Types of Academic Misconduct

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You have likely heard common terms for actions that violate academic integrity policies or those called academic misconduct; plagiarism and cheating probably come to mind first. In this skill, you will contrast qualities of coursework created and developed with academic integrity with actions that are usually or always considered to be prohibited academic misconduct.

To consider types of misconduct, you will think about three important areas: (1) Ownership—where work comes from and whose work it is considered to be, (2) Use—how work is used once it is created, and (3) Representation—what you say about the work, that is, how the work is represented.

Every university outlines the specific types of misconduct that are prohibited according to the university’s policy and they address different types of disregard for the six fundamental values of academic integrity outlined in the What Is Academic Integrity? skill. Examples of types of misconduct that are in most academic integrity policies include plagiarism (presenting another’s work as one’s own), collusion (unauthorized collaboration), self-plagiarism or unauthorized reuse of prior work, cheating (giving or receiving unauthorized assistance on an assessment), misrepresentation/fraud/fabrication (using false or fictional information and/or resources or lying), sabotage (destroying another’s work), or misuse of university materials. Various behaviors may fall under one or more of these areas.

Some actions that lead to a charge of academic misconduct have been done without a student intending to violate a policy and other actions show more intentional efforts to gain an unfair advantage. Most university policies are based on prohibited actions, whether intended or not. This makes it all the more important to understand the difference between permitted and unauthorized actions and to stay aware of one’s practices that lead to coursework submissions. That is, to create coursework with regard for application of six fundamental values of academic integrity: honesty, trust, fairness, respect, responsibility, and courage.

Recommended Readings and Resources

Plagiarism.org provides extensive information and resources about preventing the most common type of academic misconduct.

Fair Use Standards explain how digital media can and cannot be used fairly. https://www.creativefuture.org/why-this-matters/fairuse/

Purdue Online Writing Laboratory (OWL) answers students’ Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Plagiarism. https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/avoiding_plagiarism/plagiarism_faq.html

Cavaliere and others published a book that presents case studies of academic misconduct from around the world.

Cavaliere, P., De Souza, D., Fenton, A. L., Giridharan, B., Gralla, C., Inshakova, N., Lee, B., Leichsenring, A., Marchant, J., Saba‘Ayon, N., Saito, M., Hanbidge, A. S., Selke, R., Streich, P., Ti, T., Toom, A., Tsang, H., Velasco, D., Yamamoto, Y., & Zaharuk, G. (2020). Academic misconduct and plagiarism: Case studies from universities around the world. Lexington Books.

The Academic Integrity Council of Ontario shares strategies for avoiding contract cheating. https://academicintegritycouncilofontario.files.wordpress.com/2020/10/student-tip-sheet-avoiding-contract-cheating-1.pdf