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.