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Academic dishonesty or academic misconduct is any type of cheating that occurs in relation to a formal academic exercise. It can include

  • Plagiarism—The adoption or reproduction of ideas or words or statements of another person without due acknowledgment.
  • Fabrication—The falsification of data, information, or citations in any formal academic exercise.
  • Deception—Providing false information to an instructor concerning a formal academic exercise—e.g., giving a false excuse for missing a deadline or falsely claiming to have submitted work.
  • Cheating—Any attempt to give or obtain assistance in a formal academic exercise (like an examination) without due acknowledgment.
  • Sabotage—Acting to prevent others from completing their work. This includes cutting pages out of library books or willfully disrupting the experiments of others.

Academic dishonesty has been documented in most every type of educational setting, from elementary school to graduate school, and has been met with varying degrees of approbation throughout history. Today, educated society tends to take a very negative view of academic dishonesty.

History of Academic DishonestyEdit

In antiquity, the notion of intellectual property did not exist. Ideas were the common property of the literate elite. Books were published by hand-copying them. Scholars freely made digests or commentaries on other works, which could contain as much or as little original material as the author desired. There was no standard system of citation, because printing—and its resulting fixed pagination—was in the future. In effect, scholars were an elite and a small one, who knew and generally trusted each other. This system continued through the European Middle Ages. Education was in Latin and occasionally Greek. Some scholars were monks, lived in monasteries, and spent much of their time copying manuscripts. Other scholars were in urban universities and were vaguely connected to the Roman Catholic Church. [How to reference and link to summary or text]

Academic dishonesty dates back to the first tests. Scholars note that cheating was prevalent on the Chinese civil service exams thousands of years ago, even when cheating carried the penalty of death for both examinee and examiner.[1] Before the founding of the MLA and the APA at end of the 19th century, there were no set rules on how to properly cite quotations from others' writings, which may have caused many cases of plagiarism out of ignorance."[2].

In the late 1800s and early 1900s, cheating was widespread at college campuses in the United States, and was not considered dishonorable among students.[3] It has been estimated that as many as two-thirds of students cheated at some point of their college careers at the turn of the 20th century.[4] Fraternities often operated so-called essay mills, where term papers were kept on file and could be resubmitted over and over again by different students, often with the only change being the name on the paper. At that time, college students, usually white privileged men, were expected by their parents and by society to live the life of the young gentleman, and were required to fulfill a number of social obligations (make connections with the future elite, find a suitable mate, become independent) that were considered far more important than grades.[How to reference and link to summary or text] Accordingly, cheating was commonly used by students to put more time towards fulfilling their social obligations at the expense of their academic ones. As higher education in the U.S. trended towards meritocracy, however, a greater emphasis was put on anti-cheating policies, and the newly diverse student bodies tended to arrive with a more negative view of academic dishonesty.

Academic dishonesty todayEdit

Academic dishonesty is endemic in all levels of education. In the United States, studies show that 20% of students started cheating in the first grade[5] Similarly, other studies reveal that currently in the U.S., 56% of middle school students and 70% of high school students have cheated.[6]

Students are not the only ones to cheat in an academic setting. A study among North Carolina school teachers found that some 35 percent of respondents said they had witnessed their colleagues cheating in one form or another. The rise of high-stakes testing and the consequences of the results on the teacher is cited as a reason why a teacher might want to inflate the results of their students.[7]

The first scholarly studies in the 1960s of academic dishonesty in higher education found that nationally in the U.S., somewhere between 50%-70% of college students had cheated at least once.[8] While nationally, these rates of cheating in the U.S. remain stable today, there are large disparities between different schools, depending on the size, selectivity, and anti-cheating policies of the school. Generally, the smaller and more selective the college, the less cheating occurs there. For instance, the number of students who have engaged in academic dishonesty at small elite liberal arts colleges can be as low as 15%-20%, while cheating at large public universities can be as high as 75%.[9] Moreover, researchers have found that students who attend a school with an honor code are less likely to cheat than students at schools with other ways of enforcing academic integrity.[10] As for graduate education, a recent study found that 56% of MBA students admitted cheating, along with 54% of graduate students in engineering, 48% in education, and 45% in law.[11]

While research on academic dishonesty in other countries is minimal, anecdotal evidence suggests cheating could be even more common in countries like Japan.[12]


Further information: Plagiarism

Plagiarism is the adoption or reproduction of the ideas or words or statements of another person without due acknowledgment. This can range from borrowing without attribution a particularly apt phrase, to paraphrasing someone else's original idea without citation, to wholesale contract cheating. When plagiarizing, students will often turn to the Internet, due the ease of copying and pasting from websites. Other more old fashioned forms of plagiarism such as paper mills and passing off obscure articles or chapters of books of others as original work also still occur. Plagiarized papers are often riddled with gross inconsistencies such as referencing non-existent sections of the essay, changes in spelling and grammar customs, or the argument changing in mid-paragraph.


