Academic Honesty

Many students in the U.S. get into trouble for what is called "cheating" or "plagiarism." "Cheating" means getting help that a student is not supposed to get on an assignment, quiz, or examination. "Plagiarism" refers specifically to the practice of copying from a book or other publication and not acknowledging that the words used are someone else's, and not your own. Plagiarism is considered a kind of lying (because you are claiming you wrote something you did not actually write) and a kind of theft (because you are taking someone else’s “intellectual property” without saying you did so).

What Is Considered "Cheating"?

In general, students in the U.S. academic system are expected to do their own academic work without getting excessive assistance from other people. This does not mean that you cannot ask other students to help with class work. It is permissible and sometimes even advisable to seek help in understanding what is happening in a class and what a specific assignment is about. It is not considered proper, though, to have someone else do an assignment for you, or to copy answers or information from a publication in a way that makes it appear that the answers are ones you devised and composed yourself. That would be considered cheating.

Here are some other things that are considered cheating:

  • Copying other students' assignments
  • Copying other students' answers to examination questions
  • Allowing another person to copy your answers to examination questions
  • Taking notes or books to an examination and secretly referring to them for assistance while answering examination questions.
  • Misrepresenting your contribution to a group project
  • Collaborating with others on a take-home examination when instructed not to do so

What Is Considered "Plagiarism"?

According to the University of Iowa Academic Policies, all forms of plagiarism are considered academic fraud. This includes, but it not limited to:

  • Presentation of ideas from sources that you do not credit;
  • Use of direct quotations without quotation marks and/or without credit to the source;
  • Paraphrasing information and ideas from resources without credit to the source;
  • Failure to provide adequate citations for material obtained through electronic research;
  • Downloading and submitting work from electronic databases without citation;
  • Participation in a group project which presents plagiarized materials;
  • Taking credit as part of a group without participating as required in the work of group;
  • Submitting material created/written by someone else as one’s own, including purchased term/research papers, artistic works, photography, and electronic media. You should also note that this list is not all inclusive. Plagiarism occurs whenever someone else’s work or idea is presented as your own.

Possible Consequences of Cheating or Plagiarism

Some students cheat and are not punished for it, either because the cheating is not detected or because the faculty member in whose class the cheating takes place prefers not to take any action against the student. In most cases, though, cheating and plagiarism are detected and have negative consequences for the student. These consequences might be:

  • A failing grade for the assignment or examination on which the cheating took place;
  • A failing grade for the course in which the cheating or plagiarism occurred;
  • Expulsion from the course; 
  • Expulsion from the University.

Here are the code of Academic Honesty from different colleges: