A-Z Index

Academic Dishonesty

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This document represents the position of the School of Health Science and Wellness at Northwest Missouri State University on the subject of academic integrity. This document is consistent with the University's overall procedures and penalties for academic honesty, which state, in part, that "it is the responsibility of every student to avoid dishonest practices" (Undergraduate Catalogue, page nos. depend on year of catalogue). Therefore, before you submit written work or complete other forms of assessment, you should take the time to understand what academic dishonesty is and how to avoid it. By signing this document, you acknowledge that you have read and understand both the School's statement on academic honesty (i.e., this document) and the University's statement and policy on academic dishonesty (Undergraduate Catalogue). You also agree to abide by these guidelines and to personally take responsibility in all Psychology courses, to learn, understand, and use APA format when citing your sources, and/or to personally take responsibility in Sociology courses to learn, understand, and use the format required by your instructor.

This document is based on information from The George Washington University, the Department of Mathematics, Computer Science and Information Systems (Northwest Missouri State University), and (retrieved November 18, 2003).

What constitutes academic dishonesty?

Academic dishonesty can occur in many forms. According to the University's policy on academic dishonesty:

There are eight broad areas of academic dishonesty: (1) obtaining unauthorized aid or information; (2) giving unauthorized aid or information; (3) committing plagiarism from written, electronic, or Internet sources; (4) misrepresenting facts or data; (5) offering bribes; (6) using library resources unethically; (7) using computer resources unethically; and (8) knowingly assisting in any of the above practices. (Undergraduate Catalogue).

Academic dishonesty, therefore, includes but is not limited to:

  • Lying or cheating of any kind.
  • Receiving from any source -- without express permission from the instructor -- answers to or information related to any academic assignment (e.g., papers, examinations, lab reports, etc.) This may include but is not limited to
    • Working on an assignment with anyone else unless you receive express permission from your instructor that you may work with others.
    • Receiving or using copies of tests or other assignments from any source unless instructed to do so by your instructor.
    • Submitting the same paper in more than one class (whether submitted in concurrent or different semesters) without the written permission of both instructors.
  • Giving answers to others on individual homework assignments or tests (see #1 above). Anytime you share your work or any "unauthorized aid or information" with anyone else to review and/or copy you have cheated--even if you have done all your own work!
  • Plagiarism. You plagiarize anytime you steal or represent someone else's work/ideas/words as your own. This can occur intentionally (e.g., when you put your name on a paper that was created by someone else) or unintentionally (e.g., when you fail to cite the source(s) for your information). According to, plagiarism includes but is not limited to:
    • use of information from any source without crediting the source;
    • presenting as new and original an idea or product derived from an existing source;
    • turning in someone else's work as your own;
    • failing to put a quotation in quotation marks and failing to cite your sources;
    • giving incorrect information about the source of a quotation;
    • paraphrasing words or ideas from someone else without citing your sources;
    • changing words but copying the sentence structure of a source without giving credit;
    • copy or paraphrase so many words or ideas from a source that it makes up the majority of your work, whether you give credit or not.

      You must use the rules delineated in the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (5th Edition) for crediting sources in any work you do unless otherwise stipulated by your instructor. This includes any academic assignment (e.g., class papers, discussion questions posted on the Internet/Northwest Online, powerpoint presentations, audiotape/videotape presentations, etc.). You are responsible for crediting your sources by obtaining and applying current APA guidelines. You can find abbreviated tutorials for referencing help at the Owens Library website and at
  • Intentionally fabricating or using unauthorized data in any academic exercise.

Academic integrity is important to me. How can I avoid academic dishonesty?

When do I need to cite my sources?

One of the reasons for citing your sources is to clearly distinguish your words and ideas from those of your source(s) ( Therefore, whenever you incorporate the words or ideas of others into your work -- whether you paraphrase or quote/copy -- you must cite your source(s) for that information.

If I copy, word for word, information from any printed or electronic sources, how do I credit the source?

You must indicate work that is copied word for word by enclosing the text within quotation marks AND citing the source (with page or paragraph number) in the text of the assignment. You also must include the complete source information on an APA formatted reference page. (See the Publication Manual of the APA). NOTE this includes information from your textbook, lectures, handouts, etc., In other words, if you fail to indicate you copied word for word from ANY source, then you have stolen that information.

If I use information from printed or electronic sources but do not copy word for word, do I still have to credit the source?

Yes. It is just as important to credit information that you have paraphrased or modified as it is to credit direct quotes. Generally, if you copy three or more words from the original source then you must include the information in quotation marks and cite appropriately. You must give credit even if you have completely rewritten the text. Failure to do so is plagiarism. The reader of your work should be able to discern what ideas are yours and what ideas come from other sources. Your instructor will not consider lack of knowledge of APA formatting and guidelines a valid defense against charges of plagiarism. Academic honesty is the responsibility of all students, so it is your responsibility to learn and use APA style. If you are unsure about citing your sources, then seek help before you complete any academic assignment. Plagiarism is a serious infraction and is subject to the penalties described in the Undergraduate Catalogue.

How do I properly credit help received on an assignment, lab, project or paper?

If your instructor has explicitly, and in writing, given you permission to work with others, you may give credit at the beginning of the document on the cover page preceding any document text (for written documents) or, for overheads or powerpoint presentations you can give credit for help on the first slide/title page of your presentation. For example:

  • I wish to thank Joe Smith and Mary Jones, classmates, for their assistance on this project.
  • I wish to thank Mary Brown, instructor, for help with the design for methodology in this research project.
  • I wish to acknowledge help from Jose Autoro on the development of ideas for this paper.

What about exams? What constitutes cheating on an exam?

Cheating on an exam includes, but is not limited to:

  • taking answers from another student's exam or paper or allowing another student to take answers from your exam or paper
  • talking to other students during a test
  • keeping your files/documents/scantrons unsecured during a test so that they can be viewed by others
  • using notes or other materials not allowed or approved by the instructor
  • collaboration on a take-home or online exam unless the collaboration is approved by the instructor
  • allowing another student to take a take-home or on-line exam for you and representing the work on the exam as your own
  • copying materials from a computer file (or any other source) during an exam when the instructor has not designated the use of that source
  • altering or destroying files or evidence of cheating

What happens to me if I am suspected of an act of academic dishonesty?

This school will follow the procedures detailed in the Policies and Procedures section of the most current university catalog. Read the university policy very carefully! It is the policy of this school to file a report with the Provost or graduate school for every act of academic dishonesty, whether your instructor fails you on an assignment or fails you in the class.