Fabrication is the falsification of data, information, or citations in any formal academic exercise. This includes making up citations to back up arguments or inventing quotations. Fabrication predominates in the natural sciences, where students sometimes fudge numbers to make experiments "work". It includes data falsification, in which false claims are made about research performed, including selective submitting of results to exclude inconvenient data to generating bogus data.

There is also the practice of dry-labbing—which can occur in chemistry or other lab courses, in which the teacher clearly expects the experiment to yield certain results (which confirm established laws), so the student starts from the results and works backward, calculating what the experimental data should be, often adding variation to the data. In some cases, the lab report is written before the experiment is conducted—in some cases, the experiment is never carried out. In either case, the results are what the instructor expects. [How to reference and link to summary or text]


Deception is providing false information to a teacher/instructor concerning a formal academic exercise. Examples of this include taking more time on a take-home test than is allowed, giving a dishonest excuse when asking for a deadline extension, or falsely claiming to have submitted work. This type of academic misconduct is often considered softer than the more obvious forms of cheating, and otherwise-honest students sometimes engage in this type of dishonesty without considering themselves cheaters. It is also sometimes done by students who have failed to complete an assignment, to avoid responsibility for doing so.


Sabotage is when a student prevents others from completing their work. This includes cutting pages out of library books or willfully disrupting the experiments of others. Sabotage is usually only found in highly competitive, cutthroat environments, such as at extremely elite schools where class rankings are highly prized.

Some medical-school librarians have noted that important articles—required reading for key courses—are frequently missing from bound journals—sliced out with razor blades, scalpels, or other sharp blades. Other journals will be marked up in crayon. [How to reference and link to summary or text]


Further information: Cheating

Cheating can take the form of crib notes, looking over someone's shoulder during an exam, or any forbidden sharing of information between students regarding an exam or exercise. Many elaborate methods of cheating have been developed over the years. For instance, students have been documented hiding notes in the bathroom toilet tank, in the brims of their baseball caps, or up their sleeves. (Mad (magazine) once suggested writing notes in the inside of one's eyelids.[How to reference and link to summary or text]) Also, the storing of information in graphing calculators, pagers, cell phones, and other electronic devices has cropped up since the information revolution began. While students have long surreptitiously scanned the tests of those seated near them, some students actively try to aid those who are trying to cheat. Methods of secretly signaling the right answer to friends are quite varied, ranging from coded sneezes or pencil tapping to high-pitched noises beyond the hearing range of most teachers. Cheating differs from most other forms of academic dishonesty, in that people can engage in it without benefiting themselves academically at all. For example, a student who illicitly telegraphed answers to a friend during a test would be cheating, even though the student's own work is in no way affected. Another example of academic dishonesty is a dialogue between students in the same class but in two different time periods, both of which a test is scheduled for that day. If the student in the earlier time period informs the other student in the later period about the test; that is considered academic dishonesty, even though the first student has not benefitted himself. This form of cheating—though deprecated—could conceivably be called altruistic.

Carl Djerassi remembers that in his Viennese high school, he and other boys would use Morse code, learned in the Boy Scouts, to communicate during exams: they were helped by the teacher's ignorance of the code and his inattentiveness to visible but cryptic finger signals.[13]

Some teachers will simply collect crib notes before an exam without penalty, on the principle that the student who prepared them had summarized the course material compactly and would likely remember it.

Causes of academic dishonestyEdit

There are a variety of causes of academic misconduct. Researchers have studied the correlation of cheating to personal characteristics, demographics, contextual factors, methods of deterring misconduct, even stages of moral development.

