Academic Dishonesty
Heather E. Lorimer Ph.D.

Youngstown State University, like all respectable educational institutions, considers academic honesty to be essential.  The point of education in most fields is to develop skills such as problem solving,  critical thinking,  information aquisition, and the ability to clearly express ideas to others through writing or speaking.  Grades are a way that progress towards these goals is measured. The final degree serves as a certification that a student has acquired these skills  - which are necessary to perform on the job or in school for a more advanced degree.

What is Academic Dishonesty?

Academic dishonesty is any form of conduct where an individual attempts to achieve a grade or present any scholarly work without performing all of the work themselves.  Academic dishonesty is commonly called "cheating" when the issue is copying answers for quizzes, tests, or homework, or "plagiarism" when some or all of the text of a paper or talk is lifted from another source without properly placing in quotes and referencing the source.  Copying as little as a single sentences or  even a phrase written by someone other than yourself is plagiarism.  Academic dishonesty includes a number of other tricks used to avoid actually mastering the material including making up, altering, or falsifying any data used in a report, obtaining tests or notes that are not specifically allowed to be in the student's possession to memorize answers without comprehending or solving the problems

Any student who cheats or plagiarizes is effectively a thief and/or a counterfeiter.

The Costs of Academic Dishonesty

A student committing academic dishonesty who is not caught and punished may go on to perform inadequately on the job or in an advanced degree program due to a lack of the skills and/or knowledge base that their degree and grades indicate they should have.  This in turn lowers the value of the courses, degree, and institution that awarded that degree in the eyes of employers and other academic institutions.  Students who earned their grades and degrees honestly can suffer from this devaluation, as they may be prejudged to be lacking in skills and knowledge based on the performance of dishonest predecessors.

Youngstown State University allows faculty members who have caught a student in academic dishonesty to punish the student by warning them, failing them on the exam or assignment, failing them in the class, or even initiating procedures to have notes made in the permanent record of the student, or even to be expelled from the University.

As with other crimes, knowing about a case of academic dishonesty without informing the instructor or other academic authority figure is a form of academic dishonesty in itself.  In some cases "snitches" may looked on with disfavor by fellow students, but employers and admissions committees for advanced degree programs (particularly medical school admission committees) may look very favorably on students who have reported academic dishonesty.

Few would argue that two of the most important problems facing our country and, in fact, our world are lack of adequate education and lack of  ethics.  Don't be a part of the problem!

Links to other articles on academic honesty:

"Definitions of Academic Dishonesty" used at Northwestern University
"Policy on Academic Dishonesty" an extensive definition of academic dishonesty used at Queens University.
"Legal Aspects of Academic Dishonesty: Policies, Perceptions, and Realities" by Dennis Bricault, North Park University, March, 1998
"The Academic Dishonesty Question"  the University of California at Santa Barbara's definition and policies regarding academic dishonesty.
"ERIC Digest on Academic Dishonesty"  A report of a study on academic dishonesty, inclding the demographics of those who cheat.  In general community colleges have the most cheating and students who cheat have lower GPAs, are more likely to be male than female, and have friends who cheat.

Few would argue that two of the most important problems facing our country and, in fact, our world are lack of adequate education and lack of ethics.  Don't be a part of the problem!