What is cheating?

Cheating in the academic sense can be defined many ways. First, let's take a step back and look at the various ways we can define the word cheating.

"Cheating is when a person misleads, deceives, or acts dishonestly on purpose." -

"Academic cheating is defined as representing someone else's work as your own. It can take many forms, including sharing another's work, purchasing a term paper or test questions in advance, paying another to do the work for you." - ETS (Educational Testing Service)

"to cheat: (verb) 1a: to practice fraud or trickery, 1b: to violate rules of dishonesty." - Mariam-Webster Dictionary

A whopping 95 percent of high school students say they’ve cheated during the course of their education, ranging from letting somebody copy their homework to test-cheating, a Rutgers University professor reports. - School Library Journal

So what is cheating? Based on a compilation of these various definitions, cheating as a broad, sweeping term means to act dishonestly or to deceive. Cheating in school is a definition that students don't seem to be tracking with. According to various surveys, students admit to committing acts of academic dishonesty, but do not believe them to be acts of academic dishonesty. With the rise in technology, cheating resources are more easily accessible, making it easier to commit acts of academic dishonesty. Additionally, students can now hide behind the technology when committing these acts, making them more likely to cheat. In the past, cheating would be more obvious and take place in the classroom, yet students now have the opportunity to cheat on a more individual level, making it harder to detect.

How do students cheat?

Cheating can be defined by a variety of actions. Some of the more traditional techniques for cheating include:
  • Peeking at someone else's paper
  • Collaborating with students on work assigned to be completed individually
  • Copying homework
  • Paying someone else to write a paper or downloading a pre-prepared paper from an online Web site
  • Developing a cheat sheet
  • Getting access to the test before the exam date (either by stealing the test or referencing tests from a previous semester)

cheating.jpgThere are many methods students utilize for cheating. Teachers may be familiar with the traditional techniques, however, the increase in technology has provided students with additional resources for cheating that may be less familiar to teachers. Below are just a few of the new resources students are turning to as an aide to cheating:

iPAQ: a hand-held computer that can download information (similar to a Palm Pilot)

Cell Phones: Students can take pictures of questions or answers and send them to friends. With text messaging, students could also possibly communicate with others students about answers during an exam. Access to the internet on cell phones additionally would allow students to download information to their cell phone.

Essay databases: Several Web sites maintain an archive of essays available for purchase and/or download. Some of these resources include Essay Town, Write Work, School Sucks, and 123 Help Me.

mp3 Players: Students may use an mp3 player to play recordings of the lecture or recordings of their notes during an exam. Some teachers may allow these devices, however students can easily hide these players by wearing a hat or subtly hiding the earpiece chord.

Sparknotes: This resources is an online version of Cliff Notes, allowing students to read summarize of major literary works. The resource goes beyond providing a play-by-play summary of the literary work and additionally provides character analyses, information on major themes, and sample test questions and essay topics (

Why do students cheat?

cheating-everyones-doing-it-01-af.jpgIt's all about the grades. With such tough competition and pressure to get into good colleges and strong programs, students place heavy value on a good grade, rather than the experience of learning the material. Therefore, students are turning to cheating to get ahead.

"They are driven cheaters," says the high school teacher I've mentioned who was suspended from college for cheating. "They do it for grades, not because they're lazy or stupid or don't know the material. It's sad, you see, because they're so driven to have a high grade-point average so they can get into their first-choice college. I hate it, because they lose interest in learning. I tell their parents that it's okay if they get a B. It's more important to be a well-rounded, interested, bright kid. But that's a hard sell." - A High School Teacher on cheating (School for Champions)

"What's important is getting ahead," says 17-year-old Alice Newhall. "The better grades you have, the better school you get into, the better you're going to do in life. And if you learn to cut corners to do that, you're going to be saving yourself time and energy. In the real world, that's what's going to be going on. The better you do, that's what shows. It's not how moral you were in getting there." (Survey: Many students, say cheating's OK, CNN.)

Because everyone's doing it. Especially in instances in which a teacher utilizes a curve, students that are working hard and doing the work may be falling behind the students that are completing the tasks honestly. Students think if everyone else is cheating, you're almost at a detriment if they don't cheat as well.

"There's other people getting better grades than me and they're cheating. Why am I not going to cheat? It's kind of almost stupid if you don't," said Joe. (ABC: A Cheating Crisis in America's Schools)

No one will know. With the technology available to students, it is easier to commit acts of cheating withough immediate recognition. Technology allows a veil for students to hide behind when committing these acts, whereas traditional methods for cheating take place in the classroom and are more easy to detect.

