Academic honesty, academic writing


Feedback submitted to IBCA by participants at a DP Extended Essay workshop in Mombasa, 2010.

The headlines say it all: more and more students are cheating, at school and at university. Are they? Or are we more aware of the problems, and therefore more alert and “catching” more?

We all know what plagiarism is, don’t we? Except that studies and tests show that, faced with the same piece of writing, many teachers accept it as authentic and others think it plagiarised. We are not all on the same page.

Turnitin and other plagiarism detectors solve the problem, don’t they? Except that they don’t detect plagiarism, they are far from infallible, and some of them are downright dangerous!

We can’t stop cheating, can we, it’s in the culture? We probably can’t – but we CAN change school culture, we can keep the middle 60%* on the right track, and we can reduce the need and the opportunities for the 20% who may be as likely to cheat as not. . We can certainly eliminate accidental and unintentional plagiarism.

I offer Academic Honesty workshops and presentations which are informative, practical, empowering – and fun! They stick.

For teachers. For students. For parents too.

Two-day, one-day and half-day worshops, single sessions too, tailored to your needs.

Get in touch, let’s talk!

* Teddi Fishman, “Achieving what we can: editorial,” Ethos, January 2013, 1.

Workshops and presentations include (click on the marked titles for more details)

[expand title=”Honesty honestly – an alternative approach to academic honesty”]

Research studies and experience suggest that many students just do not understand citation and referencing. They seem to know the rules, yet they still make mistakes, sometimes with heavy consequences.

For those who do understand, there is no problem. For those who understand what is expected by way of good practice, the main difficulty may be understanding the understandings of those who do not understand, those who do not mean to cheat but who still break “the rules.”

In this paper, I investigate sources of confusion, and possible disconnects between those who teach citation and referencing and those who learn and use these techniques. The study includes a series of surveys of librarians, teachers and students. The paper includes a number of strategies and techniques to promote better understanding and better practice. Professional paper presented at the Annual International IASL Conference in Maastricht, June 2015. [/expand]

[expand title=”The honourable delegate: academic honesty in the MUN setting (and beyond…).”]
“Honourable” is not an empty word. Diplomacy is founded on integrity, trust, respect and honour. Honesty and academic honesty are key aspects of our respect and trust for others, and of our own personal integrity. These are life attitudes and skills and expectations. They matter, not just in MUN, and not just in schoolwork, but in all aspects of our lives, inside and outside education. In this workshop, we look at why, when and how to use information and ideas that are not our own honestly, ethically, and honourably. (THIMUN Qatar Leadership Conference, Doha, 2014.)[/expand]

[expand title=”Using other people’s work, without stress and without tears.”]

Most cheating is clear-cut: students (and teachers) know they are doing something wrong, something which will give them unfair advantage over others, or which unfairly disadvantages others. This includes deliberate plagiarism.

Experience backed by anecdotal and research evidence suggests that many students (and teachers) come a cropper when using other people’s work. It is not that they intend to cheat, it’s that they make mistakes, mistakes which, despite lack of intent, can have devastating consequences in terms of marks, grades, assessments, reputations. So often, they know but they don’t know, they know but they don’t understand, they think they know so they do not bother to learn.

What is worse: accidental, unintentional plagiarism is far more common than is deliberate plagiarism, but the consequences are just as heavy, just as serious.

In this session, we demystify the requirements of referencing and citation, and demonstrate and discuss approaches which work. We also give opportunity for participants to check what they have always wanted to know, but were too frightened to ask (there being NO dumb questions). (Workshop/ presentation at the 7th triennial ECIS librarians’ conference, Waterloo, Belgium, 2014.) [/expand]

[expand title=”Honesty honestly”]
We expect authentic work from our students, but this does not mean that they are completely on their own, expected to work with no outside assistance or support at all. In this session we explore the bounds of authenticity. As well as human support, we look at the support given by digital and online services such as citation generators and plagiarism detectors. Is it ethical to use them? Just how effective are they, anyway, do they help or hinder learning and authenticity? (ECIS November Conference, Amsterdam, 2013)[/expand]

[expand title=”Honesty honestly – a positive approach to academic honesty”]
It is all too easy, when promoting academic honesty, to concentrate on what is not acceptable, to put the emphasis on academic dishonesty, on plagiarism avoidance for instance, and on consequences and punishment. Research suggests that this approach does not always help students and may confuse many. Nor does it help when different teachers – and parents – have different ideas about what is acceptable and what isn’t.
In this session, we look at and share positive approaches to promoting academically acceptable behaviour and practice, from the earliest years through to year 12.  (ECIS November Conference, Nice, 2012)[/expand]

[expand title=”Changing Attitudes : Getting from Plagiarism and Punishment to Positive Practice.”] The problems are wide-spread: from students who find that the way they have always worked is no longer accepted, to students confused by different expectations of different teachers, to teachers frustrated with students submitting work clearly not their own, to schools with inconsistent approaches. In this session we look at what schools and colleges are doing, and at what works (and what does not) in the journey to consensus, common understanding and the promotion of good practice.
(This session was first presented at the 2009 ECIS November Conference, and delivered as a lecture by VoiceThread to the International School of London, Qatar.
It developed into a Professional Paper presented at the 4th International Plagiarism Conference in Newcastle, June 2010.)

