Consequences of Academic Dishonesty

I’ve been writing a bit recently about plagiarism – what it is, why we should not do it and some of the consequences of being caught plagiarising. With this post I wish to explore more about the consequences of plagiarism and academic dishonesty more generally.

It might be tempting to cheat – copy someone else’s work and claim it as your own (plagiarism) or work with others and submit work you’ve produced together (collusion). I can say to you that this is wrong (academic dishonesty if you’re a student) but you need to assess the risks for yourself which is why I’m going to outline the consequences.

There are consequences not just in the short-term – what happens with your studies, but long-term – what might happen with your job, your reputation and potentially your career. These are the things I’m going to look at here.

Academic Consequences

When you submit an assessment that is discovered to be plagairised or have evidence of other cheating, your college/university is likely to carry out an investigation, and as a minimum your assignment will be rejected and you will be given a fail for the submission. If you’re lucky you will be given the opportunity to submit a new assessment, but this is by no way guaranteed.

Depending on the seriousness of the situation you may find yourself in front of a Disciplinary Hearing which could lead to failure of assessments, removal from courses and excluded from the college/university where they’re studying. I remember my sister being shocked when this happened to one of her classmates when she was at university – first time the student plagiarised, they were thrown off the course. Generally universities will take academic dishonesty this seriously. If this happens, the academic dishonesty would be recorded and is likely to have an impact on any future studies you wish to do. Any student with a record of plagiarism on file, should they apply for another course in the future, their plagiarism etc would be reported when any references were taken up – that links to the workplace too, if a potential employer were to contact your college/university for a reference.

Reputational Consequences

If you have a reputation for dishonesty (from references from your studies) then you will have more difficulty obtaining a job. Employers want employees who are reliable, trustworthy and honest. It may not seem serious to you, but if your academic references say you cheated, it may be counted against you. Equally, if you omit information from your applications or CV and employers found out, you could lose your job and possibly even end up with a criminal record.

Academics sometimes are tempted to plagiarise too, but that’s just as wrong too – they are likely to ruin their careers if they get caught. A former Dean of Durham University, in 2007 destroyed his career when he was found to have plagiarised a student’s work.

It may seem not such a big thing to cheat a little on an assessment, but there are always better ways of managing your coursework or other tasks you need to complete. Hopefully highlighting the consequences will persuade you not to plagiarise.

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