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Ensuring academic honesty and integrity amongst students has always been a chief concern of institutions of higher education. However, the vast changes that the higher education system in America has undergone during the course of the twentieth century have introduced a plethora of various social and cultural phenomena that have served to complicate the issue of academic honesty. The single most important change was the transformation and exponential expansion of the college-going population. Simply put, the relative proportion of Americans attending college increased dramatically over the last hundred years. Because of programs that are funded by the federal government, like the GI Bill, students are guaranteed to receive student loans and grants, many segments of the population who had not previously considered college a feasible alternative were matriculating in droves. For American colleges and universities, this massive influx of students posed a serious logistical problem in ensuring that previously staunch standards of academic integrity not be weakened or compromised. Challenges to academic honesty are most commonly known as:
- Inappropriate Collaboration
- Research Misconduct
Internet and Academic Research
Another cultural phenomenon that has rivaled the increase of student body populations in terms of the significance of the challenge to academic integrity has been the widespread advent of the Internet. Never before has such a wealth of data been available to be accessed by the general public. Although the implications of the Internet as an academic research tool are extremely beneficial, the inevitable downside of the Internet resources being exploited in various ways that defy the spirit of university academic misconduct policies.
Academic Misconduct and Expansion of the Internet
With the extremely rapid rate of expansion of the Internet and similar technological innovations, the bureaucratic mechanism of codifying academic misconduct policies at universities often lags behind the innovation of new forms of plagiarism or academic dishonesty. The end result of this disparity in rates of expansion is that the academic misconduct codes of some institutions of higher learning fail to address the potentialities embodied by the Internet and other new technology.