[expand title=”Copyright, copyleft, copyfree a journey through the copyright maze (with Ahu Özkarahan).”]
(1) The laws of copyright are often vague. In aiming to be fair (cf. ‘fair use’, ‘fair dealing’ and similar terms) and flexible, it is often difficult, even for lawyers, to determine whether a given use is an infringement until the case comes to court – and even then, different judges may give different decisions, even in very similar circumstances. (2) There is no such thing as “international copyright”, even amongst countries which have signed up to the Berne Convention or its successors, even amongst signatories to the European Union Copyright Directive. (3) Teachers (especially in international schools) come from different backgrounds and experiences, so have different expectations and awarenesses of what is, and what is not, allowed, acceptable or permissible, they have different understandings of ‘educational fair use’. (4) Except where big money is involved, the penalties for copyright infringement tend to be small and inconsequential. So does it matter? Why bother? Why should we be concerned?
In this session with Ahu Özkarahan at the 2008 Autumn Teachers’ Conference in Istanbul, and at the ECIS November Conference 2008 in Nice, we investigate these thoughts [/expand]

[expand title=”Academic honesty : investigating the grey areas.”]
Often, cases of cheating are open-and-shut, cut-and-dried. Very often, it’s less clear, especially when different teachers have different understandings of cheating and how to handle it. Is there such a thing as accidental plagiarism? Are there degrees of guilt? Is it possible to be both fair and consistent in one’s handling of plagiarism and other forms of cheating? This workshop raises more questions than answers – but if there were easy answers to the problem, there wouldn’t be a problem! Here we investigate the grey areas, note how academic honesty policies and procedures enable degrees of fairness, consistency and transparency, and consider the effectiveness of honor codes.

(The presentation was first made at the 2006 Autumn Teachers’ Conference. Later and revised versions of this workshop have been presented at the ECIS November Conference 2006, the School Library Association Training Weekend June 2007, and the IB AEM Summer Workshops for Librarians New to the Diploma Programme in July 2007.)[/expand]


[expand title=”Plagiarism : keeping up with the cheats / Plagiarism : beating the cheats.”]

These presentations evolved over time and according to audience. They were presented at School Library Association Training Weekend, University of Cardiff, June 2001, and the CEESA Conference in Istanbul, March 2001; at the ECIS Annual Conference, Den Haag, November 2001, and at the Autumn Teachers’ Conference, MEF Schools, Istanbul, October 2000.[/expand]



Honesty Honestly – a workshop on academic honesty and academic integrity. (one-day workshop, audience of librarians from school, university, public and private sectors, University College London-Qatar, Doha, Qatar.

Honesty, honestly (two-day workshop, in-service for teachers and for students), American School of Doha, Qatar.

Honesty, honestly (two-day workshop, in-service for teachers and for students), Qatar Academy, Doha, Qatar.

ECIS Pre-Conference Institute (full one-day workshop), Amsterdam, Netherlands.

Ibicus IB DP Academic Honesty Workshop (2.5 days), Manchester, UK.

Tarsus American College, (0.5 days) Tarsus, Turkey.

Published works include:

“Quis custodiet: investigating the investigators” in The School Librarian, 49 (4), Winter 2001. Print.

Trust or Trussed? Has Got It All Wrapped Up?” published in Teacher Librarian 30 (4), April 2003. Print/Web.
This no longer available on the Teacher Librarian web site, but is accessed here through the Internet Archive.

“Plagiarism: wheat and chaff” in Access, 17 (3), August 2003. Print.

“Changing Attitudes: from Plagiarism and Punishment to Positive Practice.” Paper presented at the 4th International Plagiarism Conference, Newcastle, June 2010. The abstract, paper, and slides are all available.


Credit where it’s due: the school library preventing plagiarism. Published 2011 by and available from the School Library Association.

You will find a full list of my published papers and articles on the
About Me page.

My other presentations and workshops:

Academic honesty
critical thinking
extended research essay
technology, effects and issues
search and research
reading, literacy and information literacy
the portfolio