Incentives to cheatEdit

There are in fact several reasons that induce students to engage in academic dishonesty. Some scholars claim that there are students who have a pathological urge to cheat. The writer Thomas Mallon noted that many scholars of literature found that plagiarism by people like Samuel Taylor Coleridge or Charles Reade was perpetrated in a way similar to kleptomania, that is, a psychological disease that is associated with uncontrollable stealing even when it is against the interests of the thief.[14] However, it is probable that most cheaters make a rational choice to commit academic misconduct.

It has also been claimed that business scandals in the real world make students believe that dishonesty is an acceptable method to attain success in contemporary society.[15] Academic dishonesty, in this case, would be practice for the real world. For these students, there would be a dichotomy between success and honesty, and their decision is that: "It is not that we love honesty less, but that we love success more."[16] However, with the recent rise in corporate ethics related dismissals in the business world, this approach to cheating may be losing its appeal, if it ever really had any.[17]

Recent studies have indicated that academic dishonesty does not seem to hold a clear link to academic success. One study showed that students given an unexpected opportunity to cheat did not improve their grades significantly from the control group.[18] Another study showed that students who were allowed to bring cheat sheets to a test did not improve their grades.[19] While this fact may conflict with the common perception of cheating (one survey found only 13% of males and 46% of females think that cheating does not help grades[20]), it is often apparent to professors and members of academic conduct committees when a paper has been plagiarized by its inferior quality. Indeed, it is not uncommon that if the student had written the paper himself, it would have been significantly better. Possibly of most significance in casting doubt on the relation between academic dishonesty and higher grades is the fact that nationally on average, one third of grade A students have cheated.[21] Why would a student who regularly gets As decide to cheat, since they cannot receive anything better than an A? The answer is that academic dishonesty acts as a shortcut. Even if a plagiarized paper receives a relatively low grade, that grade is high given how much time and effort went into the paper. In the study mentioned above in which students were allowed to bring crib sheets to a test but did not improve their scores the researcher concluded that the students used the crib notes as alternatives to studying, rather than as compliments to studying, and thus spent less time preparing for the exam.[22] Academic dishonesty is more of a way to get by without having to work hard than a shortcut to success.

Teachers also have incentives to cheat. The federal government of the United States has mandated high-stakes testing as part of the No Child Left Behind Act, signed into law in 2002. Schools and teachers are held accountable for the results. As a result, teachers are known to "teach to the test": while not teaching the actual answers, they teach the questions and similar ones, and they neglect any topic that will not be tested on. Teachers may also cheat, so as to inflate the results of tests given in their classroom.[7]

Demographic and personal causesEdit

Extensive studies have found that no personal characteristics correlate well with cheating, that is, there are no people "born to cheat".[23] Indeed, one experiment found that there was no relationship between how a student performed on a morality test and his likelihood of cheating (that is, students at a pre-conventional stage of morality are as likely to cheat as those at a post-conventional stage).[24]

Demographic variables are also generally not strongly correlated with cheating, with a few minor exceptions. It has been found that younger students are somewhat more likely to cheat: one study finding the highest incidence of cheating occurs during Sophomore year at college.[25] Also, while it was found that men cheated slightly more often than women in the 1960s, that gap has disappeared in recent years.[26] Another demographic variable that affects cheating behavior is academic achievement, in that students who perform poorly tend to cheat more than students who perform well.[27]. For instance, low grades and low SAT scores have a correlation with high levels of cheating.[28] In addition, parental education shows a weak but positive correlation with cheating; students whose parents received college degrees are slightly more likely to cheat than are students whose parents did not attend college.[29]. Generally though, race, nationality, and class all show little correlation with academic misconduct. There is also no correlation between how religious someone is and the likelihood that that person will cheat. A comparison between students of different religions yielded similar results, although the study did show that Jews tend to cheat less than members of other religions (since the study was done in the early 60s, it is possible that Jews were benefiting from the above-mentioned relationship between cheating and parental college education).[30]. One of the strongest demographic correlations with academic misconduct in the United States is with language. Students who speak English as a second language have been shown to commit academic dishonesty more and are more likely to be caught than native speakers, since they will often not want to rewrite sources in their own words, fearing that the meaning of the sentence will be lost through poor paraphrasing skills.[31] In the University of California system, international students make up 10% of the student body but comprise 47% of academic dishonesty cases.[32]

Contextual causesEdit

Academic misconduct is more easily traced to the academic and social environment of the student than to his or her background. These contextual factors can be as broad as the social milieu at school to as narrow as what instructions a teacher gives before an exam.

