or academic misconduct
is any type of cheating
Cheating refers to the breaking of rules to gain advantage in a competitive situation. The rules infringed may be explicit, or they may be from an unwritten code of conduct based on morality, ethics or custom, making the identification of cheating a subjective process. Cheating can refer...
that occurs in relation to a formal academic exercise. It can include
Plagiarism is defined in dictionaries as the "wrongful appropriation," "close imitation," or "purloining and publication" of another author's "language, thoughts, ideas, or expressions," and the representation of them as one's own original work, but the notion remains problematic with nebulous...
: The adoption or reproduction of original creations of another author (person, collective, organization, community or other type of author, including anonymous authors) without due acknowledgment.
- Fabrication: The falsification of data, information, or citations in any formal academic exercise.
Deception, beguilement, deceit, bluff, mystification, bad faith, and subterfuge are acts to propagate beliefs that are not true, or not the whole truth . Deception can involve dissimulation, propaganda, and sleight of hand. It can employ distraction, camouflage or concealment...
: 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 refers to the breaking of rules to gain advantage in a competitive situation. The rules infringed may be explicit, or they may be from an unwritten code of conduct based on morality, ethics or custom, making the identification of cheating a subjective process. Cheating can refer...
: Any attempt to give or obtain assistance in a formal academic exercise (like an examination) without due acknowledgment.
Bribery, a form of corruption, is an act implying money or gift giving that alters the behavior of the recipient. Bribery constitutes a crime and is defined by Black's Law Dictionary as the offering, giving, receiving, or soliciting of any item of value to influence the actions of an official or...
: or paid services. Giving certain test answers for money.
Sabotage is a deliberate action aimed at weakening another entity through subversion, obstruction, disruption, or destruction. In a workplace setting, sabotage is the conscious withdrawal of efficiency generally directed at causing some change in workplace conditions. One who engages in sabotage is...
: Acting to prevent others from completing their work. This includes cutting pages out of library books or willfully disrupting the experiments of others.
- Professorial misconduct: Professor
A professor is a scholarly teacher; the precise meaning of the term varies by country. Literally, professor derives from Latin as a "person who professes" being usually an expert in arts or sciences; a teacher of high rank...
ial acts that are academically fraudulent equate to academic fraud and/or grade fraud.
Personation is a term used in law for the specific kind of voter fraud where an individual votes in an election, whilst pretending to be a different elector....
: assuming a student's identity with intent to provide an advantage for the student.
Academic dishonesty has been documented in most every type of educational setting from elementary school
An elementary school or primary school is an institution where children receive the first stage of compulsory education known as elementary or primary education. Elementary school is the preferred term in some countries, particularly those in North America, where the terms grade school and grammar...
to graduate school
A graduate school is a school that awards advanced academic degrees with the general requirement that students must have earned a previous undergraduate degree...
. Throughout history this type of dishonesty has been met with varying degrees of approbation. Today, those who are a part of an educated society tend to take a very negative view of academic dishonesty.
In antiquity, the notion of intellectual property
Intellectual property is a term referring to a number of distinct types of creations of the mind for which a set of exclusive rights are recognized—and the corresponding fields of law...
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. Scholars were an elite and small group who knew and generally trusted each other. This system continued through the European Middle Ages. Education was in Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...
and occasionally Greek
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...
. Some scholars were monk
A monk is a person who practices religious asceticism, living either alone or with any number of monks, while always maintaining some degree of physical separation from those not sharing the same purpose...
s, lived in monasteries. Since they spent their time in monasteries, they used much of their time copying manuscript
A manuscript or handwrite is written information that has been manually created by someone or some people, such as a hand-written letter, as opposed to being printed or reproduced some other way...
s. Other scholars were in urban universities connected to the Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...
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. Before the founding of the MLA
The Modern Language Association of America is the principal professional association in the United States for scholars of language and literature...
and the APA
The American Psychological Association is the largest scientific and professional organization of psychologists in the United States. It is the world's largest association of psychologists with around 154,000 members including scientists, educators, clinicians, consultants and students. 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."
