Higher Education

, Volume 69, Issue 3, pp 435–448 | Cite as

Who teaches academic integrity and how do they teach it?

  • Erika Löfström
  • Tiffany Trotman
  • Mary Furnari
  • Kerry Shephard


Whose role is it to teach academic integrity to university students? We explored academics’ conceptions about their role in promoting academic integrity in two countries, namely New Zealand and Finland. We used Q methodology to find common configurations of perspectives that can help us understand the premises based on which academics approach the tasks and roles associated with teaching academic integrity. The 56 academics in our sample were asked to sort 42 statements highlighting a broad spectrum of perspectives on academic integrity and the teaching of it, and answer some related interview questions. A centroid factor analysis using PQMethod software resulted in five configurations of views with distinctive characteristics. We used three frameworks to interrogate these differences: (1) possible narrative from a students’ perspective, (2) Biggs’s levels of thinking about teaching, and (3) an ethical interpretation. Academics at our institutions appear united in respecting the importance of academic integrity, but not of one mind about what it is, how it should be taught, whether or not it can be taught, whose responsibility it is to teach it, and how to handle cases of misconduct. The results suggest that teachers are confused about integrity policies extant in higher education and about their roles within these.


Academic integrity Higher education Research supervision Values education Q methodology 


  1. Alfredo, K., & Hart, H. (2011). The university and the responsible conduct of research: Who is responsible for what? Science and Engineering Ethics, 17, 447–457.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Aluede, O., Omoregie, E. O., & Osa-Edoh, G. I. (2006). Academic dishonesty as a contemporary problem in higher education: How can academic advisers help. Reading Improvement, 43(2), 97–106.Google Scholar
  3. Anderson, M. S., & Louis, K. S. (1994). The graduate student experience and subscription to the norms of science. Research in Higher Education, 35(3), 273–299.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Biggs, J., & Tang, K. (2007). Teaching for quality learning at university (3rd ed.). Maidenhead, UK: Society for Research into Higher Education & Open University.Google Scholar
  5. Brown, S. R. (1996). Q methodology and qualitative research. Qualitative Health Research, 6(4), 561–567.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Burr, V., & King, N. (2012). ‘You’re in Cruel England Now!’: Teaching research ethics through reality television. Psychology Learning and Teaching, 11, 22–29.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. East, J. (2010). Judging plagiarism: A problem of morality and convention. Higher Education, 59, 69–83.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. East, J., & Donnelly, L. (2012). Taking responsibility for academic integrity: A collaborative teaching and learning design. Journal of University Teaching and Learning Practice, 9(3), http://ro.uow.edu.au/jutlp/vol9/iss3/2. Accessed 20 June 2013.
  9. Escámez, J., López, R. G., & Jover, G. (2008). Restructuring university degree programmes: a new opportunity for ethics education? Journal of Moral Education, 37(1), 41–53.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Ferguson, K., Masur, S., Olson, L., Ramirez, J., Robyn, E., & Schmaling, K. (2007). Enhancing the culture of research ethics on university campuses. Journal of Academic Ethics, 5, 189–198.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Finnish Advisory Board on Research Integrity (2009). Ethical principles of research in the humanities and social and behavioural sciences and proposals for ethical review. Helsinki. Retrieved from http://dev.tenk.fi/sites/tenk.fi/files/ethicalprinciples.pdf June 19, 2013.
  12. Gilmore, J., Strickland, D., Timmerman, B., Maher, M., & Feldon, D. (2010). Weeds in the flower garden: An exploration of plagiarism in graduate students’ research proposals and its connection to enculturation, ESL, and contextual factors. International Journal for Educational Integrity, 6(1), 13–28.Google Scholar
  13. Gray, P. W., & Jordan, S. R. (2012). Supervision and academic integrity: Supervisors as exemplars and mentors. Journal of Academic Ethics, 10, 299–311.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Gynnild, V., & Gotschalk, P. (2008). Promoting academic integrity at a Midwestern University: Critical review and current challenges. International Journal for Educational Integrity, 4, 41–59.Google Scholar
