ACADEMIC INTEGRITY IN SPANISH UNIVERSITIES: ANALYSIS OF THE ANNUAL REPORTS OF UNIVERSITY OMBUDSMEN
Balearic Islands University (SPAIN)
About this paper:
Conference name: 15th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 8-9 March, 2021
Location: Online Conference
Abstract:The University Ombudsman in Spain is an institution defined as the guarantor of the rights and freedoms of the members of the respective universities (students, academic staff and administrative and managerial staff) if they understand that they have been injured by the university administration. Amongst other competences, university ombudsmen deal with appeals regarding academic misconduct cases (i.e. cases of plagiarism amongst students, cases of cheating during tests, etc.). The study that we present in this paper it is based on the analysis of 137 annual reports published, between 2015 and 2019, by the ombudsmen of 54 Spanish universities.
We conducted our research using a content analysis approach with the aim of responding to several research questions:
1) To what extent has the subject of academic fraud (dishonesty) been dealt with by the Ombudsmen of Spanish universities?
2) What are the issues of dishonesty/fraud addressed by the Spanish universities’ ombudsmen?
3) What decisions have the Spanish universities ombudsmen made? What recommendations?
The main results of our study suggest that Spanish universities ombudsmen don’t deal with a relevant number of academic integrity cases, it seems that such cases do not arrive to this body. From the data gathered, the main cases dealt with have to do with: academic plagiarism and cheating in evaluation activities. And as regards of the recommendations made by ombudsmen in their annual reports, the main focus are:
- Expression of concern about the issue of academic integrity, beyond the extent of the phenomenon
- References to the lack of a normative/regulatory framework regarding academic misconduct and fraud and its consequences
- References to the need to establish clear criteria and action protocols to deal with academic integrity cases
- References to the need to aware and train students on the topics of academic integrity and emphasize the culture of respect for intellectual rights
- Recommendations to use plagiarism detection programs/software
This paper is part of the activities carried out in the project "Academic integrity amongst postgraduate students: empirical approach and intervention proposals" (Reference: RTI2018-098314-B-I00) is funded and supported by the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation (MCI), the National Research Agency (AEI) and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).
Keywords: Academic integrity, plagiarism, university policies.