Deterring and Detecting Academic Dishonesty: Suggestions for Faculty


Purdue prohibits "dishonesty in connection with any University activity. Cheating, plagiarism, or knowingly furnishing false information to the University are examples of dishonesty." Furthermore, the University Senate has stipulated that

"the commitment of acts of cheating, lying, and deceit in any of their diverse forms (such as the use of ghost-written papers, the use of substitutes for taking examinations, the use of illegal cribs, plagiarism, and copying during examinations) is dishonest and must not be tolerated. Moreover, knowingly to aid and abet, directly or indirectly, other parties in committing dishonest acts is in itself dishonest." (See Student Regulations, Section B.2.a.)

The following are a few examples of academic dishonesty:

  • substituting on an exam for another student
  • substituting in a course for another student
  • obtaining a paper from the Internet and submitting it as one's own work
  • arranging to give or receive answers by use of signals during an exam
  • copying with or without the other person's knowledge during an exam
  • doing class assignments for someone else
  • plagiarizing published material or class assignments
  • padding items on a bibliography
  • obtaining a copy of a test in advance of its scheduled administration
  • using unauthorized notes during an exam
  • collaborating with other students on assignments when it is not allowed
  • obtaining a test from the exam site, completing and submitting it later
  • altering answers on a scored test and submitting it for a regrade
  • stealing class assignments and submitting them as one's own, particularly computer programs
  • fabricating data
  • destroying or stealing the work of other students


It is more common for students than instructors to be aware of academic dishonesty. Thus, it is important early in the semester to address academic dishonesty with students to avoid conveying the message that the risks of academic dishonesty are minimal, thereby offering temptation. Some suggestions provided below for deterring and detecting academic dishonesty may be neither practical nor applicable to certain types of courses and teaching practices. However, it is recommended that you consider incorporating any suggestions that are reasonable and appropriate for the type of course(s) you teach. While some of the suggestions seem obvious, they are often overlooked.

  • An effective way to discourage academic dishonesty is to promote academic integrity. The course syllabus and a short discussion are the most effective tools for creating a classroom atmosphere in which honesty is clearly the expected standard. You should address the consequences for academic dishonesty. This serves several purposes. It reinforces your actions if dishonesty is discovered later. It refutes student claims of capricious action by you. It fosters communication between you and your students.
  • Evaluation methods that generate a high degree of stress (e.g., only one or two exams) may induce academic dishonesty as a coping mechanism by students. Measuring student learning by more frequent tests/quizzes and other means of grading is recommended. Also, making yourself available to assist students and to advise them what to do if they are having difficulty in the course may help alleviate stress.
  • Minimizing the ease with which one can commit academic dishonesty in the classroom encourages honesty. Although some methods of academic dishonesty are so sophisticated that detection is difficult, ample and alert test proctoring is essential. One of the best ways to prevent copying from other students during exams is to distribute alternate forms of the exam that may include the same items arranged in different order on short answer and multiple choice tests. This procedure coupled with staggered seating provides reasonable security. In the event of suspected copying, a second proctor should confirm the observations, if possible. The instructor should identify the other student(s) from whom the suspect appears to be copying in order to compare answers later. Also, proctors should observe whether or not the person from whom the suspect is copying appears to be aiding the copier. The exam should not be disrupted by challenging the suspect or collecting the exam early. Secure the suspect's paper and the papers of those around the suspect at the end of the test. Assigned test seating makes this task and detection much easier.
  • Detecting the use of unauthorized notes (cribs) requires a great deal of monitoring and alertness by proctors. Students can be quite creative in concealing cribs such as notes on the reverse side of mirrored sunglasses, underside of baseball cap bills, erasers, tissue paper on the floor or in the hand, body parts, pencils that have been stripped, etc. Additionally, electronic devices open up a whole realm of possibilities for using unauthorized aids during an exam. When the use of cribs is discovered, have another proctor confirm your observations and retrieve the cribs if the student is willing to relinquish them. If the student is unwilling to surrender the cribs, the second person's observations become more critical. Physical evidence and personal observations are important in the adjudication process.
  • A surprising number of students are not well informed about what constitutes plagiarism and how proper attribution should be made. A class discussion concerning plagiarism may help alleviate the problem. However, other students plagiarize with full knowledge that they are committing dishonest acts. Whether plagiarizing published works, submitting parts or all of previous course papers/projects, or paraphrasing others' ideas or words without proper attribution, plagiarism usually occurs to save students time and effort. When term papers are required, monitoring a student's progress over time and through the use of outlines, rough drafts, and student conferences may help reduce the perceived benefit and motivation to plagiarize. Maintaining a writing sample/style on each student may be used for the purpose of comparison in an investigation of suspected plagiarism. It is impractical for you to check all references listed by students but certainly a much improved or different writing style may cause you to probe further.
  • Altering answers on an exam after it has been graded and submitting it for regrade is a fairly common dishonest practice. Grading papers in red or green ink (difficult to match) with several lines through the incorrect answers, calculations, or narratives makes it more difficult to conceal alterations. If a student requests a regrade on an exam, copying that student's next exam prior to returning it to the student is an easy way to determine if alterations have been made for a future regrade.
  • How much, if any, collaboration among students on out-of-class and in-class assignments is permitted varies by instructor and depends on the type of courses and teaching methods. It is important to clearly state your expectations.
  • One of the most undetected and blatantly dishonest practices is using substitutes (ringers) on exams, particularly when large numbers of students are being tested. Teaching assistants who proctor exams in multiple division courses can be helpful in recognizing substitutes. Seating students from the same sections together makes this task easier. Requiring student picture identifications to compare with the names on the exam at the time they are submitted is an effective deterrence and detection method. Also, checking student picture identifications early in the semester will help prevent ringers in the course.
  • Stealing exams is not an unheard-of problem. Whether exams are stolen from an instructor's office or electronically removed from the testing site, photographed with a cell phone, or taken from the copying room, the problem does occur. Prevention and detection techniques include accounting for the number of exams printed, distributed, and returned. Number exam booklets, forms, etc., and record the numbers on student answer sheets. However, it is better and safer to make new exams each semester.
  • Posting solutions and answers outside of the testing site prior to the end of the exam is discouraged. Occasionally, by one means or another, the answers get filtered into the testing site if posted too early.


For guidelines on what to do when dishonesty is discovered, refer to Responding to Academic Dishonesty: Guidelines for Faculty or contact the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities at 765-494-1250 or

Authored by: Stephen Akers, PhD, Executive Associate Dean of Students, and Kathy Peters, MS, Assistant Dean of Students, 2002, Revised 2013

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