Contextual factors that individual teachers can affect often makes the least difference on cheating behavior. A study found that increasing the distance between students taking an exam has little effect on academic misconduct, and that threatening students before an exam with expulsion if they cheat actually promotes cheating behavior.[33] Indeed, increased exam proctoring and other methods of detecting cheating in the classroom are largely ineffective. According to one survey of American college students, while 50% had cheated at least once in the previous six months, and 7% had cheated more than five times in that period, only 2.5% of the cheaters had been caught.[34] As teachers invent more elaborate methods of deterring cheating, students invent even more elaborate methods of cheating (sometimes even treating it as a game), leading to what some teachers call a costly and unwinnable arms race.[35] Increased punishment for academic misconduct also has little correlation with cheating behavior. It has been found that students with markedly different perceptions of what the severity of the punishment for cheating were all equally likely to cheat, probably indicating that they thought that increased penalties were immaterial since their cheating would never be discovered.[36] However, if a professor makes clear that he disapproves of cheating, either in the syllabus, in the first class, or at the beginning of a test, academic dishonesty can drop by 12%.[37]

Teachers can, however, accidentally promote cheating behavior. A study found a correlation between how harsh or unfair a professor is perceived as and academic misconduct, since students see cheating as a way of getting back at the teacher.[38] Also, students who see themselves in a competition, such as when the teacher is using a grade curve, are more likely to cheat.[39]

The most important contextual causes of academic misconduct are often out of individual teachers' hands. One very important factor is time management. One survey reported two-thirds of teachers believed that poor time management was the principal cause of cheating.[40] Often social engagements are to blame. It has been found that there is a strong correlation between extracurricular activities and cheating, especially among athletes, even those on intramural teams.[41] It has also been found that student cheating rates rise significantly the more time students spend playing cards, watching television, or having a few drinks with friends.[42] Relatedly, fraternity or sorority membership is also strongly correlated with academic misconduct.[43]

One of the most important causes of academic misconduct is the contextual factor of an environment of peer disapproval of cheating, that is, peer pressure. Psychologists note that all people tend to follow the norms of their peer group, which would include norms about academic dishonesty.[44] Thus, students who believe that their peers disapprove of cheating are less likely to cheat. Indeed, multiple studies show that the most decisive factor in a student's decision to cheat is his perception of his peers' relationship with academic dishonesty.[45] For instance, on average 69% of students cheat at colleges with low community disapproval of academic misconduct, whereas only about 23% of students cheat at colleges with strong community disapproval of academic misconduct.[46] Peer pressure works both ways, as a study found that there is a 41% increase in the probability of a student cheating if she has seen someone else cheat.[47] However, even if most students strongly disapprove of cheating, there has to be a community in order for those norms to be enforced via peer pressure. For instance, larger schools, which usually have much higher cheating rates than small schools, tend to have a weaker community, being more split up into different peer groups that exert little social pressure on each other.[48] Another measure of a college community, how many students live on campus, further shows a significant relation with a school's cheating rate.[49] Relatedly, many professors argue that smaller classes reduce cheating behavior.[50]

Ethical causesEdit

No matter what the demographic or contextual influences are on a student who decides to engage in cheating behavior, before she can cheat she must overcome her own conscience. This depends both on how strongly someone disapproves of academic dishonesty and what types of justifications the student uses to escape a sense of guilt. For instance, students who personally do not have a moral problem with academic misconduct can cheat guilt-free. However, while many students have been taught and have internalized that academic dishonesty is wrong, it has been shown that on average a third of students who strongly disapprove of cheating have in fact cheated.[51] People who cheat despite personal disapproval of cheating engage in something called "neutralization", in which a student rationalizes the cheating as being acceptable due to certain mitigating circumstances.[52] According to psychologists of deviant behavior, people who engage in neutralization support the societal norm in question, but "conjure up" reasons why they are allowed to violate that norm in a particular case.[53] Neutralization is not a simple case of ex post facto rationalization, but is rather a more comprehensive affair, occurring before, during, and after the act of cheating.[54] Researchers have found four major types of neutralization of academic dishonesty, which they categorize by type of justification. Denial of responsibility, that is, the accusation that others are to blame or that something forced the student to cheat, is the most common form of neutralization among college students who cheated, with 61% of cheaters using this form of justification.[55] Condemnation of condemner, that is, that the professors are hypocrites or brought it on themselves, is the second most common form of college student neutralization at 28%.[55] The third most popular form of neutralization among college students is the appeal to higher loyalties, where the student thinks her responsibility to some other entity, usually her peers, is more important than doing what she knows to be morally right. About 6.8% of cheaters in higher education use this form of neutralization.[55] Denial of injury - that nobody is worse off for the cheating - is the fourth most popular kind of neutralization at 4.2% of cheaters.[55]

