Academic Culture in Transition:

Are Honour Codes a Viable Solution?

Joanne Badge

Nadya Yakovchuk

Jon Scott


The continuing advancement of electronic technology poses increasing challenges for ensuring authenticity in student academic work. Along with important changes to academic practice proposed within the holistic framework of addressing plagiarism (Carroll and Appleton, 2001; Carroll, 2002), a more global change to academic culture as a whole might be overdue, a change that would safeguard student (and staff) adherence to core academic values irrespective of advances in information technology and sophistication of information handling tools.

At the 2006 JISC Second International Plagiarism Conference, the focus among the academic community was clearly on moving towards a culture of academic integrity, which implies a positive representation of the ideas behind the avoidance of plagiarism, and an institution-wide emphasis on upholding these principles and promoting good academic practice.

The US honour code model might provide useful pointers as to how the transition towards a culture of academic integrity can be implemented. This model seems to offer a viable alternative to more traditional top-down approaches to ensuring proper academic practice among students.

So far, the research-grounded UK response to the idea of honour codes has been very limited. This paper reports on a recent cross-institutional study undertaken at the University of Leicester, whose purpose was to explore staff and student attitudes to the concept of academic integrity and the elements of the US honour code system, and to elicit participants’ views on the feasibility of applying this system in the UK setting.

This paper was submitted to the International Integrity & Plagiarism Conference which ran between 2004-2014. The paper was peer reviewed by an independent editorial board and features in the conference proceedings.