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Academic Integrity and the Nursing Profession

In education, integrity is a critical aspect. Essentially, academic integrity implies intellectual honesty. Integrity centers on the use of information in the development of arguments and in related activities such as seeking knowledge and understanding (Zinie, 2008). Put differently, honesty is a core principle that underpins how the scholarship community lives, learns and disperses information.

However, members of the academic community are entitled to many freedoms while pursuing knowledge (American Political Science Association, 2008)). Like in any other discipline, a wider degree of freedom comes with a larger scope of responsibilities requiring people to uphold high standards. As a result, scholars are expected to uphold high ethical academic standards whenever engaging in any scholarly exercise. The academic codes of conduct, across the world give guidelines on required conduct, define violations, and outlines details on the process of adjudication whenever an offense takes place (Kenneth, Smith & Easterling, 2004).

Irrespective of the nature of academic misconduct, punitive or corrective measures must be doled to serve as an example to the rest of the academic fraternity. In this regard, the issue of a student presenting another person’s paper and assuming its ownership should be seen as a form of academic misconduct.

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It should be noted that five fundamental principles are critical in understanding the concept of academic integrity. They include: trust, honesty, respect, fairness and responsibility (West, Ravenscroft & Shrader, 2004). Thus, academic excellence depends on these aforementioned values. Each student or scholar is bound to observe the values to ensure academic integrity is upheld. It is on this basis that an argument is made against the use of another person’s paper in the pretext that it is one’s own.

It should be noted that a respectable education system is built by many hardworking individuals who carry out honest work.

However, it is deceptive and humiliating when few individuals undermine the integrity test. By violating the tenets of integrity often has the potential of watering the gains made in building a reputation. Thus, the very first aspect that emerges is that whoever presents another person’s paper as his/her own, is cheating or being dishonest. Although the student may end up scoring high marks, such scores are not a true reflection of the academic standing of the person in question. Moreover, in the knowledge that one can acquire a paper to present would contribute towards laziness. Since students know they can present other peoples’ papers, they will not be under any obligation to do research to enable them to process their papers for presentation. As a result, the student suffers by failing to learn since s/he relies on other peoples’ works. Overall, the level at which a graduate that relies on other peoples’ work is qualified would remain highly questionable.

Scanlon (2008) noted that reliance on another person’s work undermines innovation among the users. A person who relies on the work done by others loses their ability to be creative. With the loss of creativity, the overall worth of the graduates is diminished. Any society would cherish having creative persons. Hence, a society suffers from academic deception.

It is also significant to note that learning is both an individual and collective activity. As Robin (2004) observed, knowledge creation includes dialogue by a person or persons with the intellectual community. Hence, acknowledging each participant’s contribution is necessary. This would not only serve motivational purposes, but will also serve recognition or acknowledgement functions. Thus, those people who present others’ papers ought to clearly indicate that the documents presented have been prepared by other persons. Acknowledgment equates to taking responsibility that the work presented has the input of another person.

Education has various roles including empowerment (Royal Shakespeare Company, 2007). Put clearly, education empowers an individual to express ideas using his or her own intellectual capacity in regards to dialoguing with colleagues. Thus, each scholar has an opportunity to share his/her views on an issue of academic interest. However, by taking another person’s paper and presenting it as one’s own, the opportunity or chance to participate in academic dialogue is forfeited. Scholars by their nature should take pride in their contributions towards scholarship. Hence, they should pride in their ideas by respecting other peoples’ works. In a different way, the presentation of another person’s paper equates to the abdication of roles and disrespect for fellow scholars. Abdication of roles occurs when one relinquishes the chance to do what is expected of them. On the other hand, disrespect emerges in the sense that a scholar or a student deceives the scholar community by purporting to be the author of a paper, yet knowing that s/he did not develop it.

In understanding the significance of opposing the presentation of another person’s paper as one’s own, it is necessary to re-examine the principles of integrity. Honesty is the first tenet under review. Honesty refers to upholding respect when searching for and using knowledge (Lynch, 2012). This principle requires students and academic staff to be honest when conducting research and dealing amongst themselves. Students are required to be honest with themselves, their peers and the academic staff. As a result, when taking part in any academic endeavor, students are expected to observe all guidelines without failure.

The above point touches on academic honesty which is a pillar of ethical conduct. As a student or a nursing professional, one is required to be honest in order to be deemed successful (West, Ravenscroft & Shrader, 2004). In this regard, the only way to achieve academic excellence is to observe the rules. In observing the rules, no student or professional can present another’s paper, and claim its ownership.

The second attribute is that of trust. Trust stems from the principle of honesty which is discussed above. It should be noted that without trust, society would encounter several difficulties in executing its activities (Lynch, 2012). Society sends students to school because it has trust on its institutions. The institutions also strengthen the trust by adopting mission statements that complement societal goals. In practice, the academic staff trust that the institution supports honest scholarly practice. Similarly, the students trust that staff will guide their learning activities by ensuring that institutional values are observed. The academic staff also trusts that the students will carry out each engagement honestly in pursuit of their goals. More importantly, all parties trust that only capable and qualified students would graduate and be allowed to practice their professions. As such, nursing practitioners are expected to have honestly acquired their credentials. Only after such acquisition, are the nursing professionals trusted to deliver quality services. Moreover, the society trusts that all nursing professionals are qualified to deliver services. Hence, the presentation of a paper which is borrowed or bought annuls the trust that is held among the various parties in the society.