  15. Ison, D. (2012). Plagiarism among dissertations: Prevalence at online institutions. Journal of Academic Ethics, 10(3), 227–236.Google Scholar
  16. Lin, C.-H. S., & Wen, L.-Y. M. (2007). Academic dishonesty in higher education—a nationwide study in Taiwan. Higher Education, 54, 85–97.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Löfström, E. & Kupila, P. (2013). The Instructional challenges of student plagiarism. Journal of Academic Ethics, 11(3), 231–242.Google Scholar
  18. Macfarlane, B. (2009). Researching with integrity. The ethics of academic enquiry. Abingdon, U.K.: Taylor & Francis.Google Scholar
  19. McCabe, D. L. (1993). Faculty responses to academic dishonesty: Honour codes and other contextual influences. Research in Higher Education, 34, 647–658.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. McKillup, S., & McKillup, R. (2007). An assessment strategy that pre-empts plagiarism. International Journal for Educational Integrity, 3(2), 18–26.Google Scholar
  21. Mirshekary, S., & Lawrence, A. D. K. (2009). Academic and business ethical misconduct and cultural values: A cross national comparison. Journal of Academic Ethics, 7, 141–157.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Numminen, O., Leino-Kilpi, H., van der Arend, A., & Katajisto, J. (2011). Comparison of nurse educators’ and nursing students’ descriptions of teaching codes of ethics. Nursing Ethics, 18(5), 710–724.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Pearson, M., & Brew, A. (2002). Research training and supervision development. Studies in Higher Education, 27(2), 135–150.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Pratt, D. D. (1998). Five perspectives on teaching in adult and higher education. Malabar, FL: Krieger Publishing Company.Google Scholar
  25. Schmolck, P. (2013). The Q Method Page. http://schmolck.userweb.mwn.de/qmethod/#PQMethod (October 16, 2013 update). Accessed 14 February, 2014.
  26. Shephard, K., Harland, T., Stein, S., & Tidswell, T. (2011). Preparing an application for a higher-education teaching-excellence award: Whose foot fits Cinderella’s shoe?. Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management, 33(1), 47–56.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Stenner, P., Watts, S., & Worrell, M. (2008). Q Methodology. In C. Willig & W. Stainton Rogers (Eds.), The Sage handbook of qualitative research methods in psychology (pp. 215–239). London: Sage.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Trigwell, K., & Prosser, M. (1996). Congruence between intention and strategy in university science teachers’ approaches to teaching. Higher Education, 32, 77–87.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Trotman, T., Furnari, M., Löfström, E., & Shephard, K. (2013). Developing a research instrument for academic integrity in higher education: let’s start by asking the right questions. In A. Nayak & S. Saddiqui (Eds.), From policy to practice - Bridging the gap. A collection of talks presented at the 6th APCEI (Asia Pacific Conference on Educational Integrity (pp. 112–133). Maquarie University. Retrieved from http://web.science.mq.edu.au/conferences/6apcei/Proceedings/6APCEI_Proceedings.pdf. Accessed 24 June 2014.
  30. True, G., Alexander, L. B., & Richman, K. A. (2011). Misbehaviors of front-line research personnel and the integrity of community-based research. Journal of Empirical Research on Human Research Ethics, 6, 3–12.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Turner, S. P., & Beemsterboer, P. L. (2003). Enhancing academic integrity: Formulating effective honor codes. Journal of Dental Education, 67(10), 1122–1129.Google Scholar
  32. Vallentyne, P. (2012). Libertarianism. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Spring 2012 Edition, first published in 2002), E. N. Zalta (Ed.), http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/spr2012/entries/libertarianism Accessed 10 January 2014.
  33. Watts, S., & Stenner, P. (2005). Doing Q methodology: Theory, method and interpretation. Qualitative Research in Psychology, 2, 67–91.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Zucchero, R. A. (2008). Can psychology ethics be integrated into introductory psychology? Journal of Academic Ethics, 6, 245–257.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Erika Löfström
    • 1
  • Tiffany Trotman
    • 2
  • Mary Furnari
    • 3
  • Kerry Shephard
    • 3
  1. 1.Centre for Research and Development of Higher EducationUniversity of HelsinkiHelsinkiFinland
  2. 2.Division of HumanitiesUniversity of OtagoDunedinNew Zealand
  3. 3.Higher Education Development CentreUniversity of OtagoDunedinNew Zealand

Personalised recommendations