Academic Integrity & Academic Dishonesty – Definition & Importance

18.03.23 Plagiarism overview Time to read: 3min

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Higher education institutions have a responsibility to foster an atmosphere favorable to study. However, there has been a recent uptick in media coverage of academic dishonesty, which is concerning since it threatens the credibility of universities and colleges.1

Because of academic misconduct, scholars and institutions remain under immense pressure to manage this process, which is already severely compromised effectively.

Academic Integrity & Academic Dishonesty – In a Nutshell

  • Honesty, trustworthiness, fairness, respect, responsibility, and bravery are the six pillars upon which ICAI bases its definition of academic integrity.
  • The main motives for academic misconduct include adverse peer influence and fear of making a mistake onstage.
  • Ensure you understand your role in a team, study group, or joint research endeavor.
  • Students should properly and regularly reference the work of others in their academic writing to demonstrate appreciation.

Definition: Academic integrity & academic dishonesty

Academic integrity is when there is mutual trust between professors, students, researchers, and other members of the academic community.2 When people study together, they form a community of learners. If your actions compromise the credibility of your class or university, it might have long-term consequences for your professional standing.

On the other hand, all members of the academic community, not only students, are responsible for upholding a zero-tolerance policy against academic misconduct, which includes engaging in or aiding in dishonest conduct connected to teaching, studying research, and other educational work.

The 7 types of academic integrity & academic dishonesty

A variety of student actions may cause academic misconduct.

Type of academic dishonesty Definition Example
1. Collusion Collusion occurs when one or more students work together dishonestly on a graded assignment. That is not the same as the group projects your instructors have you do. When you collaborate with a buddy or group of friends on an essay or report, that should be done alone.
2. Cheating Cheating occurs when a student falsely claims or attempts to assert mastery of material on an academic exercise when they do not have such understanding. Cheating on a test by copying someone else's work.
3. Plagiarism Plagiarism is the submission of someone else's content without proper attribution. It makes no difference if you do it knowingly or unintentionally, whether you alter the terms to make them your own or if you copy and paste them. Not giving credit where credit is due, including when you borrow someone else's ideas or thoughts.
4. Fabrication Fabrication creates data for scientific evaluations, such as testing or interview results. Forging references to make up false or nonexistent publications is another fabrication.
5. Recycling Recycling is turning in an assignment that has already been graded for a second time without your instructor's consent. Including a report for which you received credit in a first-year course as part of your assignment for a third-year class. You should consult your instructor before attempting to expand upon past assignments!
6. Contract cheating Contract cheating entails having another person do all or a significant portion of your job and then passing it off as your own. Letting someone else do your essay, report, or other projects on your behalf and exam-taking whereby someone else takes your test for you. Ghost-writing, whereby you have someone else do your academic paper.
7. Sabotage Assaulting another person's work in such a way that they cannot finish an assignment or project is an act of sabotage. Ruining someone else's art, experiment, or design or failing to participate in a collaborative project as expected.

Academic dishonesty: Mild, moderate, and severe

There are three levels of academic dishonesty:

Mild academic misconduct

  • Cooperating with others to complete a school task
  • Plagiarism is when you use a source in a paper you did not read

Moderate academic misconduct

  • Copying on a surprise test
  • Cheating on a take-home test that was intended to be closed-book by looking at your notes

Severe academic misconduct

  • Making up a family situation to avoid taking a final
  • Participating in an exam for a mutual friend

The principles of academic integrity

The foundations of quality academic work are:3

  1. Integrity
  2. Fairness
  3. Kindness
  4. Reverence
  5. Accountability
  6. You feel compelled to give credit where credit is due when something novel or ground-breaking is discovered
  7. There are many hands at work creating knowledge, and we value and appreciate them


When doing schoolwork, it is important to do it with honesty, ethics, and completeness.

Academic honesty requires that you tell the truth in your study and avoid dishonest practices like plagiarism.

Academic dishonesty is the act of fraud or misrepresentation committed while enrolled in an educational institution. Intended or unintended, the consequences of academic misconduct are the same.

Do not modify your or anybody else’s grades, health forms, or other records.

Respecting and honoring the work of others is essential to maintaining academic integrity, which in turn empowers students and faculty to generate original ideas, information, and creative works.


1 The State University of New Jersey. “Academic Dishonesty: Definitions, Offenses, and Sanctions.” Rutgers. Accessed March 13, 2023.

2 Academic Integrity Tutorials. “Academic Dishonesty Definition and Types.” Northern Illinois University. Accessed March 13. 2023.

3 Skshidlevsky, Anton. “What Is Academic Dishonesty?” ProctorEdu. June 04, 2022.