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, cheating was widespread at college campuses in the United States, and was not considered dishonorable among students. 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. Fraternities often operated so-called essay mill
An essay mill is a ghostwriting service that sells essays and other homework writing to university and college students. Since plagiarism is a form of academic dishonesty or academic fraud, universities and colleges may investigate papers suspected to be from an essay mill by using Internet...
s, 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. As higher education in the U.S. trended towards meritocracy
Meritocracy, in the first, most administrative sense, is a system of government or other administration wherein appointments and responsibilities are objectively assigned to individuals based upon their "merits", namely intelligence, credentials, and education, determined through evaluations or...
, 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. Unluckily, in some areas academic dishonesty is widely spread and people who do not cheat represent a minority between the class.
Academic dishonesty today
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. Similarly, other studies reveal that currently in the U.S., 56% of middle school
Middle School and Junior High School are levels of schooling between elementary and high schools. Most school systems use one term or the other, not both. The terms are not interchangeable...
students and 70% of high school
High school is a term used in parts of the English speaking world to describe institutions which provide all or part of secondary education. The term is often incorporated into the name of such institutions....
students have cheated.
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
A high-stakes test is a test with important consequences for the test taker. Passing has important benefits, such as a high school diploma, a scholarship, or a license to practice a profession...
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.
The first scholarly studies in the 1960s of academic dishonesty in higher education
Higher, post-secondary, tertiary, or third level education refers to the stage of learning that occurs at universities, academies, colleges, seminaries, and institutes of technology...
found that nationally in the U.S., somewhere between 50%-70% of college students had cheated at least once. 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
A public university is a university that is predominantly funded by public means through a national or subnational government, as opposed to private universities. A national university may or may not be considered a public university, depending on regions...
can be as high as 75%. Moreover, researchers have found that students who attend a school with an honor code
An honour code or honour system is a set of rules or principles governing a community based on a set of rules or ideals that define what constitutes honorable behavior within that community. The use of an honor code depends on the idea that people can be trusted to act honorably...
are less likely to cheat than students at schools with other ways of enforcing academic integrity. 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.
Moreover, there are online services that offer to prepare any kind of homework of high school and college level and take online tests for students. While administrators are often aware of such websites, they have been unsuccessful in curbing cheating in homework and non-proctored online tests, resorting to a recommendation by the Ohio Mathematics Association to derive at least 80% of the grade of online classes from proctored tests.
While research on academic dishonesty in other countries is minimal, anecdotal evidence suggests cheating could be even more common in countries like Japan.
A typology of academic misconduct has been devised by Perry (2010). Perry's typology presents a two dimensional model of academic misconduct with one dimension measuring the degree to which rules are understood and the other dimension measuring how closely these rules are followed. According to the typology only those students who understand the rules but fail to adhere to the rules are classified as'cheats'.
Plagiarism, as defined in the 1995 Random House Compact Unabridged Dictionary
, is the "use or close imitation of the language and thoughts of another author and the representation of them as one's own original work." In academia
Academia is the community of students and scholars engaged in higher education and research.-Etymology:The word comes from the akademeia in ancient Greece. Outside the city walls of Athens, the gymnasium was made famous by Plato as a center of learning...
, it is seen more broadly as the adoption or reproduction of original intellectual creations (such as concepts, ideas, methods, pieces of information or expressions, etc.) of another author (person, collective, organization, community or other type of author, including anonymous authors) without due acknowledgment, in contexts where originality is acknowledged and rewarded. This can range from borrowing without attribution
Attribution in copyright law, is the requirement to acknowledge or credit the author of a work which is used or appears in another work. Attribution is required by most copyright and copyleft licenses, such as the GNU Free Documentation License and Creative Commons licenses.Attribution is often...
a particularly apt phrase, to paraphrasing someone else's original idea without citation, to wholesale contract cheating
Contract cheating is a form of academic dishonesty in which students get others to complete their coursework for them by putting it out to tender....
The modern concept of plagiarism as immoral and originality
Originality is the aspect of created or invented works by as being new or novel, and thus can be distinguished from reproductions, clones, forgeries, or derivative works....
as an ideal
An ideal is a principle or value that one actively pursues as a goal. Ideals are particularly important in ethics, as the order in which one places them tends to determine the degree to which one reveals them as real and sincere. It is the application, in ethics, of a universal...
emerged in Europe only in the 18th century, while in the previous centuries authors and artists were encouraged to "copy the masters as closely as possible" and avoid "unnecessary invention". The 18th century new morals have been institutionalized and enforced prominently in the sectors of academia (including academic science, education, engineering etc.) and journalism
Journalism is the practice of investigation and reporting of events, issues and trends to a broad audience in a timely fashion. Though there are many variations of journalism, the ideal is to inform the intended audience. Along with covering organizations and institutions such as government and...
