What is Academic Misconduct?

Academic misconduct covers more than just plagiarism.

Flickr user thecrazyfilmgirl

Some people hear the term “academic misconduct” and instantly think of plagiarism. But the truth is, the concept is much wider than just that. We are committing academic misconduct by doing things like cheating on homework, damaging the school’s property, or altering university documents.


Plagiarism is taking someone else’s ideas and making them look like your own. By using the words someone else said or wrote in a paper and not giving them the credit we are plagiarizing another writer. Plagiarism is one of the most common (and worse) ways of academic misconduct. That is why most people think about it when they hear the term. It can lead to a damaged school record and reputation, suspension and even expulsion.


Let’s say you have to take a test at a class with other 200 students. If a friend of yours, who already took the class and got a good grade in it, goes in and takes the test for you the professor won’t realize because the class is so large, right? You’ll get a good grade without even trying. Wrong. Impersonating not only affects the person impersonated (which would be you), but also the impersonator (your friend). It is a form of cheating, also affects your student record and may lead to expulsion. Plus, many universities now require you to present your student ID upon turning in a test or turning in a test to the TA you have a discussion section with.


It is defined as fraud or dishonesty in an academic assignment. You can cheat on homework, papers, and tests by getting them from the internet, using someone else’s ideas, or by copying information from the book. Letting someone else copy your exam and pre-programming a calculator to give you unauthorized answers during the test are also ways of cheating. Don’t do it.

Fabrication of Information

If you are writing a paper in which you must use some type of data, but you can’t find a specific percentage of certain needed values, just making one up is considered to be academic misconduct. Either creating fake information or altering it in order to make it usable for a study is a punishable offense.

Damage / Theft of Property

Stealing someone else’s books, notes, projects, or properties—such as laptops or tablets—is academic misconduct. Getting a copy of an exam that’s not due for another couple of days is theft and can lead to getting kicked out of the class (or school) and a damaged school record.

Misconduct in the Classroom

If you, in some form, affect the smooth development of the class by any reason—like making comments that aren’t related to the topic, playing music, talking to classmates during the whole period or class, or don’t follow the professor’s instruction—then you are having a wrong attitude in class. The professor can accuse you of misconduct. They can even prohibit you to get into the classroom again during the semester

Alteration of University Documents

In order to get accepted into a university, college or high school, one must fill in an application and send the required documentation. If you forge a professor’s signature, send in a fake letter recommendation or alter your grades transcript you are committing academic misconduct. The school then decides if they let you send the (real) transcripts again or if your application is instantly denied.

To make a long story short: don’t do any of the things on the list. Even if you’re struggling with a grade, it’s never worth risking your entire education and reputation as a student for a few extra points. Dig deep, work hard, study smart, and the results will show.

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