The Menace of Academic Misconduct

unleash-creativity

Author: Adekola Taylor
June, 2015

Introduction

The art of cheating in the academic settings has taken a new shape with the advancement in information technology and the prevalent use of internet. This is not to say that cheating has not been occurring in the academic settings before the wide use of internet; but the use of internet opens up another dimension of academic cheating. There are now many big online writing companies offering academic assistance to students all over the world, and making their thousands of dollar. Distance, time, and races are no constraint. These companies source human resources all over the world to complete assignments for students. If students do not patronize these online academic assistance companies, these companies would run out of business. Conversely, if these companies, in the first place, do not exist especially online, no students would patronize them. The paper will explore the significance, implications and possible solutions of the positions presented by Ed Dante in his article “The Shadow Scholar” and the articles on the academic misconducts in China.

The Shadow Scholar by Ed Dante


The author of the Shadow of Scholar, under the pseudonym Ed Dante, kept himself busy by charging a few cents a word to earn $66,000 in 2010 from students he helped in completing their assignments online. He had written many assignments, which included bachelor’s degree in accounting, hospitality, business administration, and a Ph.D. in sociology, a master’s degree in cognitive psychology, and many postgraduate assignments in international diplomacy for students online since he started his online academic ghostwriting in the year 2004 ( Dante, 2010). He had completed academic assignments for students for varying courses in theology, cinema, philosophy, history, ethics, literature, pharmacology, sports management, marketing, and so forth. As a matter of fact, he can complete any assignment given to him by the students through his access to the internet via the help of Wikipedia and Google Scholar. He has worked as an academic ghostwriter for many of the online academic assistance companies as well.



The story of Ed Dante shows the level of students' desperation to pass with high grades and the level of decadence in the modern education system. His story depicts the dirty details going on in the education system which educators seemed to ignore. If this story is true, then his testimony signifies that a lot need to be done in the modern academic system. The modern academic system needs to be reformed to face the challenges of dealing with the scourges inflicted on it through information technology, and the use of internet. I am not saying the use of information technology and internet is bad. As a matter of fact, the usage of internet and information technology (IT) has tremendously improved the education standard. We must not allow these advantages of IT and internet to make us ignore the wrong use of them by students to violate academic ethics. His story shows the shortcomings in the present day education system, and how the present day education system has been credentialed, and punctuated with decadence in moral growth and integrity.

The primary notion of writing assignments particularly in an academic setting is to submit well-research materials that are ethically acceptable, knowledge-contributing, original, reflecting the true understanding and creativity of students. However, when this primary notion is vanquished through academic misconduct like plagiarism, one of the key aims of education in creating and nurturing intellectualism and creativity are defeated. Plagiarism is referred to as the presentation or representation of somebody else’s ideas, thoughts or words as your own. The habit of plagiarism is regarded unacceptable because it frustrates the primary principles expected of students in producing their own works that originate from their own understanding. In his article, Ed Dante identifies three different types of students who seek for his service. These are the hopelessly deficient students, lazy rich kids, and language learners.

I consider it annoying to think that catching cheaters and expelling them out of institutions of higher learning would put an end to academic misconducts. Rather, we should look at the reasons that would make a student to pay an amount as high as $2000 for someone to write his assignment for him. However, students who migrate to the United States to complete their degrees may need English remedial classes, writing tutors, and so forth to help them. However, the lazy rich kids have no genuine excuse to seek for assistance. The problem of plagiarism should not stop at catching and dismissing the cheaters but must be addressed as a hydra-headed problem that needs a holistic approach. All the stakeholders in the education system have to be engaged in this battle against academic misconducts. From my own point of view, a high percentage of students that patronize Ed Dante are the wretchedly ill-equipped products of the public schools education system that are armed with nothing but desiring to have a degree at all cost.

If you are the type who has educated parents that cherished education, and, as a result, you went through good schools, had good academic support at home with good grades from high school, you can be considered fortune. In reality, majority of students seeking admission into colleges are deficient in the art of writing. Most of them cannot write coherent sentences, let alone 10-page research papers with academic referencing styles. Again, most of them neither know the various academic referencing styles nor to cite sources correctly. Many cannot think critically, and they have not been fully prepared to take up the challenges of the university. Therefore, when they eventually enter the university, they are expected by their lecturers to write papers with good citation without plagiarism which some of them are hearing for the first time. Many of them have to look outside to seek help.

There exist online academic assistance companies that are ever ready to proffer solutions to the problems of these students. They try it once, and they see how it is easy for them to have their assignments done. All they need is to read it and defend it, so they continue to come back for the same services. There are different educational ideas that need to be corrected in order to silence this hydra-headed monster called plagiarism in the academic setting. The education system all over the world especially in America laid too much emphasis on quantitative results rather than laying emphasis on the process of achieving the results. Emphasis is laid on high test scores, certification, and high school graduation rates, without bothering whether they have acquired the skills they needed to be acquired.

