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The Importance of Academic Integrity

December 4th, 2010

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Through time, the academic rigors of college have caused many students take shady measures in order to keep their heads above the water. Given the advancement of technology, especially the resources provided by the internet, it seems that cheating is more pervasive than ever. The line between academic honesty and dishonesty has been blurred in many cases, leaving many students in the dark when it comes to what's right and what's wrong.

Perhaps the most common form of academic dishonesty in college is plagiarism. According to Indiana University, plagiarism is "defined as presenting someone else's work, including the work of other students, as one's own. Any ideas or materials taken from another source for either written or oral use must be fully acknowledged, unless the information is common knowledge." This also includes using essay writing sites, such as, that allow you to claim their work as your own, and submitting a paper you previously composed a second time. On a less blatant level, borrowing a train of thought or sentence structure can be plagiarism. When in doubt, cite your sources and don't leave it to chance.

Cheating, unlike plagiarism, is clearly defined and precautions are taken during exams to prevent it. Most professors request their students to sit at least one seat apart from each other, take off their hats and caps, turn off their cell phones, and use calculators (if necessary) that only he or she has provided. In larger classes, proctors are used to comb through the room during exam time to ensure no students are looking at other students' answers, using cheat sheets or anything else that could give them an unfair advantage.

Cheating or plagiarism could lead to expulsion, or at the very least, a zero on a test or assignment that could hinder the cheater from passing the class, irreparably damaging their GPA. The consequences are harsh because, simply, the cheater isn't attempting to learn, defeating the purpose of attaining their degree. Not to mention it's disrespectful to the professor, who has spent years studying the topic for the purpose of educating their students. Cheaters and plagiarizers who get away with it aren't only doing themselves are disservice, but they're also doing a disservice to their peers who didn't take shortcuts. Ultimately, the ends don't justify the means.

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