Evaluation of Policies for Academic Integrity in Higher Education: An International Perspective

  • Irene Glendinning

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


    Academic Integrity is central to the security of higher education academic standards and qualifications. However in recent years threats to integrity and educational quality have increased throughout the world because of high rates of academic misconduct. The author of the portfolio was Principal Investigator and project leader for the EU funded project Impact of Policies for Plagiarism in Higher Education Across Europe(IPPHEAE, 2010-2013) and has continued to build on the findings from the research since the project ended. Over 5000 survey responses were collected from over 200 institutions across 27 European Union (EU) countries, through on-line questionnaires, interviews and focus groups, involving higher education students, academics, managers, researchers and people concerned with HE nationally.

    The portfolio draws on the authors significant contributions to the IPPHEAE research which explored the nature and efficacy of institutional policies designed to address these threats and promote ethical and scholarly academic conduct.

    Although some effective policies were evident, for example in UK, Sweden, Austria and Slovakia, the findings indicated that much more could be done in every country studied to improve guidance and support given to both students and teachers. Great disparities were evident across Europe in what was perceived as acceptable academic conduct, procedures to investigate allegations of student cheating and penalties applied for different offences.

    This initial research highlighted inherent inconsistencies, lack of transparency and unfairness in student outcomes. It is remarkable that such major policy and conceptual differences should exist despite moves to harmonise educational systems across the EU. There was a perception among survey respondents that outcomes and penalties for students found to be cheating would vary within an institution according to which lecturer found the problem.

    The author’s contributions to the body of knowledge include a unique insight into how well HEIs in different part of Europe appreciate current challenges to academic integrity and how their perceptions are driving national and institutional policies.

    Key outputs from the authors’ own research include the Academic Integrity Maturity Model (AIMM), which calculates a maturity profile for each country studies based on nine metrics, calculated from the survey data. AIMM was applied in the country-by-country report comparing policies across the 27 EU countries. AIMM has since been repurposed as an institutional evaluation and benchmarking tool and forms the basis for the Scorecard for Academic Integrity Development (SAID).

    The portfolio contains five different publications that cover the main elements of the authors’ research in this specific field: a journal paper, a conference paper, a book chapter, the EU-wide comparison report and an expert witness report presented to an international forum. All the publications have been subject to peer review.

    Given the vast scale and scope of this research, the author has collaborated with many other researchers in the course of the underlying research and developments. Eight main co-researchers were given access to the portfolio and draft thesis and each has provided a statement about their view of the research. The author is now building on earlier research, in conjunction with the global research community.

    Further funding has just been provided to extend IPPHEAE to the Balkan region (Council of Europe) and to create a European Network for Academic Integrity (Erasmus+). The long-term goal is to improve the security and integrity of qualifications and systems in education and research throughout the world. Only if the future leaders of government, business, education and commerce become convinced of the need for ethical values and integrity, will we begin to see long-term positive changes to cultural values affecting wider society.
    Date of Award2016
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • Coventry University

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