Effects of academic dishonestyEdit

Cheating in academia has a host of effects on students, on teachers, on individual schools, and on the educational system itself.

For instance, students who engage in neutralization to justify cheating, even once, are more likely to engage in cheating in the future, potentially putting them on a road to a life of dishonesty.[56] Indeed, one study found that students who are dishonest in class are more likely to engage in fraud and theft on the job when they enter the workplace [57]. Students are also negatively affected by academic dishonesty after graduation. A university diploma is an important document in the labor market. Potential employers use a degree as a representation of a graduate's knowledge and ability. However, due to academic dishonesty, not all graduates with the same grades actually did the same work or have the same skills. Thus, when faced with the fact that they do not know which graduates are skilled and which are the "lemons" (see The Market for Lemons), employers must pay all graduates based on the quality of the average graduate. Therefore, the more students who cheat, getting by without achieving the required skills or learning, the lower the quality of the average graduate of a school, and thus the less employers are willing to pay a new hire from that school. Because of this reason, all students, even those that do not cheat themselves, are negatively affected by academic misconduct.

Academic dishonesty also creates problems for teachers. In economic terms, cheating causes an underproduction of knowledge, where the professor's job is to produce knowledge. [58] Moreover, a case of cheating often will cause emotional distress to faculty members, many considering it to be a personal slight against them or a violation of their trust. Dealing with academic misconduct is often one of the worst parts of a career in education, one survey claiming that 77% of academics agreed with the statement "dealing with a cheating student is one of the most onerous aspects of the job."[59]

Academic misconduct can also have an effect on a college's reputation, one of the most important assets of any school. An institution plagued by cheating scandals may become less attractive to potential donors and students and especially prospective employers. Alternately, schools with low levels of academic dishonesty can use their reputation to attract students and employers.

Ultimately, academic dishonesty undermines the academic world. It interferes with the basic mission of education, the transfer of knowledge, by allowing students to get by without having to master the knowledge.[60] Furthermore, academic dishonesty creates an atmosphere that is not conducive to the learning process, which affects honest students as well.[61] When honest students see cheaters escape detection, it can discourage student morale, as they see the rewards for their work cheapened. Cheating also undermines academia when students steal ideas. Ideas are a professional author's "capital and identity", and if a person's ideas are stolen it retards the pursuit of knowledge. [62]

Deterrence of academic dishonestyEdit

Punishments for academic dishonesty vary according to the age of the party involved and the nature of the infraction. In high school, a standard penalty for cheating is a failing grade; in college, it can result in expulsion or dismissal (At the University of Virginia for instance, there are no lesser penalties than dismissal for breaches of the honor code). In rare instances, college professors have been fired when it was discovered that they plagiarized during college or graduate school.[How to reference and link to summary or text] All parties involved in the dishonesty—not just the individual whose grade is increased by it—can be punished.

Historically the job of preventing cheating has been given to the teacher. It used to be that in college the professor acted in loco parentis and was able to regulate student behavior as a parent.[63] Thus, professors who discovered cheating could assign essentially any punishment they deemed appropriate. This system often had no recourse by which students could appeal judgments. Generally, proctors were hired to patrol exams. If a case was particularly serious, a dean or other top-level administrator might have been involved. Against this inconsistent and paternalistic system students at some schools rebelled and demanded to be treated as gentlemen.

Honor codesEdit

Further information: Honor Codes

First at the College of William and Mary in 1779, and then followed by schools like the University of Virginia in the 1850s and Wesleyan University in 1893, the students, with the agreement of faculty who declared themselves dedicated to ideals of democracy and human character, created honor codes. [64] B. Melendez of Harvard University defined an honor code as a code of academic conduct that includes a written pledge of honesty that students sign, a student controlled judiciary that hears alleged violations, unproctored examinations, and an obligation for all students help enforce the code.[65] This system relied on student self-enforcement, which was considered more becoming of young gentlemen than the policing by proctors and professors that existed previously. Of interest, the military academies of the US took the honor code one step further than civilian colleges, disallowing "tolerance", which means that if a cadet or midshipman is found to have failed to report or outright protected someone engaged in academic dishonesty (as well as other dishonesties or stealing), that individual is to be expelled along with the perpetrator.

