5.5 The Honest Truth

Learning Objectives

  1. Understand the importance of academic integrity and the consequences of dishonesty.
  2. Identify most common types of academic dishonesty.

Throughout this book we have focused on the active process of learning, not just on how to get good grades. The attitude of some students that grades are the end-all in academics has led many students to resort to academic dishonesty to try to get the best possible grades or handle the pressure of an academic program. Although you may be further tempted if you’ve heard people say, “Everybody does it,” or “It’s no big deal at my school,” you should be mindful of the consequences of cheating:

  • You don’t learn as much. Cheating may get you the right answer on a particular exam question, but it won’t teach you how to apply knowledge in the world after school, nor will it give you a foundation of knowledge for learning more advanced material. When you cheat, you cheat yourself out of opportunities.
  • You risk failing the course or even expulsion from school. Each institution has its own definitions of and penalties for academic dishonesty, but most include cheating, plagiarism, and fabrication or falsification. The exact details of what is allowed or not allowed vary somewhat among different colleges and even instructors, so you should be sure to check the TTU Office of Student Conduct and your instructor’s guidelines to see what rules apply. Ignorance of the rules is seldom considered a valid defense.
  • Cheating causes stress. Fear of getting caught will cause you stress and anxiety; this will get in the way of performing well with the information you do know.
  • You’re throwing away your money and time. Getting a college education is a big investment of money and effort. You’re simply not getting your full value when you cheat, because you don’t learn as much.
  • You are trashing your integrity. Cheating once and getting away with it makes it easier to cheat again, and the more you cheat, the more comfortable you will feel with giving up your integrity in other areas of life—with perhaps even more serious consequences.
  • Cheating lowers your self-esteem. If you cheat, you are telling yourself that you are simply not smart enough to handle learning. It also robs you of the feeling of satisfaction from genuine success.

Technology has made it easier to cheat. Your credit card and an Internet connection can procure a paper for you on just about any subject and length. You can copy and paste for free from various websites. Students have made creative use of texting and video on their cell phones to gain unauthorized access to material for exams. But be aware that technology has also created ways for instructors to easily detect these forms of academic dishonesty. Most colleges make these tools available to their instructors. Instructors are also modifying their testing approaches to reduce potential academic misconduct by using methods that are harder to cheat at (such as in-class essays that evaluate your thinking and oral presentations).

If you feel uneasy about doing something in your college work, trust your instincts. Confirm with the instructor that your intended form of research or use of material is acceptable. Cheating just doesn’t pay.

Examples of Dishonesty

Academic dishonesty can take many forms, and you should be careful to avoid them. The following list from Texas Tech University is a clear and complete compilation of what Texas Tech University considers unacceptable academic behavior. Visit the TTU Office of Student Conduct to find out more.

Academic Misconduct. Academic misconduct includes cheating, plagiarism, collusion, falsifying academic records, misrepresenting facts, violations of published professional ethics/standards, and any act or attempted act designed to give unfair academic advantage to oneself or another student. Additional information about academic misconduct is available in the Texas Tech University Community Policies section.

  1. Cheating
    1. Copying from another student’s academic work, test, quiz, or other assignment
    2. Receiving assistance from and/or seeking aid from another student or individual to complete academic work, test, quiz, or other assignment without authority.
    3. The use or possession of materials or devices during academic work, test, quiz or other assignment which are not authorized by the person administering the academic work, test, quiz, or other assignment.
    4. Possessing, using, buying, stealing, transporting, selling or soliciting in whole or in part items including, but not limited to, the contents of an unadministered test, test key, homework solution, or computer program/software. Possession, at any time, of current or previous course materials without the instructor’s permission.
    5. Obtaining by any means, or coercing another person to obtain items including, but not limited to, an unadministered test, test key, homework solution or computer program/software, or information about an unadministered test, test key, homework solution or computer program.
    6. Transmitting or receiving information about the contents of academic work, test, quiz, or other assignment with another individual who has completed or will complete the academic work, test, quiz, or other assignment without authority.
    7. Substituting for another person, or permitting another person to substitute for oneself in order to take a course, take a test, quiz or other assignment or sign in/register attendance.
    8. Taking, keeping, misplacing, damaging or altering the property of the University or of another, if the student knows or reasonably should know that an unfair academic advantage would be gained by such conduct.
    9. Falsifying research data, laboratory reports, and/or other academic work offered for credit.
    10. Failing to comply with instructions given by the person administering the academic work, test, quiz or other assignment.
  2. Plagiarism
    1. The representation of words, ideas, illustrations, structure, computer code, other expression or media of another as one’s own and/or failing to properly cite direct, paraphrased or summarized materials.
    2. Self-plagiarism which involves the submission of the same academic work more than once without the prior permission of the instructor and/or failure to correctly cite previous work written by the same student.
  3. Collusion.
    1. The unauthorized collaboration with another individual to complete academic work, test, quiz, or other assignment, providing unauthorized assistance to another student, allowing another student access to completed academic work, and/or conspiring with another person to commit a violation of academic dishonesty.
  4. Falsifying academic records
    1. Altering or assisting in the altering of any official record of the University and/or submitting false information.
    2. Omitting requested information that is required for, or related to, any official record of the University.
  5. Misrepresenting facts
    1. Providing false grades, falsifying information on a resume, or falsifying other academic information.
    2. Providing false or misleading information in an effort to injure another student academically or financially.
    3. Providing false or misleading information or official documentation in an effort to receive a postponement or an extension on academic work, test, quiz, other assignment, credit for attendance, and/or obtain an academic or financial benefit for oneself or another individual.

NOTE: Examples include, but are not limited to, fabricated, altered, misleading, or falsified documentation for medical excuses family and personal emergencies, and signing into class and failing to remain the entire time.

  1. Violation of Professional Standards.
    1. Any act or attempted act that violates specific Professional Standards or a published Code of Ethics.

NOTE: Students are held accountable under this policy based on their college or school of enrollment, declared major, degree program, and/or pre-professional program.

  1. Unfair Academic Advantage.
    1. Any other action or attempted action that may result in creating an unfair academic advantage for oneself or may result in creating an unfair academic advantage or disadvantage for another student that is not enumerated in items a-f.

Key Takeaways

  • Being dishonest can have major consequences that can affect not only your college career but also your life beyond college.
  • “Everybody does it” and “It’s no big deal at my school” are not valid reasons for cheating.
  • When you cheat, you are primarily cheating yourself.

Checkpoint Exercises

  1. What are the most common forms of academic dishonesty you have heard about at your school? What should be done about them?




  2. What resources do you have on campus to learn about correct forms of referencing other people’s work in your own?





“Texas Tech University Student Handbook, 2021-2022” https://www.depts.ttu.edu/dos/handbook/ (accessed June 30, 2021).



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RaiderReady: Unmasking the Possibilities of College Success Copyright © 2018 by Texas Tech University is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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