Academic Integrity In Engineering

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Citing honestly scares me. Every time I have had to write an academic paper, I have wondered if I am doing it correctly or if my writing will be mistaken as deliberately deceptive. I do not have to write a lot of papers in my professional career and citing has has never been a skill I needed to use often enough in high school or even undergraduate school to become proficient at it.

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As such, when I have had to write, I have actively avoided referencing other works. To date, I have not once been accused of plagiarism and I have never received low enough marks on a paper to lead me to believe that I should have tried harder to reference other works when building my arguments. This could certainly be the one though.

I do not think that my feelings toward citations are uncommon among engineers. Citing is just an unfamiliar skill for some, but that does not give anyone an excuse to write without giving proper credit to the original author. In my case, if I were to leave out a citation that should be there, that would still be a form of dishonesty because I would have withheld information that was expected to be there. However, if I were trying to pass the information off as my own original thought, that would be a deliberate deception and probably lying as well. (Charles E. Harris, Pritchard, Ray W. James, Englehardt, & Rabbins, 2018). Both of these are forms of plagiarism by the standards of many publications regardless of the fact that one is done intentionally and one unknowingly (Stone, 2003).

In high school, I never would have thought to cheat on assignments. I was fortunate then in the way that most of the topics we covered came easily to me. In my undergraduate years, there was significantly higher pressure to cheat. The material became increasingly harder every year, opportunities for misconduct were more plentiful, and there were scholarships I would have lost if I did not do well enough. I identified heavily with the reasons listed by Hardings report in one of the articles (Erwin, 2004). The extent of my own misconduct included looking up some homework problems online to get help on how to work them. I can rationalize that I often only needed help understanding how to solve the problems better, but the methods were still less than virtuous. I even (bitterly) remember one problem where I know I copied the answer exactly and I regret the attempt. 80% of the class had already dropped the course and I was very close to receiving a failing grade myself, something that had never happened to me at that point. I spent a disproportionate amount of my time working on that class and any opportunity to finish the homework more quickly was welcome.

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