Mixed judicial boardsEdit

However, many people doubted the advisability of relying on an abstract notion of honor to prevent academic dishonesty. This doubt has perhaps led to the realty that no more than a quarter of American universities have adopted honor codes.[66] Moreover, many professors could not envisage a student run trial process that treated faculty accusers fairly. In response to these concerns, in the middle of the twentieth century, many schools devised mixed judicial panels composed of both students and faculty. This type of academic integrity system was similar to the traditional faculty control system in that it relied on professors to detect cheating, except in this system cheaters were brought before centralized boards of students and faculty for punishment. By the 1960s over a quarter of American universities had adopted this system of mixed judicial boards.[67] Still, though, over half of American universities continued to use faculty-centered control systems.

Student due process rightsEdit

Starting in the 1960s the U.S. Supreme Court began chipping away at the in loco parentis doctrine, giving college students more civil liberties such as the right of due process in disciplinary proceedings (Dixon v. Alabama Board of Education, 1961).[68] In Cooper v. Blair (1973), specifically academic misconduct was ruled to require due process, being a disciplinary matter and not an educational matter. The due process rights of students in academic misconduct cases is not to the same degree as in a court of law. For instance, the student has no right to representation and the burden of proof is not necessarily stringent. In the "General Order on Judicial Standards of Procedure and Substance in Review of Student Discipline in Tax Supported Institutions of Higher Education", (1968) student due process rights were laid out as follows:

  1. The student should be given adequate notice in writing of the specific ground or grounds and the nature of the evidence on which the discipline proceedings are based.
  2. The student should be given an opportunity for a hearing in which the disciplinary authority provides a fair opportunity for hearing of the student's position, explanations, or evidence.
  3. No disciplinary action may be taken on grounds which are not supported by any substantial evidence.

These new rules put an end to the old faculty based system of policing academic dishonesty, now students were entitled to an impartial hearing. While schools using the old honor code method or the mixed judicial system were not affected by these decisions, schools using the faculty based system generally instituted systems that relied on a committee of faculty and administrators or a dean to run the academic misconduct hearings.

Modified honor codesEdit

Recently, Donald L. McCabe and Linda Klebe Trevino, two experts in the field of academic dishonesty, have proposed a new way of deterring cheating that has been implemented in schools such as the University of Maryland. Modified honor codes put students in charge of the judicial hearing process, making it clear that it is the students' responsibility to stop cheating amongst themselves, but at the same time students still have proctored exams and are not allowed to take pledges of good conduct in place of professor oversight.[69] The researchers who advocate this type of code seem to think that the normal honor code is something of a special case that is not applicable to many schools.[70] According to supporters of this system, schools with a large student body, a weak college community, or no history of student self-governance will not be able to support a full honor code. However, while modified honor codes seem to be more effective than faculty or administration run integrity codes of conduct, research shows that schools with modified codes still have higher rates of cheating than schools with full honor codes.[71]

Comparison of different systems of enforcementEdit

Research has shown that there is a strong correlation between forms of academic integrity system and levels of cheating at a school. Several studies have found students who attend schools with honor codes are less likely to cheat than students at schools with traditional integrity codes.[72] Another study found that only 28% of schools with honor codes have high levels of cheating, whereas 81% of schools with mixed judicial boards have high rates of cheating.[73] Whereas faculty or administration run codes of conduct tend to rely on policing and punishment to deter students from cheating, honor codes tend to rely on and cultivate student senses of honor and group peer pressure to deter academic misconduct.[74] As mentioned above in the section on causes of cheating, increased enforcement or punishment is rarely effective at discouraging cheating, whereas there is a high correlation between peer pressure and academic honesty. The modified honor code attempts to cultivate peer disapproval of cheating while maintaining the traditional proctor system, although critics argue that the proctor system undermines the creation of an atmosphere of student self-policing, reducing the effectiveness of the honor code, possibly explaining why modified honor codes have not been as effective as the original version.

