What is Academic Dishonesty? - Definition, Examples & Consequences

Instructor: Alicia Taylor

Alicia has taught students of all ages and has a master's degree in Education

Although pretty much every student in any classroom would like to get an A, not every student wants to work hard enough to achieve it. Sometimes, students who face this dilemma commit acts of academic dishonesty, and the consequences can be severe.

The Perks and Problems of the Classroom

School is wonderful, isn't it? All of those eager students, ready to fill their minds with knowledge, hanging on their teacher's every word. But, sometimes, a student will be less interested in learning, and a more interested in scoring a top grade with little effort.

The result of this is misguided goal can be academic dishonesty, which is any kind of dishonest act done for the sake of improving someone's academic standing.

Some students feel so much pressure, they think they must cheat.
Students Testing

Different Kinds of Cheating

Academic dishonesty is cheating, and most teachers and students are familiar with common schemes such as stealing a look at a fellow student's test paper, or a photocopying the answers of last year's final exam. There are more specific names for certain forms of cheating.

The most common form of cheating in academic writing is plagiarism which occurs when students submit writing that was not created by themselves for a specific assignment. Student who plagiarize claim someone else's words and ideas as their own unique work.

Using Someone Else's Work

In some cases of plagiarism, students may copy a published source. Other students may pay a friend to do their work while others may buy written work from one of the many online paper mills. Paper mills are websites where students can buy pre-written papers or hire professional writers to create papers for them.

A computerized plagiarism scanner is the best way to check for plagiarized or reused papers. Some schools have a preferred system for this. Anti-Plagiarism and PlagiarismChecker are a few popular scanners. These scanners compare each set of words in a student's submission with other published works.

However, if the student hires someone to write a unique paper, computerized plagiarism checkers won't help much. Fortunately, these kinds of plagiarized papers are frequently easy to detect for one simple reason: they are often just too good for the student to have written. In these cases, you should bring your suspicions to your principal or dean to ask for advice.

Since good writing alone is not proof of plagiarism, your principal may recommend a vocabulary test using high-level words from the paper. Or, you could test the student on major points made in the paper. If the student cannot define words used or explain ideas from the paper, this provides more evidence of plagiarism.

Re-Using an Old Paper

Another kind of cheating, known as self-plagiarism, occurs when students submit work they produced for one class for credit in another class without getting permission to do so. This is one of the forms of plagiarism that can truly happen by mistake. If students are not told that this is academically dishonest, they naturally assume that the fact that they wrote the paper originally means it is okay to submit it, again.

Often, self-plagiarism occurs when students receive broad, general assignments from teachers. Many plagiarism specialists suggest that teachers can help prevent self-plagiarism (and other forms of plagiarism) with detailed assignments that only make sense within the specific class.

For instance, an English teacher might be teaching about ''~Oliver Twist.''A vague paper assignment like ''Identify the major themes of ''~Oliver Twist''' may be something the student has already done. But, let's say the class has been discussing about how a reader's individual sensibility determines what he or she learns from a book. The teacher could create an assignment like, ''Based on our discussions in class, explain how reading this book when it was written would differ from reading it today.''

Sloppy Citations

Students who fail to use proper citation methods are also being academically dishonest. Most often, the failure to attribute ideas and quotes to other writers isn't an attempt to take credit for someone else's work. It's often either laziness or lack of knowledge.

Teachers must make it clear to students that this kind of laziness and ignorance can lead to severe academic consequences. Additionally, teachers should help students learn how to properly cite sources.

Fake Research

Another form of academic dishonesty is fabrication. When a student fabricates, or makes up, information to support a point, there is no doubt that the dishonesty was intentional.

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