"I think just because you are not making the person to person contact (it's easier) to convince yourself that you are not doing something wrong." Kyle Cohen, a senior at Ridgewood High School in New Jersey (CBS: High-Tech Cheating on the Rise At Schools)

Policies at Marquette University
Academic honesty policies at Marquette University are defined by: "Marquette University is committed to developing the whole person, spiritually, mentally, physically, socially and ethically. As an institution of higher education, Marquette has love of truth at the center of its enterprise. Academic honesty, in all its forms, is an explicit value of the university." The policy is divided into several categories:
  1. Responsibility for academic dishonesty: "Academic honesty consists of truth telling and truthful representations in all academic contexts. All members of the academic community have a responsibility to ensure that academic honesty is maintained." An interesting distinction at Marquette is that the responsibility extends beyond simply following the rules to helping to enforce the rules. Students can suffer consequences for failing to report incidents of academic dishonesty they have witnessed.
  2. Definitions of academic dishonesty: This outlines various acts of cheating considered to be acts of academic misconduct including cheating, dishonest conduct, plaigarism and collision.
  3. Research disconduct: Research misconduct is defined as fabrication, falsification, or plagiarism in proposing, performing, or reviewing research, or in reporting research results. The research misconduct policy applies to faculty, students, and others who are employed by or affiliated with Marquette University.
  4. Consequences of academic dishonesty: No clear consequences are outlined, rather the policy makes clear that each situation will be reviewed and investigated and can result in severe penalizations for students.
  5. Procedures for Incidents of Academic Dishonesty: This section more clearly outlines actions taken in incidents of academic dishonesty. Faculty are required to report the incident within 15 calendar days of its occurence. Then based on whether the student had committed previous acts of dishonesty, the policy outlines possible consequences for First Offenses, Second or Repeat Offenses and Other Considerations.
  6. Maintenance of Disciplinary Records: "Records relating to academic dishonesty will be maintained by the associate dean of the student’s assigned college to promote consistency of penalties for academic dishonesty and to ensure appropriate action against repeat offenders."
  7. Professional Ethics and Standards: "It is the student’s responsibility to know and follow these standards/codes of ethics, which are part of the student’s academic program. These special expectations and procedures, including the appeals process, will be provided the student upon enrollment in the program and are available in published form in the administrative offices overseeing these programs."

(Information pulled from Marquette University's Academic Dishonest Policy and Procedures)



  • Copyright, as defined in the Merriam-Webster dictionary, is the exclusive legal right to reproduce, publish, sell, or distribute the matter and form of something (as a literary, musical, or artistic work).
  • Copyright, as defined by the United States government, is a form of protection provided by the laws of the United States (title 17, U. S. Code) to the authors of “original works of authorship,” including literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and certain other intellectual works. This protection is available to both published and unpublished works. (Please note these rights do not have unlimited scope, for more details around scope please refer to the fair use section of this wiki page.)
  • Copyright, in layman's terms, a federal law that protects an individual's original works, no matter the medium, so long as they are in a fixed form of some sort. (In otherwords copyright protects almost everything shy of ideas.)

Where did Copyright Laws come from?
  • In the United States Constitution under Article 1 Section 8 Congress is given the power to "To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries."
  • The Berne Convention, and the United States' resulting Berne Convention Implementation Act of 1988, extended copyright laws across national borders. The Berne Convention requires all signing countries to recognize the copyrighted works of authors from other countries in the same way that they recognize the copyright rights of their own authors. List of signatories

What is protected by Copyright Laws?
  • Literature
  • Music
  • Dramatic Works
  • Pantomime/ Choreography
  • Visual Arts
  • Motion Pictures
  • Sound Recordings
  • Architecture

How are copyrighted works protected?
  • Reproduce the work
  • Create derivatives of that work
  • Distribute the work
  • Transfer ownership of the work
  • Authorize public performance of the work
  • Authorize public display of the work
If individuals other than the copyright holder commit any of these acts without the written consent of the copyright holder it is considered copyright infringement. Fair Use does provide some exceptions for educators and the news media though.

Examples of Copyright Infringement
  • Music
  • Software
    • Any software programs that are not written and owned by you should not be on your Web page where others can download it. When a commercial software application is purchased, you are only buying a license to use it -- you do not own the software itself and therefore you are not entitled to redistribute it.
    • Downloading software to multiple computers in your home or lending it to family members to also use. Most software is intended to only be used on one machine at a time unless special licenses are purchased.
  • Images
    • Including any photos on your Web page that you did not take yourself, or any graphics you did not create on your own may be a violation of copyright. For example, don't even think about including a Dilbert comic strip on your site. The following is stated in the Dilbert Web site's FAQ: "If you display an element from our site on your Web page, you have altered our material and redistributed it without our permission. Altering our copyrighted material in any way is a violation of United Media's copyrights."
      • There are many sources of free clip-art available in the public domain that you can use though and some may even be included with your purchase of various software packages.

