What are the potential implications and consequences of these claims?
The more obviously accurate implication (to me) is that U.S. institutions are not doing an adequate job of discussing academic integrity with international students. There is clearly room for improvement in the way this matter is addressed and taught. It all too easy to make assumptions that we all share the same values and ethics when it comes to academic work, but clearly there are cultural differences in how these topics are broached in students' home countries.
Is there a difference in academic ethics across the globe?
There is certainly a difference in perspectives on originality, authority, and intellectual property. This becomes even more pronounced when coupled with the "lack of formal misconduct policies in many countries and operationally vague polices on plagiarism where they do exist."
Heitman, E., & Litewka, S. (2011, February). International perspectives on plagiarism and considerations for teaching international trainees. In Urologic Oncology: Seminars and Original Investigations (Vol. 29, No. 1, pp. 104-108). Elsevier.
What can higher education do to address these concerns?
Should the administration spend more money on software that can detect text-matching, hire additional staff to ensure that international students are more thoroughly screened before admission, or place higher standards for English Language writing ability?
Should institutions develop a more comprehensive approach to teaching academic integrity and making the consequences more explicit?
In a 2011 study looking at differences in educational ethics between five different countries, the following solution was proposed:
a more comprehensive approach can be taken by universities to not only eliminate loopholes but create a code of conduct and culture of academic integrity that spans globally; creating more ethical students, while reducing temptation the to cheat. Having a code of conduct and living a culture of academic integrity is important for any institution; “institutions of higher education that live the ethics and values contained in their mission statements produce graduates who are highly valued and sought by ethical organizations."
Hilliard, H., Crudele, T., Matulich, E., & McMurrian, R. (2011). International educational ethics: Asia, South Pacific, Europe, Canada and Latin America. Journal of Academic and Business Ethics, 3, 1.
Is it possible or desired to develop an international code of educational ethics?
In 2009, the International Association of Universities began discussing the need for an "international code or guidelines on ethical conduct for higher education institutions that articulates how, as institutions, they promote academic and scientific integrity and prevent academic dishonest and unethical behavior by actors and stakeholders that form the academic community."
The resulting document can be viewed by selecting the IAU-MCO link to the right. Although the document sets forth calls to action about upholding, representing, and disseminating information about academic and scientific integrity, it does little to set forth concrete definitions or exemplars of specific ethical behavior. While I applaud the efforts of the IAU committee that generated this statement on ethical standards, I can't help but wonder if it is enough for ensuring that there is a common understanding of what constitutes a violation of academic integrity.
Drawing from the information culled from the articles in Part I of this blog series, it seems apparent that a general code of ethics is acknowledged by most countries but that the cultural and social interpretation of those rules. For the time being, I think the burden falls on the individual institutions to specifically and purposefully create courses/workshops/lessons that target not only the meaning and intention of academic and scientific integrity, but also include components that directly address cultural differences in interpretation. As suggested by Hilliard et al. (2011) such a class should also clearly lay out the short and long term institutional and professional consequences stemming from violations.