The problems elucidated through Ed Dante’s article cannot be solved by pointing fingers at the administrators, professors, students, admissions personnel, or even Dante; rather we should center on the real cause of the problems. Social services should be supported to make sure that children going to schools are emotionally and physically prepared to learn. This may sound funny, but it is vital, educators should find the ways of regulating and controlling online courses because many of the online students are engaged in the kind of academic misconducts divulged by Ed Dante, and they can never be caught. Quantitative tests should not be seen as the end of all, but rather we should go back to the principles of nurturing and guiding students and instructing them what they need to succeed academically. Creativity, critical thinking, and acquisition of skills should be emphasized and hold in high esteem. It is evident that if these students knew how to write, cite a paper correctly, think critically, and taught the art of writing, they would do their assignments on their own.

Academic Misconducts in China

Fake research papers, the exaggeration of academic credentials and plagiarism are very endemic in China. Some scientists, who want to be promoted by all means, are violating the ethics of academic writing in order to get papers that are written for them by someone to be published in international journals. Some of the main options they use include paying for a ghostwriter to write their papers for them, hiring a ghostwriter to fabricate or fake data for completion of their papers, self-plagiarizing via translation of already published materials in Chinese into English for resubmission, and buying papers from many online writing companies ( Hvistendahl, 2013). It is crystal clear that in the past decade, the research capacity of China experienced drastic growth, but this growth was not accompanied by the ethical standard of scientific investigation but punctured by academic misconducts. Many of these academic papers are characterized by lack of integrity, plagiarism, and falsification and fabrication of data (Cyranoski, 2012).

The situation becomes lamentable when the process transformed into a systemic academic fraud when scientists and ghostwriters agree to fabricate data for write-ups, create research papers or fabricate personal statements for ineligible grant applicants. I don't think the issues of moral and ethics are being considered in our present day education system anymore. As a matter of fact, there have been a lot of debates on the ethical and moral issues associated with online academic assistance. Whether we like it or not, the online academic assistance jobs are booming as more students and scientists are getting access to these writing companies online. For the fact that all academic resources needed to complete an academic assignment can be gotten online and also with booming business of online academic research assistance, many unscrupulous scientists are unethically using freelancers to complete their research papers.

The unruly and unethical behaviors that are recently prevalent among the so-called scientists in China would definitely hamper the development of science, hinder the growth of original science, and destroy the reputation and integrity of Chinese academics. Some of the factors that entice these unscrupulous scientists are performance-based subsidiary income, the desire to be promoted by all means, competitive research grants, and the use of quantitative research methodology rather than qualitative research method of merit (Yang, 2013). There are a lot of online research publishing companies who have authors who are ready to transfer their research papers for pay. These online companies are getting thousands of dollars through their services. They are in business because they are being patronized by some unscrupulous scientists who are desperate to get what they want without taking into consideration the academic ethics involved.

Effort must be made to educate young faculties, postdoctoral fellows, and graduate students about research ethics. In the quest to battle the academic misconducts that have eaten deeply into the fabric of Chinese research communities, the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC), and the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) have come up with a new code of ethics to guide researchers in life sciences (Yang, 2013). Different kinds of measure must be developed to make plagiarism, falsification, and fabrication of research data more difficult to practice and to make them easily detected. These measures should take into considerations number of patents awarded, total paper citation, peer review, and agencies involved in academic misconduct should be blacklisted and their clients when caught should receive stricter punishment. Research publishing companies are also keys contributors to these gross misconducts in the research mercenary. Research publishing companies need to be regulated and controlled. Many unscrupulous people have established them as a means of making themselves rich overnight; so they do not mind engaging in unethical dealings.

China should speedily implement the integration of promotion committees, prize nominators, and panels of reviewers into the systems to award titles and grants. Once the perpetrators realize that they would be caught through the formidable systems like the one underway in China, they would desist from such acts. The development and growth of science in China should be attached to the production of original breakthroughs, advancement of understanding from discoveries made elsewhere, and gaining global influence. The achievement of these aforementioned purposes can only be possible in an environment that have zero tolerance to academic misconduct, and an environment that is conducive, credible, and healthy for advancement of the scientific enterprise. In conclusion, apart from the SCI (science citation index) papers that are critical to promotions, other parameters should also be included in the promotion criteria needed to promote a researcher.

References

Cyranoski, David. (2012). Research ethics: Zero tolerance; a university cracks down on misconduct. Nature, 481: 134-136.

Ed Dante. (2010). The shadow scholar. The Chronicle Review,

Hvistendahl, Mara. (2013). China publication bazaar. Science, 342: 1035-1039

Yang, Wei. (2013). China publication bazaar. Science, 342: 1035-1039

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