, where plagiarism is now considered academic dishonesty and a breach of journalistic ethics, subject to sanctions like expulsion
Expulsion or exclusion refers to the permanent removal of a student from a school system or university for violating that institution's rules. Laws and procedures regarding expulsion vary between countries and states.-State sector:...
and other severe career damages. Not so in the arts
The arts are a vast subdivision of culture, composed of many creative endeavors and disciplines. It is a broader term than "art", which as a description of a field usually means only the visual arts. The arts encompass visual arts, literary arts and the performing arts – music, theatre, dance and...
, which have resisted in their long-established tradition of copying as a fundamental practice of the creative process, with plagiarism being still hugely tolerated by 21st century artists. Law making is a professional field which is not structured around the concept of originality and for which plagiarism is less relevant.
Plagiarism is not a crime
Crime is the breach of rules or laws for which some governing authority can ultimately prescribe a conviction...
but is disapproved more on the grounds of moral
Morality is the differentiation among intentions, decisions, and actions between those that are good and bad . A moral code is a system of morality and a moral is any one practice or teaching within a moral code...
offence. It may be a case for civil law
Civil law, as opposed to criminal law, is the branch of law dealing with disputes between individuals or organizations, in which compensation may be awarded to the victim...
if it is so substantial to constitute copyright infringement
Copyright infringement is the unauthorized or prohibited use of works under copyright, infringing the copyright holder's exclusive rights, such as the right to reproduce or perform the copyrighted work, or to make derivative works.- "Piracy" :...
Since 2000, discussions on the subjects of student plagiarism have increased with a major strand of this discussion centring around the issue of how best students can be helped to understand and avoid plagiarism .
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 falsify data 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.
Bibliographical references are often fabricated, especially when a certain minimum number of references is required or considered sufficient for the particular kind of paper. This type of fabrication can range from referring to works whose titles look relevant but which the student did not read, to making up bogus titles and authors.
There is also the practice of dry-labbing
—which can occur in chemistry
Chemistry is the science of matter, especially its chemical reactions, but also its composition, structure and properties. Chemistry is concerned with atoms and their interactions with other atoms, and particularly with the properties of chemical bonds....
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.
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
Competition is a contest between individuals, groups, animals, etc. for territory, a niche, or a location of resources. It arises whenever two and only two strive for a goal which cannot be shared. Competition occurs naturally between living organisms which co-exist in the same environment. For...
, cutthroat environments, such as at extremely elite schools where class rankings are highly prized.
Poor behavior and the low level disruption of other students learning, however, is extremely common in all educational settings.
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.
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. 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. Some students have been known to use more elaborate means, such as using a system of repetitive body signals like hand movements or foot jerking to distribute answers (i.e. where a tap of the foot could correspond to answer "A", two taps for answer "B", and so on).
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 benefited himself. This form of cheating—though deprecated—could conceivably be called altruistic.
Professorial misconduct includes improper grading of students' papers and oral exams, grade fraud, deliberate negligence towards cheating or assistance in cheating. This can be done for reasons of personal bias towards students (favoritism) or a particular viewpoint (intellectual dishonesty), for a bribe, or to improve the teacher's own perceived performance by increasing the passing rate. It is still occasionally done for matters of ego or to procure sexual favors (sexual harassment).
Impersonation is a form of cheating whereby a different person than the student assigned an assignment or exam completes it. Unlike in Cheating, the academic work is totally 'outsourced' to another person or organization, usually for pay http://www.ohiomatyc.org/web_documents/newsletter_fall_09.pdf
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
Lawrence Kohlberg's stages of moral development constitute an adaptation of a psychological theory originally conceived of by the Swiss psychologist Jean Piaget...
