Be ready to be a hero when you can

The lesson about academic integrity is the first lesson I had when I became a graduate student at Virginia Tech. It was required by the university and the funding agency which found me. When it came to quizzes and tests, I can choose the correct answer most of the time. It seems easy. Just be a good person and do the right thing. If you talk to people, they will say: yes, we need ethics and integrity. I have not heard anyone said “ethics is not a good thing” or “I do not have integrity.” But, will it still be an easy thing when I really face the situation in real life?

After watching an interactive movie, I have a deeper understanding of academic integrity. The movie is called The Lab. In this movie, a research misconduct happened and the lab got dismissed. Then time went back to before the misconduct happened. You can choose a character in the movie to play. I chose the graduate student because I am one.  As the story went, I felt the stress the student had. Sometimes it really hard to choose because it felt so real. I chose some option that looked like a “soft” solution, and I found that it did not work as I expected. I started to think if I report someone, what will happen to me and how that will affect my career? I will be isolated. I guess no one likes the feeling of having a sword hanging over the head.

Knowing that it’s would cause a hard situation to me if I choose integrity and against my colleagues, I feel heroic. It would be hard, but I’m not afraid. I’m a researcher who dare to challenge the standards and authorities. Why would I be afraid of being isolated? And being a Ph.D. student means being able to conduct research independently. Why would I be afraid of being alone? The great researchers are the ones with integrity. I would not be lonely as long as I’m with those great minds.