Inside the Classroom

Why does academic honesty matter?

November 04, 2015

Most students receive talks from their instructors or teaching assistants at the beginning of the semester on academic dishonesty. Many students can probably repeat at least the basic rules of what is considered plagiarism or cheating on a test. Yet, instances of cheating are on the rise –
a fact supported by research.

What many students do not consider is why academic dishonesty is wrong. Or, more specifically, students do not realize the long-lasting consequences of committing an offence.

CRIM NEWS met up with Associate Director Sheri Fabian, who is one of the School’s academic integrity advisors, to get the facts on academic dishonesty and why students should care beyond what happens if they get caught.

“Unfortunately, students now see cheating activities as far less problematic, unethical and unacceptable as in the past. We live in a world where we can download illegal music, movies and software, and we don’t think twice about it even though it is technically against the law,” says Fabian.

“My goal is to help students realize the negative impact of fraudulent behaviour on their studies and the academic community. I emphasize to students the ethical implications of academic dishonesty. Students need to examine their own values and evaluate their personal integrity on this issue.”

Valuing honesty is especially pertinent for Criminology students because they are pursuing careers in fields requiring a high level of public trust. Cheating can potentially impact a student’s ability to gain employment in these fields – such as being unable to attain security clearance.

Fabian also stresses the injustice students are doing to themselves when they choose to cheat. Not completing an assignment truthfully results in a missed learning opportunity for students. As well, Fabian states that taking the time to properly cite sources actually strengthens students’ papers and is likely to raise their marks.

“Students choose to cheat for a variety of reasons, one of the most common is poor time management skills. Students procrastinate and then opt to take shortcuts, which can lead to significant consequences when the student is caught. The good news is multiple resources are available for students to help them from getting to that point. If a student is struggling they should feel comfortable approaching someone for advice,” says Fabian.

All students are encouraged to familiarize themselves with SFU’s Academic Honesty and Student Conduct Policies, and to contact their instructors with any questions or concerns.

The Quick Guide to Understanding Academic Dishonesty

Sheri Fabian provided us with brief answers to common questions about academic dishonesty, along with a few tips and resources to help avoid committing an offence.

Why should I care?

  • To ensure equity between students
  • To demonstrate strong moral and ethical character
  • To obtain personal, social, cultural and intellectual development
  • To increase and protect student and faculty morale
  • To cultivate ethical behaviour for future success

How do I avoid committing academic dishonesty?

  • Educate yourself, ask questions and get clarification
  • Be clear on what is acceptable and unacceptable behaviour, especially regarding group work and the use of tutors/editors
  • Listen to the rules provided by the instructor before beginning a test or exam
  • Give yourself with enough time to complete an assignment honestly by practicing good time management skills
  • Avoid submitting to peer pressure, cheating because another student cheats doesn’t make it right

What are some examples of academic dishonesty?

Source: SFU’s Code of Academic Integrity and Good Conduct

  • Repeat submission of an assignment
  • Unauthorized use of computers, calculators and other forms of technology
  • Submitting assignments prepared by someone else
  • Sharing answers with other students
  • Submitting a similar assignment to a study partner
  • Having someone write your exam for you
  • Submitting false written or oral records or information
  • Stealing or destroying the work of another student
  • Unauthorized removal or mutilation of library materials

What are the consequences of getting caught?

Source: SFU’s Code of Academic Integrity and Good Conduct

Depending on the severity of the of the offence, a student may receive the following discipline:

  • Receive a warning or formal reprimand
  • Be required to redo the work or do supplementary work
  • Be assigned a low grade for the work
  • Receive a grade of “F” for the work
  • Receive a grade less severe than “FD” (failed – academic dishonesty) for the course, including a grade of “F”
  • Be given a grade of “FD” (failed – academic dishonesty) for the course

Additional Resources