategies.

As 2022 begins, many people are quoting Taylor Swift when they say they are "feeling '22'". However, just because we are hoping for a great start to the new year, or even just a better year than the one before, these hopes will likely go unrealized if we fail to put in the work. We need smart goals and resolutions to model integrity in our classrooms and campuses? Try adapting some of these:

  1. Immerse yourself in educational integrity.

Join the International Center for Academic Integrity as a member to gain access to resources and materials to promote integrity on your campus. Not sure where to start? Perhaps the McCabe-ICAI Academic Integrity Survey will give you a baseline for your institution. You may also want to join the annual conference - remotely! - in March. There is also additional support through regional consortia.

Add integrity to your inbox. Add Google News alerts to keep on top of educational integrity in the news. Start following some academic integrity practitioners on Twitter - you can even Tweet @TweetCAI with an academic integrity shoutout or follow the ICAI on Instagram (@academicintegritymatters) and Facebook for academic integrity related updates. Check your libraries and open access journals to find journals dedicated to educational integrity and follow them to see when they release new articles. You can also follow publishing ethics and get updates on which journals display predatory practices or are retracting papers.

  1. Spend time reviewing integrity.

Check your assignments to make sure they are designed with integrity in mind. Ensure comprehension with an oral component to your exams. Have your students include a statement about how they completed the assignment honestly and following your field's ethical code(s). Be as flexible with your students as you would want an instructor to be with you. You may find reviewing some previous blog posts and webinars useful in planning purposeful and integrity based assessments: 

Talk integrity beyond the syllabus. You should plan to bring up your academic integrity expectations before each assignment, but you can go further. Tie academic integrity into ethical practice for students in the field. Help your students develop integrity as a key value that they will always adhere to. Ask them, "What does integrity mean to you?" and hold them to their own standards.

  1. Discuss integrity with your colleagues.

Navigating academic integrity issues can feel like a minefield. Find common ground with your colleagues. You may be able to standardize a practice for academic integrity in the department or college's expectations for collusion. Decide which outside resources are appropriate for coursework. As a group,set requirements for citing sources on assignments beyond just following a citation style. Use this time to ensure that all instructors knows where and how to report any concerns related to academic integrity. 

Academic integrity should not remain in the shadows. Let's make 2022 the year of academic integrity and create our own resolutions for ethical and integrity based education.