When we think about the responsibilities of academic libraries, sourcing and acquiring research content as well as advising on how to find existing content for specific topics might come to mind. But one field that librarians are actively supporting is academic integrity. At a time where “contract cheating” and “outsourcing” essays, is a very real issue that academic institutions are confronted with, librarians are stepping in to educate students on academic integrity.
Dr. Sarah Elaine Eaton is an Associate Professor at the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary and an international leader on academic integrity and ethics in higher education. She believes that libraries themselves can serve as a hub for academic integrity and educational ethics on campus. Not only can students receive advice on how to find high quality sources and the correct way to cite these but also help students become advocates and agents of their own learning.
At the University of Calgary, librarians have partnered with the Student Success Centre and started to host events around academic integrity and ethics for students. They organise student and trivia contests as well as events in the library, where students can go and ask questions to get information on the topic. According to Eaton, there is so much librarians can do, but of course they need the time and resources and support to do it.
It is important to address educational integrity early on in the academic journey, so institutions can be sure, that students graduating from their institutions have earned their credentials. “You don't want to go into the office of a medical doctor, and then find out that that medical doctor has cheated their way through medical school,” says Eaton.
Academic integrity in the classroom is the foundation for ethical decision making in life and skills that students learn around academic integrity, will be taken beyond the classroom.
Eaton, who is also the Editor in Chief of the Open Access International Journal for Educational Integrity, has recently launched a new book series called Ethics and Integrity in Educational Contexts. This series extends beyond traditional and narrow concepts of academic integrity to broader interpretations of applied ethics in education, including corruption and ethical questions relating to instruction, assessment, and educational leadership. It also seeks to promote social justice, diversity, equity, and inclusion. The first volume, titled Academic Integrity in Canada, co-edited with Julia Christensen Hughes, has recently been published at Springer Nature as an open access book.
If you are interested in hearing more about Ethics and Integrity in Educational Contexts, we invite you to listen to Dr. Sarah Elaine Eaton’s podcast series on the topic here.