Academic Dishonesty


Understanding Academic Dishonesty

Academic dishonesty is any form of dishonest practices that people engage in within an academic setting while carrying out a formal academic exercise. Virtually all levels of academic institutions have experienced some forms of academically dishonest acts throughout history in mostly all nations of the world. Unfortunately, much of these dishonest behaviours have been met with varying degrees of tacit approval over the years but in recent times, there has been a perceptible change in attitude of the academia to academic dishonesty in most nations of the world especially the developed world.

Tracing the Growth in the Consciousness of Academic Dishonesty

The notion of academic dishonesty was neither well defined nor existed in the mainstream consciousness of the educated elite until the recent times simply because the conditions that warrant such did not yet exist. For instance, in pre-modern or medieval times, the concept of intellectual property did not yet exist. The educated elite were generally relatively few and what existed among them was mutual trust. People could freely quote from one another without infringing on copyright laws. Before the turn of the twentieth century there were no set rules to determine how people could quote from other people’s works thus leading to many cases of ignorant plagiarism. As knowledge advanced, it became increasingly clear that boundaries would have to be set as to what is permissible and so higher education in the United States tended towards merit based evaluation. Consequently, student bodies that viewed academic dishonesty negatively sprang up.

But even today, academic dishonesty seems to have attained epidemic proportions. National and global statistics on all forms of cheating during academic exercises are indeed sobering. In the United States of America, academic dishonesty affects all levels of education from the first grade to university education. Available statistics show that 20% of students cheated from the first grade while 56% and 70 % of students in middle and high schools have engaged in it. Even teachers have been found to cheat with some found to have inflated their students’ scores to improve their own rating as teachers.

Types of Academic Dishonesty

Academically dishonest acts occur in many different forms such as plagiarism, fabrication, deception, cheating, bribery, sabotage, impersonation and professional misconduct. Plagiarism involves adopting or reproducing the created works of another person without proper official acknowledgement. Fabrication is the act of providing fictitious information for academic purposes such as falsifying data for a research paper. Deception is the act of giving out false information to an instructor in carrying out a formal academic exercise. Sabotage involves acting in ways as to prevent someone from completing their academic work.