Academic Integrity and Engaging your Librarians

Topics: Blog, Spotlight

Academic Libraries and their staff across campuses worldwide focus on supporting students in their learning journeys. Using information literacy tools, they contribute to students critical thinking skills and work with students to help them understand their role in contributing to the “scholarly conversation” in their disciplines.

The Association of College and Research Libraries Framework on Information Literacy highlights many areas in which students are developing their “knowledge practices” and “dispositions” as information literate individuals. Working within this framework librarians have an opportunity to speak to the students’ role in producing scholarship and their commitment to sourcing material that is based on truthful, authoritative knowledge that has been shared throughout a lifetime of scholarly exploration. Librarians are experts in situating academic integrity within this scholarly conversation.

At the University of Calgary we have a team of four librarians who work with the Academic Integrity Coordinator in the Student Success Centre to deliver programming year round.  This dynamic team works together to offer sessions to students interested in learning more about academic integrity as well as those who have academic misconduct violations. The benefits of engaging your librarians in this type of teaching are endless and go beyond the librarians understanding of plagiarism or citation. By taking time to explore how knowledge is constructed they provide examples as to why there is great importance placed on the ICAI fundamental values. Librarians bring their insights into how knowledge is constructed and why it is a priority to create knowledge that is honest, trustworthy and fair. By digging deep into topics such as the origins of the anti-vaccination movement and the role misinformation plays in pushing false research forward, students better understand the impact unethical research can have on themselves and the planet. They work with the librarians to see themselves as content creators actively contributing to the scholarly conversation and the impact they can have when they work with integrity.

Librarians are great at reaching out to your surrounding communities. At the University of Calgary our librarians work with local High Schools and are often requested to cover the topic of academic integrity during high school research sessions. By simply taking the time to explore the timeline around the development of insulin and diabetes research high school students can visually see why working with integrity matters. By looking at a 1922 reference list from a Frederick Banting and Charles Best article students can see a scholarly conversation starting and they can see the role an authoritative 1889 publication from Oskar Minkowski and Joseph Von Mering played in setting a foundation for the discovery of insulin. Discussion around “what if they didn’t work with integrity” happens and puts students critical thinking to the test. Tying in topics like fairness within areas like intellectual property and copyright and connecting those to examples from the music industry like the writing and publishing of Ariana Grande’s “7 Rings” song really engages students in thinking about giving credit to others and their responsibilities around citation.

There are many ways librarians in your institutions can creatively embed academic integrity into teaching both within traditional information literacy classes as well as within a student services context. Engaging them as partners will enhance the understanding of academic integrity on your campus.

Banting, F. G., Best, C. H., Collip, J. B., Campbell, W. R., & Fletcher, A. A. (1922). Pancreatic extracts in the treatment of diabetes mellitus. Canadian Medical Association Journal12(3), 141.

About the Author
Leeanne Morrow is the Associate University Librarian for Student Learning and Engagement at the University of Calgary. She has a keen interest in everything related to the intersections between librarianship and academic integrity and engagement with students.
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