Tips to Prevent Academic Dishonesty

It is important that instructors put a statement regarding academic dishonesty in their syllabi. This informs students that you are aware that cheating occurs and that you plan to pursue all incidents of academic dishonesty. Just as importantly, it allows you to formally clarify what sorts of grey-area actions are or aren't acceptable in your course (e.g., collaborative work). You may want to include a statement about your policy for handling cases of suspected cheating (e.g., "Any instance of academic dishonesty will be reported to the Academic Judiciary Committee and can result in an F for the course.")

Cases of plagiarism often involve students improperly using Internet sources. If you allow students to use internet sources in papers for your class, tell them to include the URLs for those sources in their bibliography. You should warn them that copying (or closely paraphrasing text) text or figures from a website without citing it and placing it in quotation marks is plagiarism. It is no different from doing the same thing with a printed source. Professing ignorance of this rule will not be accepted as a legitimate basis for appealing an accusation of academic dishonesty.

If you suspect a student has plagiarized an internet source, the simplest way to test this hypothesis is to type a few key terms related to the topic of the paper or phrases from the suspect paper into "Google" or some similar search engine. (This is how the students find the sources in the first place.) If the student has plagiarized an internet source, you will probably find it in the first dozen "hits".

Approaches to Prevention:

An excellent discussion of plagiarism can be found at


Categories of Academic Dishonesty
Recommended Actions to Prevent Cheating
Legal Protection For Accusers


Categories of Academic Dishonesty

Examples of Academic Dishonesty on...

... Exams

  • Copying test answers from someone else.
  • Allowing someone else to copy your answers.
  • Using unpermitted notes of any kind during an exam.
  • Using unauthorized electronic devices to cheat in an exam.
  • Receiving unauthorized access to an exam prior to the test.
  • Altering an answer after receiving a grade and resubmitting it for a re-grade.
  • Impersonation (e.g., having a "ringer" take an exam in your name, serving as a "ringer" for someone else, signing in someone's name on an attendance roster if that person is absent, having someone do so for you)


... Plagiarism

Plagiarism is defined as "the unacknowledged use of another person's work, in the form of original ideas, strategies, and research as well as another person's writing, in the form of sentences, phrases, and innovative terminology" (Spatt, 183, p. 438). Students should be clear about their instructors' standards for citing sources and should seek help when in doubt. Whether plagiarism is intentional or unintentional, it is still a violation of the university's Code of Academic Conduct and is prosecutable. The following are all cases in which a student can be charged with plagiarism:

  • Using a paper or pieces of a paper from the internet without properly citing the source.
  • Buying or selling written work.
  • Representing someone else's written work as one's own, even if only the ideas , and not the words themselves, are taken from someone else. If another person's words or ideas are being used, they must be properly cited.
  • Unpermitted collaboration (on a paper, homework, lab reports, etc.). Unless an instructor has explicitly approved working together, students should assume, for their own protection, that it is not permitted.
  • Helping someone else to plagiarize from one's own paper or homework (for example, by giving them a copy of yours, or giving them the idea on which to base theirs, or doing it for them).


... Multiple Submissions of Identical Work for Credit

For example, using the same paper for two courses.


... Providing of False Records

The following can all lead to an accusation of academic dishonesty:

  • Fabricating or altering an excuse note. (In research reported by Keith-Spiegel, 50% of excuses for missing exams that are submitted by college students are false.)
  • Making up references in a paper.
  • Falsifying one's own course records.
  • Presenting a false or altered transcript.


... Invention or Alteration of True Data

The invention or use of data that was not observed or collected using valid research methods.


... Sabotage

Inappropriately and deliberately harming someone else's academic performance.


... Coersion or Offering of Bribes

For example, coercing a fellow student for answers, or offering favors to an instructor or TA.