Tracey Bretag, Associate Professor at the University of South Australia Business School and Editor-in-Chief of the International Journal for Educational Integrity, has recently joined the COPE Council and brings her expertise in research and publishing about the topic of educational integrity. We have met with her to talk about this new role and the trends in the field.
Educational integrity is a broad umbrella term which encompasses much more than academic integrity and research integrity taken singularly: it applies to everybody who is part of an educational institution.
Educational integrity is a broad umbrella term which encompasses much more than academic integrity and research integrity taken singularly: it is not just associated with students’ conduct and advice “not to cheat”; it is “something that applies to all stakeholders – staff, students, teachers, researchers, and absolutely everybody who is part of an educational institution”. And the term includes not only what happens in universities and colleges, but is also important for students at primary school and high school levels. Research integrity is also part of this: you cannot have research integrity if you haven’t been trained in educational integrity.
Everybody loves to hear the scandalous stories … so often when we use the word ‘integrity’ we start talking about what it’s not: cheating, contract cheating, predatory journals, research misconduct, and so on
There are several worrying trends in educational integrity, among which contract cheating – which occurs when students outsource their assessed work to third parties – is one of the most concerning (a dedicated article collection is ahead of publication). However, educational integrity is not all doom and gloom: “Everybody loves to hear the scandalous stories but we very rarely talk about the positive things”, says Prof. Bretag. “So often when we use that word we start talking about what it’s not: cheating, contract cheating, predatory journals, research misconduct, and so on”. Integrity is a positive term because it is about putting into practice the values we espouse as researchers and academics – honesty, trust, transparency and responsibility.
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Tracey Bretag teaches both undergraduate and postgraduate courses in the School of Management at the University of South Australia, while her research focuses on higher education policy and practice, and academic integrity. Since 2015 she has been the Director of the UniSA Business School Office for Academic Integrity. She is the Founding Editor of the International Journal for Educational Integrity, and is the Editor-in-Chief of the Handbook of Academic Integrity (2016) published by Springer. Associate Professor Bretag has received a number of awards throughout her career, including UniSA Scholarly Teaching and Postgraduate Lecturer of the Year Awards in 2003, Supported Teacher Awards from UniSA from 2005-2009, an Excellence in Teaching Award from UniSA Division of Business in 2010, an ESL Educator of the Year Award by the English as a Second Language Educators (SA) Inc in 2004 and a Certificate of Commendation for Research Excellence from UniSA Business School in 2014. Associate Professor Bretag has also received numerous grants from the Office for Learning and Teaching to improve academic integrity across Australian universities and to help prepare students for intercultural learning in Asia.