Incentives to cheat
Some scholars contend that there are students who have a pathological urge to cheat. The writer Thomas Mallon
Thomas Mallon is a novelist and critic. He was born in Glen Cove, New York. He attended Brown University as an undergraduate and earned a Master of Arts and a Ph.D. from Harvard. He received the Ingram Merrill Foundation Award in 1994 and won a Rockefeller Fellowship in 1987...
noted that many scholars had found plagiarism in Literature (Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Samuel Taylor Coleridge was an English poet, Romantic, literary critic and philosopher who, with his friend William Wordsworth, was a founder of the Romantic Movement in England and a member of the Lake Poets. He is probably best known for his poems The Rime of the Ancient Mariner and Kubla...
and Charles Reade
Charles Reade was an English novelist and dramatist, best known for The Cloister and the Hearth.-Life:Charles Reade was born at Ipsden, Oxfordshire to John Reade and Anne Marie Scott-Waring; William Winwood Reade the influential historian , was his nephew. He studied at Magdalen College, Oxford,...
being two notable examples) to often be perpetrated in a way similar to kleptomania
Kleptomania is an irresistible urge to steal items of trivial value. People with this disorder are compelled to steal things, generally, but not limited to, objects of little or no significant value, such as pens, paper clips, paper and tape...
. That is, a psychological disease associated with uncontrollable stealing, even when it is against the interests of the thief. On the other hand, Mallon concludes it is probable that most "cheaters" make a rational choice to commit academic misconduct.
Richard Fass puts forward the possibility that business scandals in the real world make students believe dishonesty is an acceptable method for achieving success in contemporary society. Academic dishonesty, in this case, would be practice for the real world. For some 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." Conversely, other scholars consider that 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.
Recent studies have indicated that there is no clear link between academic dishonesty and academic success. One study showed that students given an unexpected opportunity to cheat did not improve their grades significantly from the control group. Another study showed that students who were allowed to bring cheat sheets to a test did not improve their grades. While this 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), it is often apparent to professors and members of academic conduct committees when a paper has been plagiarized by its inferior quality.
In the USA, on average one third of grade A students have cheated. asserts that academic dishonesty acts as a shortcut, so even grade A students might be tempted to cheat. He contends that 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 complements to studying, and thus spent less time preparing for the exam.
The federal government of the United States has mandated high-stakes testing as part of the No Child Left Behind Act
The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 is a United States Act of Congress concerning the education of children in public schools.NCLB was originally proposed by the administration of George W. Bush immediately after he took office...
, signed into law in 2002. Schools and teachers are held accountable for the results. According to Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner, co-authors of Freakonomics
, 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. Levitt also states that teachers may inflate the results of tests given in their classroom. Teachers and librarians can have a significant proactive impact on doing honest work.
Demographic and personal causes
Extensive studies have found that no personal characteristics correlate well with cheating, that is, there are no people "born to cheat". Indeed, one experiment found that there was no relationship between how a student performed on a morality test
The Defining Issues Test or the DIT is a component model of moral development devised by James Rest in 1979. The University of Minnesota formally established the Center for the Study of Ethical Development as a vehicle for research around this test in 1982.The DIT uses a Likert-type scale to give...
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).
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. Also, while it was found that men cheated slightly more often than women in the 1960s, that gap has disappeared in recent years. 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. For instance, low grades and low SAT
The SAT Reasoning Test is a standardized test for college admissions in the United States. The SAT is owned, published, and developed by the College Board, a nonprofit organization in the United States. It was formerly developed, published, and scored by the Educational Testing Service which still...
scores have a correlation
In statistics, dependence refers to any statistical relationship between two random variables or two sets of data. Correlation refers to any of a broad class of statistical relationships involving dependence....
with high levels of cheating. 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. Generally though, race, nationality
Nationality is membership of a nation or sovereign state, usually determined by their citizenship, but sometimes by ethnicity or place of residence, or based on their sense of national identity....
, and class
Social classes are economic or cultural arrangements of groups in society. Class is an essential object of analysis for sociologists, political scientists, economists, anthropologists and social historians. In the social sciences, social class is often discussed in terms of 'social stratification'...
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
The Jews , also known as the Jewish people, are a nation and ethnoreligious group originating in the Israelites or Hebrews of the Ancient Near East. The Jewish ethnicity, nationality, and religion are strongly interrelated, as Judaism is the traditional faith of the Jewish nation...
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). One of the strongest demographic correlations with academic misconduct in the United States is with language. Students who speak English
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...
