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


Recommended Actions to Prevent Cheating


  • Announce the first day of class what your policies are for handling cases of academic dishonesty. When you discover cases of academic dishonesty, report them to the Academic Judiciary Office (College of Art & Science: 631-632-7080; College of Engineering: 632-8381).
  • Provide clear information about your expectations, including your standards of what constitutes sufficient documentation of a source and what constitutes unacceptable levels of collaboration among students in the course.


  • Be sure exam copies are secure before an exam, including before and after copying process.
  • Prohibit all conversation once students enter the exam room.
  • Recommend (for their own protection) that students not sit near anyone they know or had studied with.
  • Before the exam begins, have students put any unnecessary materials under their seats or at the front of the room including jackets, book bags, etc.
  • Require spaced seating.
  • Use several forms of the exam, and alternate exam forms for seats in a given row and seats in adjacent rows. (It's often easier to copy from the person in front of you than it is to copy from the person at your side.)
  • Use plenty of proctors. This will allow the entire room to be watched, even when some of the proctors are answering students' questions and some are collecting exams. Note, however, that university policy prohibits undergraduates from serving as proctors.
  • Provide scrap paper and/or blue books which should be collected after the exam.
  • Don't allow students to wear hats, sunglasses, or headphones in the exam room.
  • Don't re-use questions from old exams, or don't allow students to keep (or borrow and copy) exams. If you have a no-circulation policy be sure you remove all tests from empty seats before leaving the exam room as well as making sure that all the TAs are informed of the policy.
  • Do not return scantrons or opscans to students.
  • Count the exams that are copied and that are passed out. Count the exams that are collected at the end of the exam.
  • Use a seating chart during exams, or hand out exams one by one that have a seat designation code written on each.
  • Check I.D.s. The use of a "ringer" in exams is not uncommon.
  • Through the university, you also have access to students' ID pictures, which print out 20 per page. Go to the university's home page, click on For Students , then on Registration, Records, and Academic Calendar Information (Registrar's Office). Click Data For Faculty/Staff. Enter your DoIT username and password. This gets you onto a secure site from which you can generate a current classlist, clicking on Class Rosters . After the list of names is generated, you can request a set of students' I.D. pictures.
  • Have each student sign his or her answer sheet.
  • Know what your policy will be concerning requests to leave the room during the exam (e.g., to go to the bathroom).
  • Do not allow any student to begin an exam after any other student has completed it and left the room.
  • Make your exams challenging enough that all students take most of the class period to finish.
  • For exams that involve short-answer questions or questions involving calculation, have each question graded for all students by a single T.A.
  • For short-answer questions on exams, or exam questions that require calculation, have the grader draw a line with magic marker through all empty space remaining below the student's answer. This guards against students adding to their answers and inappropriately submitting the exam for a re-grade.
  • Announce your policy before the day of the exam with regard to electronic devices (including calculators and English-other language dictionaries). Be aware that many of these are programmable.
  • If you allow printed dictionaries, require that students get permission from you before the day of the exam, and check them during the exam for additional marks.
  • Instruct your proctors about how to handle suspected cases of cheating. Realize that without such instruction, they are likely to feel intimidated about taking action.
  • Validate medical excuses by calling the physician who has signed a note.


  • Provide clear information about what constitutes plagiarism.
  • Require that students submit all work leading to their final product (e.g., drafts of term papers or equations leading to a problem solution).
  • Vary assignments each term and across different sections of a course.
  • Have any given homework or lab question graded for all students by a single T.A.
  • For labs or other math-heavy homeworks, consider having students submit over the internet and using developing software that screens for the use of variables so that unauthorized collaboration can be found.