5 Academic Integrity in College

David Evans


What you’ll learn to do: define academic honesty and understand consequences of academic dishonesty


I would prefer even to fail with honor than win by cheating.


By the end of this section, you will be able to define academic honesty and common forms of academic dishonesty. You will also identify common scenarios that can lead to academic dishonesty and possible consequences. In addition, you will identify strategies for avoiding plagiarism.

Academic Honesty and Dishonesty

Learning Outcomes

  • Define academic honesty and common forms of academic dishonesty

At most educational institutions, “academic honesty” means demonstrating and upholding the highest integrity and honesty in all the academic work that you do. In short, it means doing your own work and not cheating, and not presenting the work of others as your own.

The following are some common forms of academic dishonesty prohibited by most academic institutions.


Cheating can take the form of crib notes, looking over someone’s shoulder during an exam, or any forbidden sharing of information between students regarding an exam or exercise. Many elaborate methods of cheating have been developed over the years—from hiding notes in the bathroom toilet tank to storing information in graphing calculators, pagers, cell phones, and other electronic devices. Cheating differs from most other forms of academic dishonesty in that people can engage in it without benefiting themselves academically at all. For example, a student who illicitly texted answers to a friend during a test would be cheating, even though the student’s own work is in no way affected.


Deception is providing false information to an instructor concerning an academic assignment. Examples of this deception include taking more time on a take-home test than is allowed, giving a dishonest excuse when asking for a deadline extension, or falsely claiming to have submitted work.


Fabrication is the falsification of data, information, or citations in an academic assignment, including making up citations to back up arguments or inventing quotations. Fabrication is most common in the natural sciences where students sometimes falsify data to make experiments “work” or false claims are made about the research performed.


As a college student, you are now a member of a scholarly community that values other people’s ideas. In fact, you will routinely be asked to reference and discuss other people’s thoughts and writing in the course of producing your own work. That’s why it’s so important to understand what plagiarism is and steps you can take to avoid it.

Plagiarism, as defined in the 1995 Random House Compact Unabridged Dictionary, is the “use or close imitation of the language and thoughts of another author and the representation of them as one’s own original work.”[1] In an academic setting, it is seen as the adoption or reproduction of original intellectual creations (such as concepts, ideas, methods, pieces of information or expressions, etc.) of another author (whether an individual, group, or organization) without proper acknowledgment. This reproduction can range from borrowing a particular phrase or sentence to paraphrasing someone else’s original idea without citing it. Today, in our networked digital world, the most common form of plagiarism is copying and pasting online material without crediting the source.

What Can Lead to Plagiarism

Learning Objectives

  • Identify common scenarios that can lead to academic dishonesty and possible consequences

Person holding a red pen.Common Forms of Plagiarism

According to “The Reality and Solution of College Plagiarism” created by the Health Informatics department of the University of Illinois at Chicago, there are ten main forms of plagiarism that students commit:

  1. Submitting someone else’s work as their own.
  2. Taking passages from their own previous work without adding citations.
  3. Rewriting someone’s work without properly citing sources.
  4. Using quotations, but not citing the source.
  5. Interweaving various sources together in the work without citing.
  6. Citing some, but not all passages that should be cited.
  7. Melding together cited and uncited sections of the piece.
  8. Providing proper citations, but failing to change the structure and wording of the borrowed ideas enough.
  9. Inaccurately citing the source.
  10. Relying too heavily on other people’s work. Failing to bring original thought into the text.
  11. Using artificial intelligence (AI) generated material without direct authorization from your professor.
  12. Submitting any academic accomplishment in whole or in part for credit more than once whether in the same course or in different courses without the prior consent of the instructor.

FSW’s Definition of Plagiarism

Plagiarism is an act of academic dishonesty that involves a person committing one or more of the following actions: portraying any portion of another’s work as the person’s (including turning in work that an individual other than the person prepared, regardless of the willingness of the individual), portraying another author’s idea(s) as the person’s, misrepresenting a source’s meaning or content, or inadequate citation or missing citation. Plagiarism can occur in three main categories: wording, content, and citation. Plagiarism due to wording occurs when a person uses the wording of the original without quotes. Plagiarism due to content occurs when a person rewords the original but does so too closely and often without giving the original author credit. It can also occur when a person misconstrues the meaning of the source, effectively claiming the original author stated content or opinions that he/she did not. Citation plagiarism occurs when parenthetical citations or works cited entries are missing or inaccurate. Using a source in a paper and failing to include a citation entry is also considered plagiarism as it does not allow the readers to access the original source.

