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What is Academic Dishonesty?

Diane Goettel
Updated Mar 02, 2024
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Academic dishonesty is basically another term for "cheating" when it occurs within the realm of academia. There are a number of ways in which a student, professor, or even administrator of higher learning can be academically dishonest. Two of the most common types of academic dishonesty are cheating on an exam and plagiarism. Smuggling a cheat sheet into a test room or stealing answers from another student's test are two examples of the former kind of academic dishonesty while copying sections of someone else's work into a paper or report is an example of the latter.

Fabrication and deception are two other types of academic dishonesty. Fabrication is the practice of falsifying or altering data for the purposes of an academic exercise. Deception, on the other hand, is the act of lying or bending the truth in order to receive special consideration. For example, faking an illness in order to get an extension on a deadline is a form of deception.

Other forms of academic dishonesty include sabotage and bribery. If one student, for example, were to illegally remove from the library all of the relevant reference material needed by another student or group of students, this would be considered sabotage. This may be done in order to keep other students from completing or being successful in their attempts to complete an assignment and may be done when a project will be graded on a curve. Bribery includes paying someone else to complete an assignment on a student's behalf.

Most institutions are very strict when it comes to academic dishonesty. Some have a zero tolerance policy. Most schools set out a code on academic dishonesty that includes a list of possible consequences for anyone who commits academically dishonest acts. Possible consequences include academic suspension and loss of credit. Some of the most severe consequences include expulsion and the loss of scholarships.

There are some kinds of academic dishonesty that can be very hard to prove. Deception, for example, is hard to prove unless a school requires that students submit doctors' notes in order to receive extensions for illnesses, which is not a common practice. Also, if a paper is not checked for plagiarism and the professor or teacher's assistant checking the work does not happen to recognize the fact that it is plagiarized, the student may never have to face consequences.

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Diane Goettel
By Diane Goettel , Former Writer
"Diane Goettel has a BA from Sarah Lawrence College and an MA in English from Brooklyn College. Diane lives in Mount Vernon, New York with her husband, Noah. They are the proud parents of a Doberman Pinscher named Spoon. Specialties: book editing, book marketing, book publishing, freelance writing, magazine publishing, magazine writing, copywriting,"

Discussion Comments

By burcinc — On Jun 04, 2011

I want to bring attention to the fact that not all students plagiarize with the intent to do so. I think students are not always taught proper citation rules, and can make unintentional mistakes when they are writing, especially if they are still in High School or just starting out college.

We all know that we have to cite anything that we directly copy from someone else. But most students don't know that they also have to cite information that they re-phrase themselves. Most of my students make this mistake in my classes and I take every opportunity to remind them about it.

There are cases where a student has taken an entire paper off of the internet and thinks that the instructor won't notice. I can tell you that we always notice. If you are having problem writing a paper, always ask the instructor for help. If you decided you will write a paper the night before it is due and failed, try and ask the instructor for an extension. But never plagiarize or copy other people's work!

As for citations, remember to cite everything that is not of your own thinking. If you're not sure about it, cite it! These are my suggestions to students who want to avoid academic dishonesty.

By bear78 — On Jun 03, 2011

If someone is cheating on an exam, or lying about why they aren't coming to class, that is clearly academic dishonesty. In high school, we had to bring in a doctor's note if we couldn't go to school due to an illness.

In college, Professors don't require that. If a student emails the Professor and says that he or she is sick, or that there is a family emergency, the Professors will be understanding and lenient with that student. They will even help them make up for that time by sending them notes, discussing that class with them on their own time, and even giving them the exam later on.

I think that Professors who go to such lengths to help their students learn and do well in their classes deserve to be treated honestly. I hope that college students don't take advantage of this.

By SteamLouis — On Jun 01, 2011

I remember during my orientation for graduate school, administrators of my school warned us a lot about plagiarism. I remember being warned about it during college too, but not as much. Most graduate schools, including mine have an absolutely no tolerance policy for plagiarism.

There are a few exams in graduate school classes. Most of the work entails writing papers, so Professors take it very seriously. Plagiarism in graduate school can lower your GPA a lot because you will fail that course or courses. It can even cause you to be kicked out of school.

I agree with this policy. If someone plans on finishing graduate school by plagiarizing others' work, they really shouldn't be there at all.

Diane Goettel

Diane Goettel

Former Writer

"Diane Goettel has a BA from Sarah Lawrence College and an MA in English from Brooklyn College. Diane lives in Mount...
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