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. In the University of California
The University of California is a public university system in the U.S. state of California. Under the California Master Plan for Higher Education, the University of California is a part of the state's three-tier public higher education system, which also includes the California State University...
system, international students make up 10% of the student body but comprise 47% of academic dishonesty cases.
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. Indeed, increased exam proctor
Proctor, a variant of the word procurator, is a person who takes charge of, or acts for, another. The word proctor is frequently used to describe someone who oversees an exam or dormitory.The title is used in England in three principal senses:...
ing 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. 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
The term arms race, in its original usage, describes a competition between two or more parties for the best armed forces. Each party competes to produce larger numbers of weapons, greater armies, or superior military technology in a technological escalation...
. 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. 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%. Some professors may have little incentive to reduce cheating in their classes below a point that would otherwise be obvious to outside observers, as they are rated by how many research papers they publish and research grants they win for the college, and not by how well they teach.
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. Also, students who see themselves in a competition, such as when the teacher is using a grade curve, are more likely to cheat.
Research has also shown a correlation between goal orientation and the occurrence of academic cheating. Students who perceive their classroom to have high mastery goals are less likely to engage in cheating than those who perceive their classroom to emphasize performance goals. In other words, students who are encouraged to learn for the sake of learning and who exhibit an intrinsic value of education are less likely to cheat than those who are encouraged primarily by grades and other extrinsic rewards.
The most important contextual causes of academic misconduct are often out of individual teachers' hands. One very important factor is time management
Time management is the act or process of exercising conscious control over the amount of time spent on specific activities, especially to increase efficiency or productivity. Time management may be aided by a range of skills, tools, and techniques used to manage time when accomplishing specific...
. One survey reported two-thirds of teachers believed that poor time management was the principal cause of cheating. 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. 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. Relatedly, fraternity or sorority
Fraternities and sororities are fraternal social organizations for undergraduate students. In Latin, the term refers mainly to such organizations at colleges and universities in the United States, although it is also applied to analogous European groups also known as corporations...
membership is also strongly correlated with academic misconduct.
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
Peer pressure refers to the influence exerted by a peer group in encouraging a person to change his or her attitudes, values, or behavior in order to conform to group norms. Social groups affected include membership groups, when the individual is "formally" a member , or a social clique...
. Psychologists note that all people tend to follow the norms
Social norms are the accepted behaviors within a society or group. This sociological and social psychological term has been defined as "the rules that a group uses for appropriate and inappropriate values, beliefs, attitudes and behaviors. These rules may be explicit or implicit...
of their peer group
A peer group is a social group consisting of humans. Peer groups are an informal primary group of people who share a similar or equal status and who are usually of roughly the same age, tended to travel around and interact within the social aggregate Members of a particular peer group often have...
, which would include norms about academic dishonesty. 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. 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. Peer pressure works both ways, as a study found that there is a 41% increase in the probability of a student cheating if he or she has seen someone else cheat. 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. Another measure of a college community, how many students live on campus, further shows a significant relation with a school's cheating rate. Relatedly, many professors argue that smaller classes reduce cheating behavior.
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
Conscience is an aptitude, faculty, intuition or judgment of the intellect that distinguishes right from wrong. Moral judgement may derive from values or norms...
. 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
Guilt is the state of being responsible for the commission of an offense. It is also a cognitive or an emotional experience that occurs when a person realizes or believes—accurately or not—that he or she has violated a moral standard, and bears significant responsibility for that...
-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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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%. 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. Denial of injury
- that nobody is worse off for the cheating - is the fourth most popular kind of neutralization at 4.2% of cheaters.
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. 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. 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
"The Market for Lemons: Quality Uncertainty and the Market Mechanism" is a 1970 paper by the economist George Akerlof. It discusses information asymmetry, which occurs when the seller knows more about a product than the buyer. A lemon is an American slang term for a car that is found to be...
), 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. 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."
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. Alternatively, 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. Furthermore, academic dishonesty creates an atmosphere that is not conducive to the learning process, which affects honest students as well. 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.
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
A college is an educational institution or a constituent part of an educational institution. Usage varies in English-speaking nations...