More information about FSW’s Academic Integrity Policy can be found in the College Catalog.

Artificial Intelligence and Academic Integrity

Recent advances in artificial intelligence promise both challenges and exciting opportunities. Students must be careful not to use artificial intelligence to assist in course assignments in a way that violates FSW policy or a specific professor’s policies. You will likely find that some professors are more open to student use of AI than others, but no professor will accept work composed completely by artificial intelligence presented as your own efforts.

Below is FSW’s message to students regarding AI.

Students can avoid academic misconduct via artificial intelligence by carefully reviewing each professor’s AI policy on their syllabus. Ask professors for clarification if their policies on the use of AI are unclear. Another way to protect yourself if you are ever accused of plagiarism is to document your writing and research process carefully. Using Google Docs to compose writing assignments is a good idea, as students can show their revision history if questioned by a professor. This checklist for the ethical use of AI can help you prevent academic misconduct accusations or defend the merit of your work if necessary.

Using AI like Chat GPT and other programs may seem like a good way to get assignments done quickly. But unless it’s specifically assigned by a professor, it’s a violation of FSW’s Academic Integrity Policy.

Why? In order to elevate your opportunities, you have to know how to learn. Part of our promise to you is high standards and amazing opportunities, and your diploma is our promise to your community and future employers that you’ve mastered the skills and knowledge required by your degree.

The College policy says this.

“Cheating includes giving or receiving unauthorized aid or information by copying, by using materials not authorized, by attempting to receive credit for work performed by another, or by otherwise failing to abide by academic rules. The person who aids an individual in cheating will be held equally responsible.”

Authorized resources are support resources provided, required, or recommended by FSW or the course professor. Unauthorized resources are not provided, required, or recommended by FSW or the course professor.

If a professor invites you to use AI in a course, the use is authorized only in that course. Make sure you get all the information you need to use a tool ethically and intelligently.

It’s an exciting time in the world, an exciting time to learn and to be a Buccaneer. Let’s navigate it together in ways we can all be proud of.


What Leads to Academic Dishonesty?

When you’re starting off in school, you might be convinced that you would never plagiarize. While it’s helpful to value and identify with academic integrity, it doesn’t hurt to consider common scenarios that lead students to cheat so you can recognize and defuse them if you encounter them during your time in school.

Running Out of Time

Let’s say it’s the night before a big paper is due and you haven’t started it. An assignment that would have been manageable had you spaced it out over a few weeks now seems completely impossible. You truly feel that you have run out of time. You may feel tempted to try to use other people’s work to piece together a paper to submit on time.

If you’ve left your paper until the last minute, you will be better off submitting subpar work or asking for an extension than you would be risking your academic career by plagiarizing your paper.

Peer Pressure

Another situation that might lead you to academic dishonesty is peer pressure. Maybe instead of you, it’s your best friend who left her paper until the last minute, and she asks you to write it for her because she’s too stressed and tired to do it herself. It can be very hard to say no.

Writing an assignment for a peer will not help them learn the course materials in their classes and may even lead to more requests that you continue to do their assignments for them.

Pressure to Perform

Another roadblock to academic integrity can be the pressure to perform academically. Students can face an immense amount of pressure to achieve high grades, whether it’s to keep their academic-based scholarships, to ensure they pass a class they are close to failing, or to please their parents or other people who are invested in their academic performance.

If you are feeling crunched by academic pressure to achieve high grades or simply pass your classes, but are having trouble making the grades you want, you should seek out academic support instead of using other people’s work as your own. Perhaps there’s a reason your grades have dipped. Seeking help and support for mental or physical health issues or issues outside of school that are affecting your performance is far preferable to plagiarizing to pass a single assignment.

Not Understanding the Definition of Plagiarism

Finally, students may plagiarize because they do not understand that what they are doing is plagiarism.

Become familiar with your school’s definition of plagiarism, and the expectations for academic integrity that are set in your courses. Plagiarizing unknowingly and being confronted for it is very stressful, and it can be really hard for instructors to know whether or not you plagiarized on purpose.

Remember, submitting other people’s work as your own or doing other students’ assignments for them does not contribute to your overall goals at school of learning the course material and demonstrating your knowledge. No matter how dire a situation might seem, be it turning in an assignment on time, or achieving a high enough grade to pass a class, there are other ways of dealing with these situations that do not require plagiarism.

