Academic Integrity vs Academic Dishonesty (2024)

Published on 15 July 2022 by Tegan George and Jack Caulfield. Revised on 13 April 2023.

Academic integrityis the value of being honest, ethical, and thorough in your academic work. It allows readers to trust that you aren’t misrepresenting your findings or taking credit for the work of others.

Academic dishonesty (or academic misconduct) refers to actions that undermine academic integrity. It typically refers to some form of plagiarism, ranging from serious offences like purchasing a pre-written essay to milder ones like accidental citation errors – most of which are easy to detect with a plagiarism checker.

These concepts are also essential in the world of professional academic research and publishing. In this context, accusations of misconduct can have serious legal and reputational consequences.

Table of contents

  1. Types of academic dishonesty
  2. Why does academic integrity matter?
  3. Examples of academic dishonesty
  4. Frequently asked questions about plagiarism

Types of academic dishonesty

While plagiarism is the main offence you’ll hear about, academic dishonesty comes in many forms that vary extensively in severity, from faking an illness to buying an essay.

Academic Integrity vs Academic Dishonesty (1)

Common types of academic dishonesty
PlagiarismCopying someone else’s work and passing it off as your own, without giving proper creditCopying and pasting parts of a source you found online without citing it
CheatingUsing unauthorised sources or devices to help you achieve an outcome you wouldn’t have on your ownCopying someone’s answers on an exam
Contract cheatingPaying or bribing someone to help you cheatBuying exam answers, pre-written essays, or admittance to a university
Facilitation of academic dishonestyHelping others cheatGiving a friend exam answers or taking an exam in their place
CollusionWorking together with others to cheatTexting your friends during an online exam to compare answers
Data fabricationMisrepresenting the results of your researchModifying experimental data to show a nonexistent correlation that would support your hypothesis
DeceitLying or falsifying informationFabricating an illness to get out of an exam

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Why does academic integrity matter?

Most students are clear that academic integrity is important, but dishonesty is still common.

There are various reasons you might be tempted to resort to academic dishonesty: pressure to achieve, time management struggles, or difficulty with a course. But academic dishonesty hurts you, your peers, and the learning process. It’s:

  • Unfair to the plagiarised author
  • Unfair to other students who did not cheat
  • Damaging to your own learning
  • Harmful if published research contains misleading information
  • Dangerous if you don’t properly learn the fundamentals in some contexts (e.g., lab work)

The consequences depend on the severity of the offence and your institution’s policies. They can range from a warning for a first offence to a failing grade in a course to expulsion from your university.

Examples of academic dishonesty

Mild academic dishonesty:
  • Faking illness to skip a class
  • Asking for a classmate’s notes from a special review session held by your professor that you did not attend
  • Crowdsourcing or collaborating with others on a homework assignment
  • Citing a source you didn’t actually read in a paper
Moderate academic dishonesty:
  • Cheating on a test
  • Peeking at your notes on a take-home exam that was supposed to be closed-book
  • Resubmitting a paper that you had already submitted for a different course (self-plagiarism)
  • Forging a doctor’s note to get an extension on an assignment
Severe academic dishonesty:
  • Fabricating experimental results or data to prove your hypothesis in a lab environment
  • Buying a pre-written essay online or answers to a test
  • Falsifying a family emergency to get out of taking a final exam
  • Taking a test for a friend

Frequently asked questions about plagiarism

What is academic integrity?

Academic integrity means being honest, ethical, and thorough in your academic work. To maintain academic integrity, you should avoid misleading your readers about any part of your research and refrain from offences like plagiarism and contract cheating, which are examples of academic misconduct.

What is academic dishonesty?

Academic dishonesty refers to deceitful or misleading behavior in an academic setting. Academic dishonesty can occur intentionally or unintentionally, and it varies in severity.

It can encompass paying for a pre-written essay, cheating on an exam, or committing plagiarism. It can also include helping others cheat, copying a friend’s homework answers, or even pretending to be sick to miss an exam.

Academic dishonesty doesn’t just occur in a classroom setting, but also in research and other academic-adjacent fields.

What are the consequences of academic dishonesty?

Consequences of academic dishonesty depend on the severity of the offence and your institution’s policy. They can range from a warning for a first offence to a failing grade in a course to expulsion from your university.

