• Integrity in postgraduate research

    In a rapidly changing and competitive higher education sector, postgraduate research education is also experiencing changing practices. Our research in six Australian universities challenges the presumption of HDR students holding prior knowledge of academic integrity. Our findings indicate that many postgraduate students are undertaking the research phase of their academic careers seriously under-prepared and ill-informed of their institution’s requirements. We propose that Australian universities should aim to induct postgraduate research students into an overarching institutional culture of integrity.[1].

    Evidence-based policy and support framework to foster integrity in postgraduate research (Mahmud & Bretag  2013)

    We propose a framework for policy and support for integrity in postgraduate research that consists of:

    1. A commitment to foster a culture of academic integrity
    2. Academic integrity policy that includes the five core elements of exemplary policy, i.e. access, approach, responsibility, detail and support.
    3. Policy on integrity in postgraduate research that meets the standards of exemplary academic integrity policy.
    4. Measures to enact such policy including adherence to the Code, consistency in policy and practice, and socialisation of trainees with researchers modelling responsible research practice.

    Dr Saadia Mahmud recently presented a poster based on  her research with Dr Tracey Bretag, 'Making the link  between between academic integrity and research integrity for postgraduate students', at the 3rd World Conference on Research Integrity, Montreal, Canada, and a poster 'Beyond compliane: Nuturing an institutional culture of integrity' at the Australasian Research Managers Conference (ARMS 2013), Adelaide, Australia on 12 September, 2013. Click on the poster image below to open the file. The photo of Dr Saadia Mahmud wih Professor Melissa Anderson, Conference Convenor of 3WCRI was taken on 8 May, 2013 at Montreal, Canada.

    Dr Saadia Mahmud with 3WCRI Convenor Prof Melissa Anderson

    The posters above refers to Mahmud & Bretag (2014) review of 9 online academic integrity policies for HDR students against the Code and the five core elements of exemplary policy identified by the Academic Integrity Standards Project i.e. Access, Approach, Responsibility, Detail and Support. The authors found inconsistency with the Code in the definition of research misconduct and a lack of adequate detail and support. We propose linking the specific requirements for postgraduate research students from a university’s main academic integrity policy to ensure a consistent and educative approach to integrity across the university. The poster presented at ARMS 2013 includes the Evidence-based policy and support framework to foster integrity in postgraduate research.[2].


    [1] Mahmud, S. & Bretag T. (2013). Postgraduate research students and academic integrity: ‘It's about good research training’. Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management, 35(4),432-443.

    [2] Mahmud, S. & Bretag T. (2013). Fostering integrity in postgraduate research: An evidence-based policy and support framework. Accountability in Research,  DOI:10.1080/08989621.2014.847668 published online 18 November.