Avoiding Plagiarism

Learning Outcomes

  • Identify strategies for avoiding plagiarism

Avoiding Plagiarism

Below are some useful guidelines to help you avoid plagiarism and show academic honesty in your work:

  • Quotes: If you quote another work directly in your work, cite your source.
  • Paraphrase: If you put someone else’s idea into your own words, you still need to cite the author.
  • Visual materials: If you cite statistics, graphs, or charts from a study, cite the source. Keep in mind that if you didn’t do the original research, then you need to credit the person(s) or institution, etc. that did the research.

The easiest way to make sure you don’t accidentally plagiarize someone else’s work is by taking careful notes as you research. If you are doing research online, be sure to copy and paste the links into your notes so you can keep track of the sites you’re visiting. Be sure to list all the sources you consult.

There are many handy online tools to help you create and track references as you go. For example, you can try using Son of Citation Machine. Keeping careful notes will not only help you avoid inadvertent plagiarism; it will also help you if you need to return to a source later (to check it or get more information). If you use citation tools like Son of Citation, be sure to check the accuracy of the citations before you submit your assignment.

Lastly, if you’re in doubt about whether something constitutes plagiarism, cite the source or leave the material out. Better still, ask for help. FSW has instructional assistants who specialize in writing at the Academic Support Center on each campus. Students can also meet with an instructional assistant on Zoom through the Academic Support Center website or utilize Tutor.com to get help with citing sources in writing. Taking the time to seek advice is better than getting in trouble for not attributing your sources. Be honest about your ideas and give credit where it’s due.

How to avoid plagiarism

Watch the video below for more information on how to avoid plagiarism.

Consequences of Plagiarism

In the academic world, plagiarism by students is usually considered a very serious offense that can result in short-term consequences such as a failing grade on the particular assignment or the entire course. However, there are a number of long-term consequences you should be familiar with. If you are receiving a scholarship, you may lose access to it if you’re put on academic probation as a result of plagiarism. Plagiarism may even result in being expelled from the institution and can make transferring to another institution difficult.

When you’re planning for your time beyond school, plagiarism may affect your ability to receive a letter of recommendation from an instructor, which is often required for application to grad school and sometimes useful for job applications. Additionally, if you were expelled from your institution as a result of plagiarism, it might be hard to explain that expulsion to a prospective employer.

Individual instructors and courses may have their own policies regarding academic honesty and plagiarism; statements of these policies can usually be found in the course syllabus or online course description. Just remember that the consequences of plagiarism are likely to far outweigh whatever benefit you may gain, so just stick with producing and submitting your own work while you’re in school.

FSW’s Academic Integrity Policy Procedures

When a faculty member determines that a violation of the Academic Integrity Policy has occurred, the faculty member will notify the student of the offense.

The following actions may be taken by faculty for students in violation of the Academic Integrity Policy:

  1. Referral to the appropriate support service
  2. Assignment of a reduced grade on the plagiarized academic exercise
  3. Assignment of a final letter grade/reduction for the course
  4. Assignment of an “F” for the course

The faculty member will then send an Academic Misconduct Report, for tracking purposes, to the Dean of Students within 10 business days after the date on which the faculty member identifies the violation. The Academic Misconduct Report will document the circumstances surrounding the accusation and any adjustment to a grade or other action recommended by the faculty member.

Students with multiple Academic Integrity Policy violation referrals will be subject to the Student Code of Conduct process. A printed notation may be included on the student’s official academic transcript indicating that the student has been found to be in repeat violation of the Academic Integrity Policy (see the Student Code of Conduct for information regarding the conduct procedures and sanctions). Violation of the Academic Integrity Policy will not be approved as an extenuating circumstance for purposes of late drop or withdrawal.

More information about FSW’s procedures for academic integrity violations and the appeals process can be found in the College Catalog.


academic dishonesty: any violation of scholarly ethics, such as plagiarism or the fabrication of data, that can lead to serious disciplinary consequences

plagiarism: a form of academic dishonesty in which a student claims credit for thinking or phrasing which is not her own

academic honesty: a set of sound scholarly practices that includes keeping careful notes when researching, scrupulously citing one’s sources, and only claiming credit for thinking and phrasing that is the result of one’s own work

  1. Library Plagiarism Policies. Association of College and Research Libraries, 2007.


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Academic Integrity in College Copyright © 2023 by David Evans is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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