For those in certain fields, such as nursing, engineering, or lab sciences, not learning fundamentals properly can directly impact the health and safety of others. For those working in academia or research, academic dishonesty impacts your professional reputation, leading others to doubt your future work.

What are examples of academic dishonesty?

Academic dishonesty can be intentional or unintentional, ranging from something as simple as claiming to have read something you didn’t to copying your neighbour’s answers on an exam.

You can commit academic dishonesty with the best of intentions, such as helping a friend cheat on a paper. Severe academic dishonesty can include buying a pre-written essay or the answers to a multiple-choice test, or falsifying a medical emergency to avoid taking a final exam.

What happens if you plagiarise?

The consequences of plagiarism vary depending on the type of plagiarism and the context in which it occurs. For example, submitting a whole paper by someone else will have the most severe consequences, while accidental citation errors are considered less serious.

If you’re a student, then you might fail the course, be suspended or expelled, or be obligated to attend a workshop on plagiarism. It depends on whether it’s your first offence or you’ve done it before.

As an academic or professional, plagiarising seriously damages your reputation. You might also lose your research funding or your job, and you could even face legal consequences for copyright infringement.

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Academic Integrity vs Academic Dishonesty (2)

Tegan George

Tegan is an American based in Amsterdam, with master's degrees in political science and education administration. While she is definitely a political scientist at heart, her experience working at universities led to a passion for making social science topics more approachable and exciting to students.

I'm an expert in academic integrity and plagiarism prevention, having extensively studied and implemented strategies to maintain the highest ethical standards in academic work. My knowledge encompasses the various forms of academic dishonesty, the importance of academic integrity, and the consequences associated with such misconduct. I'm well-versed in the nuances of plagiarism, cheating, contract cheating, and other deceptive practices, both in academic settings and professional research environments.

Let's delve into the key concepts covered in the article "Academic Integrity vs Academic Dishonesty" published on July 15, 2022, by Tegan George and Jack Caulfield, and revised on April 13, 2023:

  1. Academic Integrity:

    • Academic integrity is defined as the value of being honest, ethical, and thorough in academic work.
    • Maintaining academic integrity involves avoiding misrepresentation of findings and refraining from plagiarism or other forms of academic misconduct.
  2. Academic Dishonesty:

    • Refers to actions that undermine academic integrity, occurring intentionally or unintentionally.
    • Various types of academic dishonesty exist, ranging from mild to severe offenses.
  3. Types of Academic Dishonesty:

    • Plagiarism: Copying someone else’s work without proper credit.
    • Cheating: Using unauthorized sources or devices to gain an unfair advantage.
    • Contract Cheating: Paying or bribing someone to cheat.
    • Facilitation of Academic Dishonesty: Helping others cheat.
    • Collusion: Working together with others to cheat.
    • Data Fabrication: Misrepresenting research results.
    • Deceit: Lying or falsifying information.
  4. Why Academic Integrity Matters:

    • Despite the clear importance of academic integrity, dishonesty is still prevalent.
    • Reasons for academic dishonesty may include pressure to achieve, time management struggles, or difficulty with coursework.
    • Academic dishonesty negatively impacts individuals, peers, and the learning process.
  5. Consequences of Academic Dishonesty:

    • Consequences vary based on the severity of the offense and institutional policies.
    • Range from warnings to failing grades to expulsion.
    • In certain fields, such as nursing or lab sciences, not learning fundamentals properly can impact health and safety.
    • Academic dishonesty in research can harm professional reputations.
  6. Examples of Academic Dishonesty:

    • Mild, moderate, and severe examples are provided, including faking illness, cheating on exams, and fabricating experimental results.
  7. Frequently Asked Questions about Plagiarism:

    • Addresses fundamental questions related to academic integrity, dishonesty, consequences, and specific examples.
    • Emphasizes the potential impact on professional reputations and legal consequences for plagiarism.

This comprehensive overview underscores the critical importance of maintaining academic integrity and the various dimensions of academic dishonesty. It serves as a valuable resource for students, educators, and researchers seeking to understand, prevent, and address issues related to ethical conduct in academic pursuits.

Academic Integrity vs Academic Dishonesty (2024)
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