What is Academic Dishonesty?
What Are Examples of Academic Dishonesty?
How Can Educators Prevent Academic Dishonesty?
What Are the Consequences of Academic Dishonesty?
Detecting and Preventing Academic Dishonesty in Digital Assessments
The Impact of Academic Dishonesty
What to Expect in the Future?


Academic dishonesty has always been a concern for educators but it’s a hot topic in the age of AI.

This post is for the educators and institutions looking to better understand the newest threats to academic integrity and mitigate academic dishonesty, especially in the context of online exams.

Digital courses and assessments have risen since COVID, and with that increase comes new challenges. Online communication tools, hidden crib sheets, and generative AI are just a few of these challenges.

Interestingly, research carried out around 20 years ago foresaw a rise in opportunities for academic misconduct in a digital world (Kennedy et al., 2000; Rogers, 2006; Stuber-McEwen et al., 2005, Smith, 2005; Mecum, 2006). However, those researchers couldn’t have predicted the scope of the technology used for such assessments and how it would address these concerns. The main concerns back then were student collaboration and use of forbidden resources during the exam (Christe, 2003).

What is Academic Dishonesty?

Academic dishonesty is any unethical behavior that undermines the integrity of the academic process, such as cheating, plagiarism, or fabrication. This is increasingly relevant in contemporary education with the rise of online courses and exams, highlighting the importance of implementing robust measures to uphold academic integrity and ensure fair evaluation and learning outcomes.

Crucially, “it applies not just to students, but to everyone in the academic environment” (Cizek, 2003; Whitley, Jr. & Keith-Spiegel, 2002).

What Are Examples of Academic Dishonesty?

The main types of academic dishonesty and how they might be put into practice are:

  • Cheating
  • Plagiarism
  • Fabrication or falsification
  • Sabotage
  • Deception
  • Obtaining Unfair Advantage



Cheating is unauthorized assistance during exams or assignments. It may include looking at someone else’s work, using unauthorized materials, or collaborating with others when prohibited.


Plagiarism is the act of using someone else’s work, ideas, or words without proper attribution. This can involve copying and pasting text from sources without citation, paraphrasing without giving credit, or self-plagiarism, which is reusing your own previously submitted work without acknowledgment.

 Fabrication or Falsification

These terms both describe inventing or altering information, data, or citations. It may include making up sources, falsifying research findings, or manipulating data to support a particular conclusion.


Sabotage is disrupting others’ academic work or the learning environment. This can include hiding or damaging materials, tampering with experiments, or interfering with others’ access to resources.


Deception is misleading others or providing false information to gain an unfair advantage. This can include lying about personal circumstances to request deadline extensions, falsifying excuses for missing assignments, or misrepresenting one’s qualifications or achievements.

Obtaining Unfair Advantage

Obtaining Unfair Advantage is any action taken to gain an unfair advantage over others in an academic setting. It can involve accessing or circulating unauthorized information or resources, preventing other students accessing library materials, or hiring others to complete assignments.

How Can Educators Prevent Academic Dishonesty?

Academic dishonesty can happen through various means, including seeking outside help from individuals or services like cheating websites. It’s crucial for educational institutions to educate students about all forms of dishonesty, including emerging practices and implement measures to detect and prevent their occurrence. These measures could include remote proctoring, an originality checker or an ai detector.

Academic standards and integrity rely on addressing academic dishonesty, so working with students to protect their accreditation credibility builds trust and cooperation.

What Are the Consequences of Academic Dishonesty?

The consequence of academic dishonesty can vary depending on your field of study e.g. academic study in health settings can impact patient safety, in academia it can damage professional reputations and lead to distrust.

Consequences can also vary based on whether it’s a first offense, the severity of the offense, and individual institution policies. This could result in a warning, failed course or expulsion from the institution or accrediting body.

Detecting and Preventing Academic Dishonesty in Digital Assessments

Educators are essential allies in establishing a culture of integrity within academic institutions. Strategies to prevent dishonesty include implementing clear policies with consequences, promoting ethical decision-making, and providing comprehensive education on academic integrity. Educational approaches like honor codes and integrity training for students can reinforce these values.

With the rise of online exams, unique challenges emerge, such as digital cheating methods. To address this, designing open book online assessments can build the need for reference material into the assessment.

Tools like remote proctoring, an originality checker and ai detector for detecting dishonesty are valuable resources for educators to make decisions around potential misconduct.

Remote proctoring, for instance, monitors students during online exams to ensure compliance with integrity standards.

Additionally, an originality checker (or plagiarism checker) can play a role in understanding the gaps in students’ understanding of proper citation in assignments.

Whereas AI detection can give insight into whether a student has used generative AI tools, like Chat GPT, to write their work, and to what degree.

By leveraging these tools and techniques, academic institutions can effectively combat academic dishonesty and maintain the integrity of their educational programs.

The Impact of Academic Dishonesty

If there is potential academic dishonesty or plagiarism detected through the use of an originality checker or AI prediction tool, there are likely to be consequences to those findings.

There are both short-term and long-term impacts of academic dishonesty for students, educators, institutions, and the academic community.

Immediate consequences may include failing grades and damaged reputations for students, while educators face an increased workload and potentially trust issues with their class. Institutions suffer reputational damage and potential legal repercussions.

Long-term effects may include students’ future opportunities and erode educators’ morale and confidence. The academic community’s credibility and research potential are also at stake.

In the United States, colleges grapple with maintaining academic integrity, particularly during online examinations. Evolving cheating methods and the need for faculty training pose significant obstacles. Addressing these challenges requires an ongoing effort involving stakeholders across academia to develop and implement effective strategies that balance integrity with the opportunities of online learning.

What to Expect in the Future?

Each year, Harvard releases its annual report on academic misconduct, including the number of cases investigated and the results of those investigations. However, this is rare in the sector and, while it gives a clear data set to track the trends in academic dishonesty, it is only one institution.

While the jury’s out on how academic dishonesty will progress in the coming years if left unchecked, there is technology to help institutions mitigate the risks. Implementing online proctoring, plagiarism checkers and AI detectors alongside clear guidelines and education around the risks offers hope to educators.


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 What is Academic Honesty?

Academic honesty is the practice of ensuring your academic work upholds the standards of originality, attribution, and accountability as established by your institution and the wider academic community.

 What is Academic Integrity?

Academic integrity is the continued commitment to six fundamental values: honesty, trust, fairness, respect, responsibility, and courage. These values were defined by researchers at the International Center of Academic Integrity (ICAI) in 1992.