Skip to Main Content

Academic Integrity: Cheating


Using or attempting to use unauthorized materials, including but not limited to materials, information, study aids, the work of others, or electronic device-related information, any of which have not been approved by the instructor, as well as unauthorized assistance from third parties including a commercial service or engaging another person (whether paid or unpaid); sharing answers for either a take-home or in-class exams unless specifically and explicitly allowed.

Cheating Scenarios

1 of 5

Your professor has assigned an open book, take-home quiz. The quiz covers chapter reading material. This semester, funds were tight, so you are sharing a book with your roommate who is also taking the class. You decide it will save time if you and your roommate work on the quiz together—after all, the quiz is open book and take-home. Are you cheating?

Maybe. According to the UAB Academic Code of Honor, cheating is the unauthorized use or attempted use of unauthorized resources.  Check with your professor to find out whether you are allow to work in teams. 


2 of 5

You are writing a research paper on the history of public education in the United States. You have cut-and-pasted a lot of information from articles you found online into a Word document. When writing your essay, you find yourself patching together pieces from different sources, and you have occasionally lost track of which ideas were your own and which were from various articles. Since you know you should cite your sources, you guess which quotes came from which articles and cite them as those sources. No one is going to check behind you. You know the quotes are correct and you know the articles they came from, you just don't know which quote goes with which article. Is this wrong to do?

Yes. Misrepresentation is the falsification, alteration, or misstatement of the contents of documents. Since you may be mismatching the citations to the quotes, you are altering and falsifying information. In addition, authors cite information so readers can verify the information they are reading. By altering and falsifying the information, you are preventing your readers from verifying your information.

3 of 5

You have just received your assignment for your introduction to philosophy course and realize that it is similar to an assignment you received in high school. You find the paper that you completed for the high school course and realize that with a few minor tweaks you could re-use this paper for your current assignment. Is this OK to do?

Not without the professor's OK. According to UAB's Honor Code, misrepresentation is presenting work substantially done for one class as work done for another without prior approval from your instructor.  If you want to reuse your high school paper, ask your instructor first if this is acceptable.

4 of 5

Your sister recently graduated. You realize that since you are on same career path, she has more than likely taken the same courses and professors. After a bit of digging, you realize that she has taken the same courses and is more than happy to help you out this semester by giving you her past tests. Is this cheating?

Yes. Cheating includes the unauthorized use of study aids, materials, information, and the work of others. Since you are using your sister's tests to make the semester easier for you, you are cheating.

5 of 5

You have just finished your research paper and you cannot remember where one of your articles originated. You have enough information for an in-text citation but not enough to correctly format the citation in your reference list, so you make it up. Is this an example of a fabrication?

Yes. According to the UAB Academic Honor Code, misrepresentation is falsification, alteration, or the misstatement of the contents of documents, academic work, or other materials related to academic matters.  If you make up information for your reference list, you are falsifying, altering and misstating information. In addition, authors cite information so readers can verify the information they are reading. By altering and falsifying the information, you are preventing your readers from verifying your information.

Discussion Questions

These questions are a great way to discuss cheating. You can review them as a class, or students can work on them in groups.


Your friend is taking the same English literature class you took last year, from the same professor. You looked at the syllabus, and it looks the same as when you took the class. Your friend also works and is debating dropping class because the class times overlap with her work schedule. You tell her not to worry: the professor doesn't require attendance, and you have all the notes and paper assignments from when you took the class. Are you helping your friend commit academic dishonesty?

Some guy you don’t know messaged the class of 2022 GroupMe to ask if anyone would be willing to write his history paper for $50. He didn’t seem to get any takers. You didn’t reply to him or tell anyone about what you saw—you figured it wasn’t your business. Do you have any responsibility for cheating?

Your roommate has a term paper due for psychology in two weeks.  Last year he wrote a philosophy paper for his friend, and he decides to ask her to return the favor by writing his psychology paper.  The night before the paper is due, she hands your roommate the paper, and he submits it.  Later, when your roommate checks Canvas, he finds he has failed the course.  Consequently, he goes to the professor to find out what happened.  The professor states the paper he submitted is an exact copy of a paper a student submitted to the same professor the previous year.  Did your roommate commit academic dishonesty?  Did his friend commit academic dishonesty?  If so, what is this an example of?

You're not a good typist – you know that. Luckily, your father types all the time at his job. He offers to type your paper, and you take him up on it; after all, you created all the content. He gives you the essay after he has typed it and says, "I found some misspelled words and grammatical errors, so I fixed them." Good!  You'll get a better grade since he fixed these for you. Is this abetting? Cheating?

You are in the online version of your psychology course. You realize that your next test will be held online without any sort of moderation. You believe that since the test is meant to be taken at home, you can use your notes and textbooks. You figured that your professor knows her students are using their notes and textbooks on the tests; otherwise, why take the test at home?

You and your lab partner in Chemistry 101 have been asked by your professor to write up the results of your experiments. You soon realize that the results of your experiment are different from the rest of the class' results. Your partner would like to write a lab report on what you actually observed, but, having spoken to other students in the class and deciding that they must be right, you write a report that copies the other students' observations and makes up numbers so that they are "correct." Would this be fabrication?

You log into Canvas and realize that through a glitch in the system, your professor has uploaded and graded a previous assignment of yours rather than the current assignment. Because you did not complete the current assignment, you decide not to say anything and accept the grade that your professor has given you on this “new” paper. Is this cheating?

You have a paper due in both your education and English classes. Your education professor assigns specific topics; however, your English professor allows students to choose their own topic.  You decide to write a paper on the same topic for both classes; however, you will use different references and write different papers. Have you committed academic dishonesty? Why or why not?

© UAB Libraries ι University of Alabama at Birmingham ι About Us ι Contact Us ι Disclaimer