Academic Integrity

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Why Students Cheat

There are many reasons why a student may plagiarize and they are as diverse and complex as our student body. Awareness, and understanding the reasons why students plagiarize or commit other acts of academic misconduct, (intentionally or unintentionally), allows us to confront the causes and take measures to prevent it.


14 Top Reasons Students Cheat

1. Ignorance or miseducation

2. Lack of research and information literacy skills

3. Confusion about how to cite sources

4. Careless note taking

5. Pressure to get good grades, competition or fear of failure

6. Education as a commodity

7. Lack of knowledge or misconception of copyright, intellectual property or public domain

8. The culture of downloading and sharing

9. Students as “natural economizers”

10. Poor time management and organizational skills

11. Lack of confidence in writing ability

12. The thrill of rule-breaking

13. The social acceptance of cheating

14. Assignments that students see as pointless or trivial

  1. Harris, R.A. (2001). The plagiarism handbook. Los Angeles. Pyrczak.
  2. Academic Integrity. Resources for faculty. University of Alberta Libraries. Available from:
  3. University of British Columbia, Faculty of Arts. (2005). Examples of how students cheat and what you can do to reduce academic dishonesty. Retrieved July 18, 2005 from
  4. Council of Writing Program Administrators. (2003). Defining and avoiding plagiarism: The WPA statement on best practices. Retrieved July 18, 2005 from
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