Academic dishonesty has been prevalent in varying degrees since the founding of higher institutions. Although institutions identify unethical behavior for faculty, student, and staff in policy handbooks, they also typically have different disciplinary and honor codes for students. Such codes have a long history in the Western tradition. Aristotle’s works on politics and ethics influenced academic integrity in the Western tradition. In fact, Aristotle wrote that ethical codes had to be embodied in a code of law interconnected with the whole framework of social and political systems. Aristotle also explained that young citizens had to learn these laws in order to live the life of citizens and of individuals following accepted standards of right and wrong.
“Do no harm,” the crux of the Hippocratic oath, has been a model for medical and educational ethical codes. The oath includes a commitment to serve others selflessly and to avoid intentional misdeeds. Colonial schools and colleges adhered to policies requiring moral and ethical conduct. Although there were instances of deviations, accountability for responsible conduct, honesty, and service were highly prized. Punishment for immorality was harsh and swift. Schoolbooks such as McGuffey’s Readers emphasized duty, honor, respect for authority, and hard work. Truth, accuracy, and industry were expected and rewarded. Schools and colleges had assessment measures for comportment in the 19th and 20th centuries.
From public schools to universities, there has been a growing culture of academic dishonesty. The larger society has been challenged by fraudulent unethical behavior in governmental, religious, economic, and business organizations. As a result, there is renewed attention throughout American society, institutions, and organizations to maintaining the highest performance modes of integrity, honesty, and responsibilities.
Academic dishonesty undermines the central values of higher education. The integrity of research by faculty and students depends on the ability to replicate findings. Responsibility for ethical behavior individually, or as a member of group, may be built from organizational expectations. Undergraduate and graduate students are governed by academic integrity policies that identify specific behaviors of deceit or dishonesty. Student and faculty responsibilities are identified by university policies that define a variety of sanctions against students who have shown such behaviors, including being required to take courses over again, being given failing grades in courses in which they have been deceitful or dishonest, or being assigned additional class reports or work.