Copyright protection

What isn't protected?
  • Names (including internet domain names), titles, slogans, or short phrases, but they might be protected under trademark laws
  • Copyright does not protect ideas or concepts until they are expressed in some tangible way. For example you could write them down or record them.
  • Works prepared by the federal government, such as legislation, are not protected by copyright laws, however, state, county and city works can be.
  • Recipes - a list of ingredients cannot be copyrighted but if a formula or directions are provided then the recipe can be copyrighted.
  • Public Domain Works - The public domain is an enormous mass of intellectual property which includes songs, books, movies, legislation, etc. that is open and available for the public to use freely (
    • Note: some of these items might be protected under other intellectual property laws like patents and trademarks.

How do you know if something is protected by copyright laws?
  • As a general rule of thumb if it is an original, creative work and there is no notification indicating that it is part of the public domain or that has been released under creative commons assume that it is protected by copyright laws.
  • Creators of original and creative work do no need to go through any special process to obtain a copyright, it is automatically conferred the moment it recorded in a tangible enduring form. (There is a formal registration process though if the creator so chooses, which may be necessary in the case of a law suit.)

How long is something protected by a copyright?
  • A work is protected for 70 years after the creator dies
  • Or, if it was created before 1923 it is not currently protected by copyright laws
  • If something was created before 1923 or it's creator died over 70 years ago it is considered part of the public domain.

How do you obtain permission to use a copyrighted work?
  • To obtain permission to use a work protected by copyright, you must determine who is the copyright owner of the material you intend to use, contact the owner, and request the right to use the work in the territory and format you intend. Be sure to get the permission in writing.
    • Some copyright owners associated with publishers will send you a required permission form to fill out, while others may just ask for your request in a letter.
  • In some cases you may have to pay the owner a fee to use their material.
  • Often the most difficult part of this process is finding the owner to ask permission to use the work.
  • Here are some links to templates students can use to request permission to use a copyrighted work

Using Copyrighted Material in the Classroom

General Guidelines
Courtesy of, for more details see the Fair Use section of this wiki

Writing from a book, magazine, etc
  • Up to 1000 words, but not more than 10% of the book or article Copyright.JPG
  • Up to 250 words (or the entire poem if it is less than 250 words
  • No more than 3 poems by the same poet
  • No more than 5 poems from a collection of poetry
Photographs of Drawings
  • Up to 5 graphics or photos from the same person
  • No more than 15 images from the same collection
  • Images can not be changed
  • Up to 3 minutes but no more than 10% of the entire video
  • The video clip may not be changed in any way
  • What about Youtube videos? These can be copyrighted too, just because you see something on YouTube it doesn't mean that it's okay for you to upload that content yourself too. It is important to ask permission first, though several users choose to release their work under the creative commons license.
  • Up to 30 seconds but no more than 10% of sheet music
  • Up to 30 seconds but no more than 10% of a recording
  • The music can not be changed in any major way

How to Appropriately Give Credit to Your Sources:
  • An opening screen of a presentation must indicate that it follows the "fair use" rules of the U.S. Copyright law
  • Copyright information for all items used must be included in a bibliography
  • Citation Websites to check out
    • - free citation software for students including APA, MLA, and Chicago style citations
    • MLA Handbook - to purchase the handbook or find general information
    • Son of Citation Machine - simply type in the ISBN number for you book, select your desired format (APA or MLA) and presto, you have a citation.


Defining "Fair Use"

In simplest terms, Fair Use is the conditions under which one can use material that is copyrighted by another individual without paying royalties.

USLoC.jpgUSCO.jpgHowever, like many legal matters, deciding the particulars of an individual fair use situation is not always simple. Accordingly, the U.S. Copyright Office, a division of the Library of Congress, has developed the so-called "doctrine of fair use," which outlines the general terms for limited usage of copyrighted material without requiring permission from the copyrights holders. These guidelines were developed as the result of numerous court decisions, but do NOT provide an exact definition to what is to be considered fair use or what precautions provide users with safe harbor. Instead, this doctrine is intentionally flexible and is meant to adapt to changing circumstances.

It's primary tenet is to protect the rights of the copyright owner while allowing others to stimulate "the progress of science and useful arts," as outlined in Section 1, Article 8, Clause 8 of the U.S. Constitution. This clause has come to be known as the Copyright Clause. As stated on the website of the U.S. Copyright Office, the following is an excerpt the "Copyright Laws of the United States of America." It is entitled "Limitations on exclusive rights: Fair use."

Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 106: Exclusive rights in copyrighted works and 106A: Rights of certain authors to attribution and integrity, the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright. In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use the factors to be considered shall include —
  1. the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
  2. the nature of the copyrighted work;
  3. the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and
  4. the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.
The fact that a work is unpublished shall not itself bar a finding of fair use if such finding is made upon consideration of all the above factors.

