Dishonesty in Academic Work

There are many ways in which academic work might be considered dishonest – some are obvious while others are much more nuanced and open to discussion. It is your responsibility to understand what constitutes a violation of the expectations of trust and honesty in any given class. Below is an overview of what is considered to be academic dishonesty, but should you have any questions or concerns regarding your work in a particular class, it is vital that you clarify them with the instructor of record.


Plagiarism is the unacknowledged use of the work of others. It comes from the Latin word plagiarius, meaning ‘kidnapper’.

Submitting work that does not acknowledge the complexity of influences and sources that contributed to your original synthesis and argumentation

  • Denies readers the opportunity to fully engage with your work and appreciate your mastery of the materials you consulted.
  • Diminishes the impact your work can contribute to, and undermines the ongoing conversation that is represented in, a body of scholarly work.
  • Steals the intellectual property of other scholars.

Forms of Plagiarism

  • Verbatim copying without acknowledgement – copying a whole paragraph or larger sections; in effect, claiming that the writing is your own.
  • Copying select phrases without acknowledgement – using your own words to pad the selectively copied words of others.
  • Paraphrasing text without acknowledgement – rewriting text in your own words, but using the idea or argument as your own.
  • Using data gathered by another, claiming it as your own – even if you submit an analysis of the data that is yours alone.

Avoiding Plagiarism: Acknowledging Sources

Fully acknowledging your sources not only avoids plagiarism but also enables you to:

  • distinguish your original ideas while demonstrating your understanding of the existing literature;
  • support your ideas and show how your work connects to and continues the work that has gone before;
  • lay claim to credibility and authority for your work and your place in the intellectual community;
  • enable your readers to understand more about your interpretation of the sources;
  • enable your readers to learn more by consulting your sources.

For further guidance, Jeremiah Mercurio, the Humanities Librarian in Butler Library, can help you understand copyright issues and explain terms like plagiarism, intellectual property, open access and fair use. In addition, for online help, with additional hours, you can Ask a Librarian.


Examinations and tests enable an instructor to assess your mastery of the subject matter under the same conditions under which other students in the class will also be assessed. By cheating in examinations or tests you not only fail yourself by denying yourself the opportunity to demonstrate your understanding, you also fail your peers by undermining their attempts to do so.

Cheating in examinations and tests includes:

  • Obtaining the questions in advance of the exam or test.
  • Providing the questions to other students in advance of the exam or test.
  • Taking, or trying to take, an exam for someone else.
  • Allowing someone to take an exam in your stead.
  • Claiming to have submitted your exam paper when this is not the case
  • Taking unauthorized notes or study aids into the examination or test
  • Referring to notes, study aids, or other texts in the bathroom during an examination or test.
  • Using your cell phone or other devices to store or receive information and referring to this information in the examination or test.
  • Conferring with classmates during the examination or test, whether in the classroom or in a take-home exam.
  • Looking at the work of classmates during the examination or test.
  • Allowing a classmate to look at your work.



Fabrication is a form of lying that renders any work untrustworthy. It is therefore not permissible to:

  • Submit a paper for one class that you wrote for a different class
  • Submit fabricated laboratory data or results
  • Rely on others’ laboratory data or results, without the instructor’s explicit permission to do so
  • Cite a source that has not actually been read or consulted
  • Claim to have fully contributed to a group project when you have not
  • Pay someone to write a paper for you
  • Allow someone else to write a paper for you
  • Purchase a pre-written paper
  • Write a paper for someone else, regardless of payment


Unauthorized Sources of Assistance

All the work you submit is expected to provide instructors the opportunity to understand your grasp of the material, in the case of work submitted throughout the term, and your mastery of the subject, in the case of final papers and exams. For this fundamental faculty-student relationship to be successful, the work must be yours alone. It is therefore not permissible to:

  • Collaborate with classmates on homeworks, out-of-class projects, and other assignments without the instructor’s explicit permission to do so. If the boundaries of acceptable engagement and unacceptable collaboration are not clear to you, you must take responsibility to confirm your instructors’ expectations. If in doubt, err on the side of caution.
  • Receive inappropriate assistance in writing your papers from friends or family members outside of Columbia. For example, perhaps a sibling or a friend from home has written a paper at another college on the same topic. While it is acceptable to discuss the topic, it is not acceptable to use the paper, in whole or in part, without proper acknowledgement or to copy the bibliography without reading the texts. Again, if you are unsure check with your instructor and err on the side of caution.


Assisting Others in Committing an Act of Academic Dishonesty

You are responsible for ensuring not only that your work is trustworthy but also that your actions are trustworthy. This means that you must not help other students commit dishonest actions. It is therefore not permissible to:

  • Allow another student to copy any or all of your work
  • Allow another student to claim s/he has fully contributed to a group project when this is not the case
  • Assist another student in stealing or otherwise accessing unauthorized information about a test or examination
  • Assist another student in accessing and/or copying the work of a third party


Other Forms of Academic Dishonesty

All your actions are expected to be trustworthy. It is therefore not permissible to:

  • Misrepresent yourself or your circumstances (or that of your family, friends, or computer) – for example, in explaining an absence from class or a late piece of work;
  • Lie to an instructor or administrator;
  • Hide, write on or otherwise damage, or steal a library book;
  • Forge the signature of an instructor or administrator on College or University forms and documents;
  • Forge the medical statement and/or signature of a doctor to, for example, excuse absences or late work.

Academic Integrity


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