Academic Integrity in Canadian Universities

A post from John Paul Foxe, Educational Developer, TA/GA Program:

This past week CBC News has run a series of articles on academic integrity in Canadian Universities.

Cheating students punished by the 1000s, but many more go undetected

Campus cheaters hire custom essay writers to avoid detection

Custom-made essays give no guarantee of good marks

Professors and TA/GAs who grade student papers need to be on the look out for potential breaches of academic integrity. Below, you will find ten cues that may signal the paper should be examined closely or investigate further:

  1. Citation styles and bibliographic citations are inconsistent and mixed or non-existent. The style guide used is not the one used for the course.
  2. The paper is clearly written at a level beyond the student’s usual abilities and may include advanced vocabulary, jargon or combined formal and informal language.
  3. The paper contains a mix of Canadian, American and British spellings (tire/tyre for example) or regionalisms.
  4. Inconsistencies from one submitted assignment to another, for example, the second essay is far superior.
  5. The references used throughout the paper are dated (all more than five years old, for example.) Such cases may indicate that the paper was purchased through an essay writing service or written by another student. An excessive number of inactive web sites may also indicate that the paper is old.
  6. References are made to tables, diagrams, pieces of text or citations when none of this content exists in the paper.
  7. References are made to obscure journals or books not readily available in local libraries. (Be cautious here, however. Through its electronic databases, the Ryerson Library and other universities throughout Ontario subscribe to thousands of international journals that may be obscure.) Check the Ryerson Library Journal List.
  8. The topic of the paper is inconsistent with the one assigned, or with course content.
  9. Parts of the paper are inconsistent with each other and the writing style changes from section to section.
  10. When asked, the student cannot produce any research notes for the paper or summarize the main points in the paper

For more information on academic integrity please see Issue 3 of The LTO Best Practices – TA/GA Edition on academic integrity and Ryerson University’s academic integrity website.

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