Lately, academic honesty has become a major issue among the elite in the academic environments. It can no longer be simply defined as the carrying of illegal materials into the exam rooms or copying someone else’s work. Indeed, with growth in technology like smart phones and emergence of the use of internet in research work has caused administrators in universities and colleges to extend the definition of academic honesty or dishonesty.
Academic honesty involves the students submitting work that is originally theirs and inclusion of the cited sources in their work. The academic community is generally aware that it is not possible for students to come up with their own original work and therefore, allow inclusion of other people’s work in form of direct quotes of paraphrases only if the original author is appropriately acknowledged. Academic honesty takes different forms and addresses in various aspects in schools and colleges.
Academic honesty is considered important because the results obtained from schools or colleges are referred to in future. Future employers refer to these documents when assessing the abilities and gifts of the students before actual employment.
Therefore, high levels of integrity should be adhered to in order to ensure quality reports and accurate assessment of the student’s abilities and potential (Vegh, 2009). Students commit academic dishonesty when they engage in activities that are classified in four general types; namely, cheating, dishonest conduct, plagiarism and collusion.
Cheating is the most ancient form of academic dishonesty known in history. It takes different forms whereby the rules and regulations governing formal or informal examinations are violated. For instance, copying other people’s work during examination, sharing one’s answers with another during examinations, or submission of other people’s work, as one’s own original work.
During examinations, invigilators are placed strategically in the exam room to monitor the behavior of students but some students attempt to share answers (Vegh, 2009). A student is not allowed to communicate to their fellow students in an exam room without the express permission of the invigilator and a violation of these rule amounts to cheating. Taking an examination on behalf of another student also amounts to cheating. Generally, cheating offers unfair advantage to the students involved over the rest.
Unfair advantage could also be meted on students when they commit dishonest conducts like stealing examination or answer keys from the instructor. Desperate times call for desperate measures and students are capable of doing anything to rescue their dreams of scooping first class honors.
Such cases have been reported severally and they can be classified as dishonest conduct (“What is Academic Dishonesty”, 1996, p.77). Further, students who try to change official academic results without following the procedures laid by the respective academic institutions commit dishonest conducts. Obtaining answers before the actual exam or altering records after certification leads to low academic standards.
Plagiarism is the recent form of violating academic honesty and defined as intellectual theft. The crime comes in when one makes use of another person’s findings, as if his/hers, without giving the due credit to the source. Plagiarism takes the form of stealing other people’s ideas or words and the form of use of other people’s work without crediting the source properly.
The sources mentioned here include articles from electronic journals, newspaper articles, published books, and even websites (Bouchard, 2010). The internet has become a source of information for research and the easy accessibility and convenience of the same provides a temptation to the students to copy and paste other people’s work.
However, it amounts to plagiarism and is classified as a violation of academic honesty. Though plagiarism can be either intentional or unintentional on the part of the student, it still amounts to academic dishonesty either way. Students should therefore be careful to ensure that their work is free of any form of plagiarism.
Preventing Academic dishonesty
Academic institutions have come up with measures to curb the spread of academic dishonesty to maintain the credibility of their programs. Academic dishonesty leads to production of half-baked graduates who lower the standards of education hence that of the university (Staats, Hupp, & Hagley, 2008, p.360).
Students who commit academic dishonesty do not think on their own hence they do not develop the art of thinking which is critical for quality education. Ensuring enough spacing between students in the exam rooms and adhering to silence during exams reduces the rate of cheating in institutions. Instructors should also participate fully in ensuring that the work presented by students meets the set standards in respective academic institutions.
Instructors should be able to call the students and ask them questions regarding their submitted work to ensure that they wrote the work themselves. Technological developments also assist in fighting these vices in institutions. Software development in the computer science field has developed software able to detect plagiarism. This software, known as anti-plagiarism software, runs scans through the internet by comparing the submitted articles with various databases in the internet.
The sentences are compared and any of them found matching in a particular percentage is classified as plagiarism. Academic institutions use this software to ensure that students do not copy directly and they appropriately acknowledge their sources (Celik, 2009, p.275). In some institutions, violation of anti-plagiarism or academic honesty rules in general amount to punishment of different forms that in worst-case result to expulsion from these academic institutions.
The forms of academic dishonesty and methods of prevention discussed above are only general descriptions. However, they can be discussed further into way that is more specific and forms that would help improve the standards of education in academic institutions through policy research by the concerned institutions. Academic honesty is crucial to the growth of a country’s economy because integrity defines the character of future graduates.
Bouchard, K. (2010). Discipline in Schools: Technology tests academic honesty. McClatchy – Tribune Business News. Retrieved June 9 2011, from
Celik, C. (2009). Perceptions of University Students on Academic Honesty as Related to Gender, University Type, and Major in Turkey. Journal of American Academy of Business, 14(2), 271-278.
Staats, S., Hupp, J., & Hagley, A. (2008). Honesty and Heroes: A Positive Psychology View of Heroism and Academic Honesty. The Journal of Psychology, 42(4), 357-72.
Vegh, G. S. (2009). Academic honesty for a new generation. McClatchy – Tribune Business News. Retrieved June 9 2011, from
“What is Academic Dishonesty” (1996). In Teaching Resources Guide 1996-1997 (pp. 77-78). Irvine, CA: Instructional Resources Center, University of California.