Home / Academic Integrity / Violations



Cheating involves any form of academic deceit and, with technology changing every day, new methods of dishonesty keep emerging. Refer to the Provost's webpage on Student Obligations to Academic Integrity for a laundry list of situations that constitute academic dishonesty.

Too much co-dependency in academic work can lead to violations of academic integrity. For example you may not:

  • Act as or use a substitute
  • Provide aid or use the aid of others
  • Use the work of others or provide your work to others
  • Sign or have others sign for you
  • Hire someone to do your work

When you share work, you share the sanctions as well.

Misrepresenting your effort, time or work
Overstating or misrepresenting the effort or time spent in a course, lab, internship, externship, clinical activity, field experience or other required activity crosses the line into academic deceit.

Claiming something as yours that is not
This forms the basis of all academic deceit. With the advancement of technology it is easy to find the answers to homework, case problems, images, music, etc., that fulfill academic requirements. You may think you are only using this information to help you figure out your assignment, but if you do not make attribution to the sources you used, you have violated standards.

In creative activities, when does your use of someone’s images, movements or music become a transformative original piece versus a misappropriation and violation of intellectual property? Talk with your faculty if you’re uncertain.

Putting words into the mouths’ of others
Changing or influencing the words, records, letters or grades of others to your benefit is clearly deceit.


Defining plagiarism
Acts of plagiarism can be glaringly obvious or very subtle. Understanding plagiarism, with all of its intricacies and nuances, provides a foundation of knowledge one can use to make sound decisions and avoid getting caught up in a plagiarism scandal—whether intentional or unintentional.

The Council of Writing Program Administrators provides a guide on Defining and Avoiding Plagiarism: The WPA Statement on Best Practices.

What misdeeds lurk in your academic work
Lapses in one's technique for paraphrasing ideas, quoting information or citing sources can make way for accusations of plagiarism. Make it a point to learn how to integrate the ideas of others and to document the sources of “borrowed” information appropriately. View citation styles.

Avoiding unintentional plagiarism
Keeping track of the deluge of notes and source material can become a mind-boggling undertaking, and mistakes can lead to unintentional plagiarism. Learn about web-based tools such as RefWorks Bibliographic Management Software. As a TA, you can request a RefWorks session for your class or invite a librarian to speak to your class.

Data fabrication and manipulation

How creative can you be in manipulating your data, images or art and still be considered original vs. accused of stealing someone’s work?

Can you delete data or samples that do not fit your hypotheses?
If you delete outliers, you need to follow the standards of your profession. If you do so, indicate it in the methods section. Check a research methods text or ask your professor if you’re uncertain.

An image is worth a thousand words
Does this image represent your data? Don’t over or under-expose images or otherwise alter them to make them support the results you want.

Data fabrication
It seems that every week you read about a scientific study that is retracted because the researcher made up data. Often this comes out after years of experiments in which others have tried to replicate the results but could not. The consequences for these researchers are often very severe.

Making up quotes or interview results
It may seem harmless to sprinkle your paper with quotes from fictional sources to bolster your argument or to interview a few family members to round out your data set, but this clearly violates standards of integrity.

A little too much help from your friends

When is collaboration no longer acceptable?
It may or may not be acceptable to split up the work with other students and then combine it to form the sections of the final report. Ask your professor to be sure.

If a member of your team plagiarizes his/her part of the paper or research, you may be held accountable. Your name is on the final report, and the whole team can suffer the consequences of a faulty team member. (Sadly, this has happened on NSF grant applications and the consequences are severe for all listed on the grant.)

The slippery slope of collaboration
It starts with the best of intentions — you study with your graduate student cohort. Then someone suggests it would just be easier if you split up the readings or divide up the assigned problem sets. Before you realize it, you are turning in work that others have done.

How do you say no to the people you care about?
The toughest challenge you may face is telling your closest friend, future research partner, or potential love interest that you are uncomfortable sharing your work with them. Don’t let personal relationships derail you from achieving your career dreams.

When you can and can’t work with others
This guide defines collaboration and offers some ground rules.

Online course issues

Students and faculty often have different ideas about collaboration versus independent work in online courses.

If your instructor does not explicitly prohibit a behavior, then it is okay?
No. Instructors for online courses often assume that students know what behaviors violate academic integrity and constitute independent work. Assume that most behaviors banned in a classroom situation would also be banned for an online course. When in doubt, contact the instructor with your questions.

Open book? Only if the instructor says it is okay. Sharing and exchanging quiz or final exam answers? Not allowed. Collaboration with others? Ask the instructor if this is fair game.

Two-headed students
If you were in a classroom, you wouldn’t be sitting side-by-side and working on assignments, so this is not acceptable for an online course either. Similarly, you could not use a cell phone while taking an in-class exam, so this would be unacceptable in an online class as well.

Taking an online exam for another student
You “aced” the course in person and your work colleague wants you to take the online exam for him. He helps you out on a lot of work projects, and besides, he knows the material, but is just too busy to take the exam. Do not do it. This is a clear violation of ASU policy.

Using others’ ideas as your own discussion board comments
Posing the instructors’ questions to your friends may make for scintillating conversation, but using their remarks as your own on an online discussion board violates standards of independent work. Will you get caught? Maybe not, but you are shortchanging your ability to learn to think critically.

Stealing from yourself – self-plagiarism

Quoting words or borrowing ideas without reference to the author is a problem, even if you happen to be the author.

Same story – different outlets
Can you:

  • submit the same paper for different classes?
  • use sections of your previous work for a comp exam answer?
  • expand on your master’s thesis for your dissertation?
  • submit the same research article to different journals?

No to all of the above. Learn more about the complicated issue of self-plagiarism. Talk to your faculty about what this means in your profession.

Recycling is not always good
Not when it comes to your own words. Many researchers use the same literature, research methods or analyses across studies and find it time consuming to write new versions of these sections. Yet blind journal reviewers or electronic cross-checking may indicate you are plagiarizing. Take the time to rephrase and remember you need to cite yourself.

Avoid salami-slicing
Or publishing multiple studies from the same data set. You may need to reduce a complex set of distinct hypotheses into separate papers. If so, let the readers know you did this. If the slices can be combined to make a whole, then it is better to go with the whole salami. To learn more about the nuances of “salami-slicing” in your discipline just pop this term into Google scholar and it will open your eyes.

Shed light on the shadows of self-plagiarism
Learn more about this grey area. Two good sources are:

  1. Bretag, T. & Mahmud, S. (2009). Self-Plagiarism or Appropriate Textual Re-use? Journal of Academic Ethics, 7:193–205 http://www.springerlink.com.ezproxy1.lib.asu.edu/content/256280445158v940/
  2. Scanlon, P. M. (2007). Song From Myself: An Anatomy of Self-Plagiarism. vol. II. Ann Arbor, MI: Scholarly Publishing Office, University of Michigan Library http://hdl.handle.net/2027/spo.5240451.0002.007 retrieved July 2010