, it can result in expulsion or dismissal (At the University of Virginia
The University of Virginia is a public research university located in Charlottesville, Virginia, United States, founded by Thomas Jefferson...
for instance, there are no lesser penalties than dismissal for breaches of the honor code). In rare instances, college professors have been fired
-Involuntary termination:Involuntary termination is the employee's departure at the hands of the employer. There are two basic types of involuntary termination, known often as being "fired" and "laid off." To be fired, as opposed to being laid off, is generally thought of to be the employee's...
when it was discovered that they plagiarized during college or graduate school. 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
The term in loco parentis, Latin for "in the place of a parent"" refers to the legal responsibility of a person or organization to take on some of the functions and responsibilities of a parent...
and was able to regulate student behavior as a parent. 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 adults.
First at the College of William and Mary
The College of William & Mary in Virginia is a public research university located in Williamsburg, Virginia, United States...
in 1779, and then followed by schools like the University of Virginia in the 1850s and Wesleyan University
Wesleyan University is a private liberal arts college founded in 1831 and located in Middletown, Connecticut. According to the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, Wesleyan is the only Baccalaureate College in the nation that emphasizes undergraduate instruction in the arts and...
in 1893, the students, with the agreement of faculty who declared themselves dedicated to ideals of democracy and human character, created honor codes. 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
The judiciary is the system of courts that interprets and applies the law in the name of the state. The judiciary also provides a mechanism for the resolution of disputes...
that hears alleged violations, unproctored examinations, and an obligation for all students help enforce the code. 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 boards
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 reality that no more than a quarter of American universities have adopted honor codes. 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. Still, though, over half of American universities continued to use faculty-centered control systems.
Student due process rights
Starting in the 1960s the U.S. Supreme Court began chipping away at the in loco parentis
doctrine, giving college students more civil liberties
Civil liberties are rights and freedoms that provide an individual specific rights such as the freedom from slavery and forced labour, freedom from torture and death, the right to liberty and security, right to a fair trial, the right to defend one's self, the right to own and bear arms, the right...
such as the right of due process
Due process is the legal code that the state must venerate all of the legal rights that are owed to a person under the principle. Due process balances the power of the state law of the land and thus protects individual persons from it...
in disciplinary proceedings (Dixon v. Alabama Board of Education,
1961). 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:
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 codes
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
The University of Maryland, College Park is a top-ranked public research university located in the city of College Park in Prince George's County, Maryland, just outside Washington, D.C...
. 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. 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. 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.
Comparison of different systems of enforcement
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. 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. 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. 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 dishonesty
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. 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. A third survey of professors found that while 79% had observed cheating, only 9% had penalized the student. According to a manual for professors on cheating,
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.
Some professors may have little incentive to reduce cheating in their classes below a point that would otherwise be obvious to outside observers, as they are rated by how many research papers they publish and research grants they win for the college, and not by how well they teach.
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." However, there is an argument that postmodernism is just moral relativism
Moral relativism may be any of several descriptive, meta-ethical, or normative positions. Each of them is concerned with the differences in moral judgments across different people and cultures:...
, therefore cheating is condoned as a valid academic method, even if it is morally and legally wrong. 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. 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."
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. 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.
Exposure of falsified data
With the advancement of the internet, there are now several tools available to aid in the detection of plagiarism and multiple publication
Duplicate publication, multiple publication, or redundant publication refers to publishing the same intellectual material more than once, by the author or publisher...
within biomedical literature. One tool developed in 2006 by researchers in Dr. Harold Garner
Harold Ray Garner is a biophysicist with distinguished research careers both in plasma physics, in bioengineering and bioinformatics. Dr. Garner was born in St. Louis, Mo. on February 5, 1954....
's laboratory at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas
The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center is one of the biomedical research institutions of the University of Texas System, incorporating three degree-granting institutions, four affiliated hospitals, including Parkland Memorial, the teaching hospital, and biomedical research...
is Déjà Vu
, an open-access database containing several thousand instances of duplicate publication.
- Combating academic fraud: Toward a culture of integrity by Max A. Eckstein, International Institute for Educational Planning, UNESCO
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations...
. 2003. 101 pages.
- The great university cheating scandal, Maclean's
Maclean's is a Canadian weekly news magazine, reporting on Canadian issues such as politics, pop culture, and current events.-History:Founded in 1905 by Toronto journalist/entrepreneur Lt.-Col. John Bayne Maclean, a 43-year-old trade magazine publisher who purchased an advertising agency's in-house...
magazine, February 9, 2007