Man on the Street: Professors profit off their own textbooks
August 30, 2018
Professors often write and require their own textbooks for their classes. Students that do not purchase these texts may see their grades plummet in the class as a result. Is it ethical for professors to be profiting off this conflict of interest? There are alternatives to requiring this text such as providing cheaper options or allowing students to purchase used copies. There are some cases where professors require a brand new edition, and this is often thought to be motivated by the financial benefit.
Certain universities are taking steps to make sure this is not the case and that is does not become an abuse of power in the classroom. Here are some thoughts from students at UH when they heard about the ethics of this situation.
“They shouldn’t be required textbooks. They can be recommended texts, and if you’ve written a text, it should fall under that. You can’t make students pay more and more for their own education. I don’t think it needs regulation against it, but profiting off students so unfairly should really be looked down upon.” Kristen Erps is a doctoral student in the school of psychology. |Anusheh Siddique/The Cougar
“There’s a smarter approach than requiring it. If you care about student financials, you can and should make it easier. If they want tenure, they need those citations and the easiest way to get those is requiring a text. It’s a scheme. If you require a textbook you’ve written, it should be the only required text in the class.” Guillermo Ortega is a graduate student in higher education. |Anusheh Siddique/The Cougar
“I had a professor who discussed it in the class. He told us that that money doesn’t go directly to him, it goes to his daughter or back into the school system or into enriching his curriculum. It can be justified.” Breanna Cotton is a restaurant management junior. |Anusheh Siddique/The Cougar
“I don’t think it is unethical for a professor to profit. They wrote a book because they were the foremost in their field, and they have the experience to speak on the topic. If they’re a lawyer and they use a certain strategy that deserves to be a part of the curriculum, there’s nothing wrong with that. If they’re unqualified or not the foremost and required a text they published, that’s different. I am a senior and I’ve only come across cases like that twice.” Nader Irsan is a senior in political science. |Anusheh Siddique/The Cougar
“It is suspect to require your own textbook. If it weren’t for that class, that book would probably never get read by anyone. It just shouldn’t be required if it was written by that professor. At best it should be supplemental. You don’t want a class dominated by only one point of view, and having a professor teach his own book encourages that.” Darrell Hooker is a graduate student in higher education. |Anusheh Siddique/The Cougar