Friday, June 1, 2018

Quizlet App Misuse by University Students in Texas

Texas Christian University students received failing grades (but later had their suspensions cancelled) for using the Quizlet app to gain an unfair advantage in testing, calling into question the unethical aspects of this study help when students upload current test questions and share them ("Learning Tool or Cheating Aid?" Inside Higher Ed, May 14, 2018). While Quizlet posts an honor code on its web site, students may not know in advance that they are viewing a test question that will be on an upcoming exam. But if they see a Quizlet question on an exam, they are obligated to alert the professor that the question was seen online before the test. One professor noted that it would be best to rework questions each semester, but there may be a limit to how many different configurations can be used to state a question.

Discussion Questions:
  1. What would you do if you saw a question from Quizlet on an actual test?
  2. Should professors create new tests each semester to minimize cheating from students who share test questions from past exams? Why or why not?
  3. How could Quizlet be changed to prevent students from cheating?

Friday, April 13, 2018

Physician Accused of Scientific Misconduct and Fraud

A physician's credentials are being called into question but the National Academy of Medicine is finding it difficult to remove him as a member after he was found to have "plagiarized five research papers, fabricated an account of his personal exploits in Iraq, and claimed unearned degrees and awards" ("Doctors Urge Elite Academy to Expel a Member Over Charges of Plagiarism." The New York Times, April 9, 2018). The article discusses the impact of this academic dishonesty on the doctor whose work was misused and the medical textbook editors who didn't check for plagiarism before their book was published.

Discussion Questions:
  1. How would you feel if a colleague of yours said he was the author of your research?
  2. Should doctors be held to the same standard of academic integrity as college students? A higher standard? Why or why not?
  3. Should all books be checked for plagiarism before being published? Why or why not?

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Academic Dishonesty Returns to Cancer Research Lab

The Ohio State University (OSU) reported that one of its former star cancer researchers (who resigned in fall 2017) used false results fourteen times in eight reports ("University Is Quick to Disclose Misconduct." Science, April 6, 2018). Most notable about this revelation was that OSU was very forthcoming with this information almost immediately after concluding its investigation. The article mentions that OSU has been under fire for badly handling other recent scientific misconduct on campus including another cancer researcher who was the subject of a New York Times investigation.

Discussion Questions:
  1. If you received millions of dollars to conduct research, would you feel obligated to report more promising results than you actually observed so you could continue to get funding? Or would you clearly state what occurred in your research? 
  2. A university's reputation suffers harm and its research programs stand to lose external funding if researchers are not conducting and reporting results honestly. Do you think OSU was trying to repair damage from past incidents by reporting this story very quickly? Why or why not?
  3. If you were a student researcher in a lab where misconduct was occurring, would you risk your reputation and career to report the academic dishonesty of fellow students and/or professors? Why or why not?

Friday, February 9, 2018

UT Student Punished for Seeking Copies of Old Math Exams on Facebook

A University of Texas student who went online to request copies of old math tests by a professor received a penalty ("UT Student on Academic Probation after Posting in Facebook Group." The Daily Texan, January 29, 2018). While the university administrators said that they do not monitor online student activity, they will act if they are alerted about a suspected student conduct infraction.

Discussion Questions:
  1. While we do not know if the student actually received any of the requested exams and the answers to the questions, do you think it's fair that the student is put on academic probation for the act of asking for the exams? Why or why not?
  2. What should happen if a student supplied old exams by a professor upon request? Should that supplier get the same punishment as the requester?
  3. Do you think studying the old exams gives a student an unfair advantage in future testing? Why or why not?

Monday, January 15, 2018

College Courses Prepare Students for Ethical Issues at Work

In a time of polarizing workplace issues, professors are asking students to consider their moral and ethical obligations on the job beyond the bottom line ("Business Schools Now Teaching #MeToo, N.F.L. Protests and Trump." The New York Times, December 25, 2017). "Students have said ethical issues, not finances, are a business’s most important responsibility, according to a survey of business school students worldwide conducted by a United Nations group and Macquarie University in Australia."

Discussion Questions:
  1. Although a campus discussion of ethical and moral responsibility at work can be useful, how does a recent college graduate face corporate culture that condones discriminatory behavior?
  2. If you have experienced unethical actions at work, how did you handle the situation? Was the outcome fair to all parties affected?
  3. If a student in college does not already possess a moral compass of right and wrong, can a college class positively change his/her perceptions and actions? Why or why not?

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Common Knowledge or Plagiarism?

Seemingly inadequate paraphrasing and verbatim copying recently stung a noted poet and editor in her latest book ("Writers Step In to Defend Author Accused of Plagiarism in New York Times." The Guardian (UK), October 4, 2017). Yet, seventy-two well-known authors minimized the nature of the situation even though there appeared to be obvious and frequent word-for-word verbiage by Jill Bialosky, noting that the similarities were not a case of "egregious theft intentionally performed." Find examples of her writing compared to the original sources in the Tourniquet Review. In the letter of defense for Bialosky written by the seventy-two authors, it is mentioned that she included in her book "a handful of commonly known biographical facts gleaned from outside sources.”

Discussion Questions:
  1. Why would such a noted editor copy such a large amount of information from other sources and not cite it? Does she consider this information about other noted poets as common knowledge that doesn't need to be cited?
  2. Is there a particular amount of common knowledge that one can include in a 200+ page book before the text appears to be very unoriginal and providing few new insights on a topic?
  3. What motive would the seventy-two authors have for supporting this poet and editor if she indeed was guilty of plagiarism? Note that quite a number of these authors work with the same publishing house as Bialosky.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

When Stealing Is Not Okay in Professional Baseball

Using an Apple watch to relay them to their team, the Red Sox stole signs from the New York Yankees and had to pay the price levied by the Commissioner of Baseball Rob Manfred ("MLB Punishes Red Sox with Only a Fine for Apple Watch Scandal," Boston Herald, September 15, 2017). Actually, the Yankees had a fine imposed on them, too, and all MLB teams were put on notice that use of technology to steal signs may prompt more substantive penalties in the future. Interestingly, the fines will be going to Florida's hurricane recovery fund, since the two teams play spring training games in the state. League rules prohibit "hand-held devices" during a game and employing technology to take signs, although stealing signs unaided by communication equipment is allowed. Since the investigation found that the Yankees employed a dugout phone "illegally in a 'prior championship season,'" they were assessed a smaller fine.

Discussion Questions:
  1. Professional sports teams obviously have some rules that they need to follow for fair play, but since this penalty seems mild, are they likely to try some similar tactic to steal signs in the future, even with the threat of more severe punishment for new infractions? Why or why not?
  2. Do you think players and coaches that were involved in these illegal actions feel better about not playing by the rules since the fine money is going to a good cause, namely hurricane relief? Why or why not?
  3. Do these actions by both teams hurt the team or players reputations? Or are sports teams expected to do anything to win, even if it means going against the rules? Do their fans care that they acted illegally? Why or why not?