The other significant principle lies on fairness. There is an expectation in the academic community that each person is treated fairly. Institutional processes, practices and standards should reflect fairness (Robin, 2004). Hence, all interactions at an institutional level ought to reflect fairness. The judgments on and by staff should be above board. The assessments of the students should also be fair. Now, in the case of a student presenting another’s paper as his/her own, the pursuit of fairness would be compromised. This is because fairness encompasses assessments on papers presented for various purposes. When one presents a paper that is done by a different person, the teaching staff is denied the opportunity to judge fairly. Put in simple terms, the student presenting a paper that is not his/hers does not offer herself/himself for evaluation or judgment. Moreover, such a student is awarded marks that are not reflective of their abilities. Thus, when the students graduate, and are expected to practice as professionals an element of unfairness emerges in the sense that the practitioner in question may not be qualified. A worse aspect is that the recipients of services are denied the opportunity to know the capability of the professionals since their ratings for graduation were based on bought/borrowed papers.

As already pointed, the use of other people’s papers undermines the learning exercise among students. In a typical classroom arrangement, learners would prefer to pursue both the performance and mastery goals approaches (Lynch, 2012). In addition, the students would seek other social goals such as the need to please teachers or parents. The need to coordinate the goals entails having an opportunity to chase more goals while attempting to avoid falling into circumstances that compromise the pursuit of one of the many goals. Clearly, this complicates the move towards goal attainment. The idea of complexity is real since focusing on one goal equates to sacrificing commitments to another goal. Such indicates that students should learn how to balance the learning exercises. It is also worth noting that student abilities differ across goals and the maturity to discern the difference in time requirements may be beyond the grasp of learners (Zinie, 2008). As such, consequences attributable to failure or success would affect the learners although they may be unaware on the most suitable approach to use in the pursuit of the different goals (Zinie, 2008).

The final tenet considered is responsibility. In any academic community, each participant has a right to ensure that academic integrity and values are observed (Lynch, 2012). As always, rights are linked with responsibilities. Thus, each person in the academic profession has an obligation to ensure that integrity in scholarship is upheld. In this regard, presenting a paper written by another person is viewed as role abdication. The position is held since those entrusted with the responsibility of protecting the integrity of scholarship are the ones that endanger it. An individual who fails to take responsibility while studying cannot be trusted to take it when he becomes a professional. Hence, nursing professionals who may present papers from other sources, as their own, whether, while practicing or when they were learning are viewed as irresponsible, and would harm the reputation of the nursing profession.

Another critical aspect that must be mentioned is plagiarism. Plagiarism is the presentation of another person’s ideas as if they were one’s own (Lynch, 2012). Thus, plagiarism encompasses all the above principles of scholarship and academic integrity. It is only by observing the above principles that the issue of plagiarize is dealt with. Students who know that they can plagiarize are more likely to be demotivated from working hard.

The aspect of motivation is pivotal in attempting to understand the heights of success that individuals scale (Zinie, 2008). A given percentage of individuals reveal high adaptive capacity depending on the levels of motivation they come across. Those individuals who are motivated the highest are viewed as the ones that have the best chance to excel. Whereas some enjoy facing challenges, some participants show withdrawal signs and remain likely to pull out of the exercise if they are unable to match the pace of those individuals they are working alongside in class. This indicates that employing the performance goals approach alone would predispose some participants to levels they cannot match. In reference to the discovery, employing the multiple goals approach would present the best approach in ensuring that all participating students cope with the learning demands. Concisely, understanding how motivation varies is critically valuable. Such an understanding would allow instructors or teachers to devise other mechanisms that guarantee that each student is given the attention due to them as observed by Grant and Dweck (2003) s that they learn the value of being original.

My Behavior and Intervention

My own behavior is not without altercations. While in my first year during my undergraduate course, I was grouped with three other students to do an assignment entailing class presentations. Since the topic was wide, we subdivided it into four sections and assigned each ember a part. So each person independently worked on his/her part before we compiled the wok for presentation. On the presentation day, it emerged that two of the group members had presented plagiarized parts. In the end, our paper was cancelled and we were warned about our conduct. Despite our pleas that we did the work in divisions, we were penalized.

My academic behavior has been beyond reproach, albeit in my assessment. Not one time, have I copied other peoples’ work or used another student’s work. In brief I have observed the five tenets of academic integrity as earlier outlined in the paper. However, in that instance, I was caught although I was indirectly involved. Having been found, I decided to propose an intervention to avoid falling into the same trap again.

In every assignment given whether group or individual based, I commit to observing all the rules given. If it is individual I go about searching for information and acknowledging all sources. However, in the case of group work, I often ask my colleagues to be mindful of ethical obligations to fulfill their student mandates by being truthful. I also insist on doing the work collectively and step by step in order to deny any ill-minded student from seeking undue help from somewhere else. Upon the completion of assignments, I encourage my colleagues to seek the help of the instructor in pre-checking the work for any inconsistencies from expectations to allow for corrections. After confirming the authenticity or originality of the work, it is submitted.


In the current ties, scandals emerge at an alarming rate. Thus, each passing day, the place of reputation gains more relevancy. It is not surprising that institutions are working hard to build lasting reputations by observing integrity principles. While working hard to build a reputation, institutions recognise the danger involved since a single issue is enough to ruin a long lasting position that takes time to build. As observed from above, key stakeholders such as teaching staff, students and others have a crucial role to play in safeguarding the integrity of their institutions. As a result, each party whether a student or an official is obliged to observe, uphold and protect the rules. In this, regard, a student who presents a paper done by another person does an injustice not only to himself, but also to the institution. Moreover, the larger society is also wronged since any person owes the society.

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