Brief Comment on Intellectual Property in U.S. Academic Culture

Posted by on May 5, 2017 
Filed under Academic Products


Brief Comment on Intellectual Property in Academic Culture of the U.S.


When I was a student majored architecture in undergraduate school, I was thrilled when seeing China Pavilion (He Jingtang, 2009) at Shanghai Expo 2010. Its structure reminded me with Chinese traditional buildings: the height and width made it look massive, and the red color was as bright as flame. It was hard to describe how excited I was to see a well-combined structure with traditional and modern buildings. However, with a huge disappointment, I heard that it was suspected of having a same inner structure with a Japanese temple designed by Tadao Ando in 2000, and it also looked like Hanoi Museum (gmp-von Gerkan, Marg and Partners Architects, 2009) in Vietnam. Consequently, I felt totally disappointed and treated the China Pavilion as a fake.


International Students and Academic Integrity in American Academic Culture

Singleton (2011) stated that it is the unique design that made a building precious, and monetary payment is a measurable and direct way to recognize its value. Thus, intellectual property law plays an irreplaceable role for designers. Not only in art sphere, “academic integrity” is deemed of great significance among all academic field. There is no doubt that due to the diversity of political, economic, and cultural system, Eastern and Western scholars sometimes may have different opinions in understanding the concepts of “academic integrity” and “plagiarism”. We see these academic moral concepts, for example, “intellectual property” as a more western concept in multiple ways, especially for the reason that it can be traced back to 1624 in England (Merges, 2011).


Since many international students do not know well about American academic culture before their first arriving to the States, they may be astonished by school honor code.  Compared to other academic culture, originality always goes first in America, and the integrity test turn to be extremely rigorous. According to Zhao and Wang (2008), scholars in China are inclined to write “critical” papers and thesis, while in western countries more attention are payed to doing research, thus, more scholars dedicate themselves to scientific tests and experiments. Previous ideas are crucial for individuals who are studying in higher education.

Undoubtedly, it is our duty to cite former researchers’ names and specific dates for showing appreciate. However, Neville (2010) claimed that, there are unavoidable anxiety even among American domestic students due to those over-strict citation rules. For international students, they may be facing a circumstance which is more challenging. If we turn back the clock, Chinese international students were praised for their carefulness and diligence. However, part of Chinese students are not as honest as prior ones in some professors’ eyes. To name only a few, they are suspected of cheating on exams, doing false citation, and self-plagiarism on different courses (Zhao, Wang. 2008).


Advice for Mason Incoming International Students

Had I given a chance to provide advice to Mason incoming international students, I would concentrate on the problems of cheating and plagiarizing. First, be familiar with school honor code and never duplicate others’ work, no matter what kind of work it is. According to The Mason Honor Code (2016), academic cheating may be both crucial and easily overlooked. Cheating work can be unauthorized assistance in exams, prior work of other students, or even one’s own prior work. Especially, when doing group work, it is necessary to communicate with other students and share ideas with them. But the grade could be a F without critical thinking. Second, use quote mark correctly in direct quotation. For international students who are unfamiliar with the English language, directly paraphrasing is indeed a convenient approach of presenting opinions from multiple perspectives. Regrettably, international students sometimes are put into trouble when doing false citation because of limitation on English language. Third, be careful when doing indirect citation. We are supposed to read materials carefully, then try to “translate” authors’ ideas into our own words. Taking notes of main points during reading should be helpful as well, for we are able to go through the key information before set about writing our paper. Fortunately, we have EAP class and PROV class at Mason for incoming international students to help with academic writing. As a result, we are unlikely to violate school honor code.






Singleton. R (2011). Architecture and intellectual property. Insight, 15 (3), pp. 294-296


Neville. C (2010). Complete Guide to Referencing and Avoiding Plagiarism (2). New York, NY: Open University Press


Merges. R. P (2011). Justifying intellectual property. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press


Zhao. S. & Wang. X (2008). A comparative study of Chinese and foreign academic evaluation system. Chinese Marketing, 5, pp. 128-130


The Mason Honor Code (2016, October, 19).

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