Chapter 6: Learning & Studying

Academic Honesty


How many ways are there to cheat?

Form a small group and brainstorm as many ways as you can think of to cheat. Once you have exhausted your ideas as a group, compare your ideas with the lists below. Be ready to share with the class how your list compared to what is in the textbook.

Consider the impact of cheating on:

  • you
  • MCC
  • our community
I would prefer even to fail with honor than to win by cheating. —Sophocles

Academic Honesty and 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, not cheating, and not presenting the work of others as your own.

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


Deception is providing false information to an instructor concerning an academic assignment. Examples of 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. This includes 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 make false claims about the research performed.

MCC’s Definitions of Cheating and Plagiarism

MCC has a clear and complete compilation of what is considered academic dishonesty and unacceptable academic behavior. The following are MCC’s definitions on cheating and plagiarism, examples of academic dishonesty, and a link to the complete Academic Honesty portion of the MCC College Catalog and Student Handbook.

1.8.1 Definition (2011)

Cheating is defined as the unauthorized use or exchange of information by students or others for the purpose of achieving an unfair advantage in the classroom or assessment process.

Plagiarism is using someone else’s work as if it were one’s own, whether or not it is done intentionally. This includes, but is not limited to: using the exact language, using nearly the exact language, and using ideas without showing they originated in another’s work. The work taken from another person or source (including publications, web sites, speeches, etc.) may be as little as an isolated formula, portions of a speech, a simple sentence, an idea, or as much as entire paragraphs, papers, or writings of professionals or other students; however, well-known, common knowledge is generally an exception. Omitting quotation marks when using language copied from another’s work, failing to use citations for ideas or language taken from other authors, or failing to use one’s own style of writing when summarizing and paraphrasing someone else’s work constitute plagiarism. Any form of plagiarism is essentially an act of cheating. Specific concerns should be directed to your professor.

The academic honesty policy pertains to all instructional delivery methods offered at the College, including but not limited to classroom and online instruction, and self-study.

Some examples of academic dishonesty include but are not limited to the following:

  • Taking an exam for another student.
  • Having another student take an exam for you.
  • Paying someone to write a paper to submit as your own work.
  • Writing a paper for another student.
  • Submitting the same paper for grading in two different courses without permission.
  • Arranging with other students to give or receive answers by use of signals.
  • Arranging to sit next to someone who will let you copy from his or her exam.
  • Copying from someone’s exam.
  • Allowing another student to copy from you during an exam.
  • Obtaining answers, information, translations, or material from a source (e.g., the Internet) without appropriate citation.
  • Getting questions or answers from someone who has already taken the same exam.
  • Working on homework with other students when the instructor does not allow it.
  • “Padding”—adding items on a works cited page that were not used.
  • Unauthorized use of information stored in the memory of an electronic device (e.g., programmable calculators and cell phones) on a test or assignment. No information stored in any electronic devices may be used without explicit permission.
  • Altering or forging an official document.

Academic Honesty portion of MCC’s College Catalog and Handbook

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 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 that did.

The easiest way to make sure you don’t accidentally plagiarize someone else’s work is by taking careful notes as you do research. If you are doing research on the web, be sure to copy and paste the links into your notes so 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 the 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 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. Stop by the tutoring center or library for help. If you are an online student, check out the Library’s resources online for research help. 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.

Consequences of Academic Dishonesty

In the academic world, plagiarism by students is usually considered a very serious offense that can result in punishments such as a failing grade on a particular assignment or the entire course or even being expelled from the institution. 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 information sheet.

Cheating of any sort causes stress because of the worry of being caught and because those students don’t really know the necessary information. It also lowers self-esteem. Students who cheat are telling themselves that they are simply not smart enough to handle learning, which is almost always not the case. Students who cheat are robbing themselves of the feeling of satisfaction that comes from genuine success.

Academic honesty research

  1. Describe three different actions that would violate your college’s academic honesty policy.
  2. Check out Indiana University’s list of 15 patterns of plagiarism with examples. The names used for different types of plagiarism can help you learn how to avoid situations of academic dishonesty. Jot down a few notes on examples that are new to you.
  3. Find information about plagiarism in one of your courses. You may find information on the course syllabus and/or the course website. You may want to bookmark this information or make a note to yourself. Knowing your rights as a student may help if there is a misunderstanding.


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