Academic Integrity in a Cultural Context

Academic Integrity in a Cultural Context

During life we have to think about the assumption that the words we write could be classed as intellectual property in the western world we create laws and rules to govern ownership of intellectual property. The trade body World Intellectual Property Organisation looks at intellectual property as “industrial entities who’ve had the contours of their regulatory monopolies violated,” or “people who’ve had their property stolen”. (World Intellectual Property Organization, 1967)

However ideas toward intellectual property have changed over time (Bowden, 1996). Are our words, actions, creations that we create constructed on information that has been founded on knowledge that each of us learns, has it taken in and then replayed as and when we need it, even paraphrasing to complete our tasks and actions at home, office, or academic life?

Globalization and the use of the internet now as a source for information, learning (online education), entertainment and news, has become popular from 2000 – 2012 growth of 566.4% and approximately 34.3% (Miniwatts Marketing Group, 2014) of the world population now has access to the internet. This ubiquitous access to information has changed the way people think about information and data ownership. Just as the internet was setup to be an information sharing hub so users could connect and share materials: the definition “Internet: providing a variety of information and communication facilities to its users” (Oxford University Press, 1974). So the thought of the internet being a sharing mechanism has led to the thought materials are shared, publically available for download and therefore are available to be used when they might actually be copyrighted, protected under confidentially or even someone else’s work.

The newer generations might see the internet as an open and sharing environment and don’t see an issue with taking a selfie or copying someone’s work because of the belief that once it’s has be put on the internet it’s available to everyone to use unless explicitly marked, they believe you can access it then the materials are “Public Domain” that it has been made available on the internet for public interest.

How this effects companies and the workplace can be hard to enforce or create understanding on. As an employee joining a company or a student joining a course you might sign a confidentially agreement, code of conduct stating you will obey the ethics rules and material usage rules. These rules might outline the materials are not yours they are the organisations even when you’re at home because the organisation could have allowed you to learn what you leant and you have used that learning to create your thoughts. This thought is now becoming harder and harder to understand for people as we have seen we spend more time connected to each other. Leaks on Twitter or WikiLeaks or using information can cause direct and indirect effects, people are held accountable for leaking or using materials even if they are no longer with that company. The Edward Snowden leaks from the US National Security Agency in 2013 showed interesting thoughts again toward information that was leaked, copied and published in the name of public interest and once available were then redistributed, republished and copied even more. (DESILVER, 2014)


Bowden, D., 1996. Stolen Voices: Plagiarism and Authentic Voice.. Composition Studies/Freshman English News, 24(1-2), pp. 05-18.

DESILVER, D., 2014. Most young Americans say Snowden has served the public interest, Washington: Pew Research Center.

Macfarlane, B., 2009. Researching with Integrity: The ethics of academic equiry. NewYork: Routledge.

Miniwatts Marketing Group, 2014. Internet World Stats. [Online]
Available at:
[Accessed 29 03 2014].

Oxford University Press, 1974. Oxford English Dictionary, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

World Intellectual Property Organization, 1967. Convention establishing the World Intellectual Property Organization. Stockholm: United Nations.