Faculty issues in deterring academic dishonestyEdit

There are limitations to relying on the faculty to police academic dishonesty. One study found that up to 21% of professors have ignored at least one clear cut case of cheating.[75] Another study revealed that 40% of professors "never" report cheating, 54% "seldom" report cheating, and that a mere 6% act on all cases of academic misconduct that confront them.[76] A third survey of professors found that while 79% had observed cheating, only 9% had penalized the student.[77] According to a manual for professors on cheating,

the reasons for this lack of action include unwillingness to devote time and energy to the issue, reluctance to undergo an emotional confrontation, and fear of retaliation by the student, of losing students, of being accused of harassment or discrimination, and even of being sued for these offenses and/or defamation of character.[78]

There are other reasons as well. Some professors are reluctant to report violations to the appropriate authorities because they believe the punishment to be too harsh.[79]

Others do not report academic misconduct because of postmodernist views on cheating. Postmodernism calls into question the very concepts of "authorship" and "originality." From the perspective of cultural studies and historicism, authors themselves are simply constructs of their social surroundings, and thus they simply rewrite already written cultural stories. Moreover, in the field of composition studies, students are being encouraged more and more to do group work and participate in ongoing collective revision. The postmodernist view is that "the concept of intellectual malpractice is of limited epistemological value. Under the ironic gaze of postmodernism, the distinctions between guilt and innocence, integrity and deceit permeating the scandal debates appear irrelevant."[80] One professor wrote in an article in The English Journal that when he peeked in on an unproctored class taking a test and saw several students up and consulting with one another, he decided that they were not cheating, but were using non-traditional techniques and collaborative learning to surmount the obstacles teachers had put in their way.[81] Issues of cultural relativism also affect professors' views on cheating; the standard objection being that "students from certain Middle Eastern, Asian, and African cultures are baffled by the notion that one can 'own' ideas, since their cultures regard words and ideas as the property of all rather than as individual property."[82]

Another issue teachers may have with deterring cheating is that they may decide that it is not their job. The argument that "they're professors, not policemen" is often heard in academia.[83] In economic terms, some professors believe they are being paid to provide learning, and if the student loses that learning through cheating, he is only cheating himself out of the money he paid.[84]

Exposure of Falsified Data Edit

With the advancement of the internet, there are now several tools available to aid in the detection of plagiarism and multiple publication within biomedical literature. One tool developed in 2006 by researchers in Dr. Harold Garner's laboratory at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas is Déjà Vu, an open-access database containing several thousand instances of duplicate publication.

See alsoEdit


  1. Ann Bushway and William R. Nash, "School Cheating Behavior", Review of Educational Research 47, no. 4 (Autumn 1977), 623.
  2. Sue Carter Simmons, "Competing Notions of Authorship: A Historical Look at Students and Textbooks on Plagiarism and Cheating", in Perspectives on Plagiarism and Intellectual Property in the Postmodern World ed. Lise Buranen and Alice M. Roy (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1999), 42.
  3. Sue Carter Simmons, "Competing Notions of Authorship: A Historical Look at Students and Textbooks on Plagiarism and Cheating", in Perspectives on Plagiarism and Intellectual Property in the Postmodern World ed. Lise Buranen and Alice M. Roy (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1999), 45
  4. "Psychology Through Ecology: Academic Motivation, Moral Aptitudes, and Cheating Behavior in Middle and High School Settings"
  5. Bushway and Nash, 623.
  6. Wilfried Decoo, Crisis on Campus: Confronting Academic Misconduct (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2002), 23.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Brian Aaron Jacob & Steven D. Levitt (2003) Catching Cheating Teachers: The Results of an Unusual Experiment in Implementing Theory", available at Project Muse.
  8. William J. Bowers, Student Dishonesty and its Control in Colleges (New York: Bureau of Applied Social Research, Columbia University, 1964), 155.
  9. Emily E. LaBeff, et al., "Situational Ethics and College Student Cheating", Sociological Inquiry 60, no. 2 (May 1990), 192.
  10. Donald L. McCabe and Linda Klebe Trevino, "Academic Dishonesty: Honor Codes and Other Contextual Influences", The Journal of Higher Education 64, no. 5, (September-October 1993), 532.
  11. Justin Pope, 'Higher education sees rise in dishonesty', Associated Press, May 19, 2007
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