Once again, it is worth noting that these guidelines are intentionally vague and flexible. In a Factsheet published by the Copyright Office in September of 2010 on the topic of "Fair use of copyrighted materials," they specifically note that, "The distinction between fair use and infringement may be unclear and not easily defined. There is no specific number of words, lines, or notes that may safely be taken without permission. Acknowledging the source of the copyrighted material does not substitute for obtaining permission."

NoCR.jpgFrom a practical standpoint, the Copyright Office does offer some advice to would-be users of copyrighted material. In short they say, when in doubt get permission from the copyright owner before using copyrighted material. And, as a matter of course, this Office exempts themselves, noting that they cannot:
  1. give permissions.
  2. determine if a certain usage would be considered fair use or not.
  3. advise on possible copyright violations.

As the doctrine of fair use has evolved, the following types of publications have typically been found to be fair uses of copyrighted materials:
"Weird Al" Yankovic

  • commentary and criticism — including quoting other's work in order to review or criticism or comment.
  • news reporting — including quoting speeches or articles in a news report.
  • research and scholarship — quoting passages in an academic work for illustration or clarification of the author's observations.
  • non-profit educational uses — including library archiving and usage by teachers in the classroom.
  • parody — work that ridicules another's, usually in a comic manner. Parodies are common in the world of music and are probably most associated with "Weird Al" Yankovic. Many of this artist's videos are on YouTube, including the technology inspired, "It's All About the Pentiums."

Practical Applications & Classroom Examples

Instead of offering clear decisions about fair use in specific cases, the law instead invites us to consider the four factors outlined in the copyright code: Purpose, Nature, Amount, and Effect. And while all of the factors will likely NOT lean in one direction or the other, the fair use doctrine relies upon a "reasonable person's" evaluation of the rights of the copyright holder and the fair use publisher.
  1. Purpose — Historically, fair use actions on the part of courts and Congress have favored non-profit over commercial usage of copyrighted material. This would include purely educational uses over for-profit uses. The development of this doctrine has also favored works that are deemed to be "transformative." That is to say, the copyrighted work(s) are transformed into something that is new or provides additional utility to society. This factor is tied to the copyright exemptions outlined in the aforementioned Copyright Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

    Within the classroom, we see this fair use regularly as we combine previously published works into new formats - for such as a wikispaces pages on "The Big Three" learning theories - the purpose of educating our students.

  2. Nature — The fair use doctrine does recognize that the original documents, and its copyright holders, deserve protection. In particular, the courts have favored copyrights of unpublished works (giving the right of first publication to the copyright holder) and educational material (protecting it from commercial use). It is worth noting that printed material generally has been more protected than non-printed works.

    morningstar-300x225.jpgIn the classroom, copyrighted material originally meant for commercial use is general favored for fair use, but not vice-versa. To this end, many investment classes use a single common login/password on commercial sites. For example, an investment class may use communal access to Morningstar's proprietary research.

  3. Amount — Both qualitatively and quantitatively, the Copyright Office offers little to no formal guidance. in fact, their Factsheet specifically notes that, "There is no specific number of words, lines, or notes that may safely be taken without permission." In general, the less that is used relative to the size of the whole, the more likely that the sample will be considered fair use.

    For academic purposes, teachers can often provide citations and summaries of articles published in refereed journals, but providing entire articles is without permission often falls beyond fair usage, particularly if such copies make up the course readings in total.

  4. Effect — Courts will also consider the effect that any possible copyright infringement might have on the copyright holder's ability to exploit the original work. This includes investigating whether the potential fair use would significantly harm the copyright holder's market and whether widespread fair usage would harm the holder's market. Like the Purpose guideline, the courts have favored non-commercial users. As a matter of law, the burden of proof lies with the "fair user" in commercial cases, but with the copyright holder if the fair user is non-commercial.

    Within the classroom, this may be the most difficult factor to assess. It is easy to assume that a teacher's occasional photocopy of a textbook may not an impact on the value of the entire textbook, but the courts (and the individual teacher) should consider the effect of this practice becoming widespread.

Is This "Fair Use"?

According to Nolo®, a legal publishing service, there are five (5) basic rules to keep in mind when considering whether or not a particular use of a copyrighted work falls under the doctrine of fair use. These rules are:
  1. Are you creating something new or just copying?
  2. Are you competing with the source you're copying from?
  3. Giving the author credit doesn't let you off the hook
  4. The more you take, the less fair your use is likely to behome_nolo_logo.gif
  5. The quality of the material used is as important as the quantity

They also offer some simple advice: "In determining whether your intended use of another author's protected work constitutes a fair use, the golden rule is: Take from someone else only what you wouldn't mind someone taking from you."

For Marquette University Students

The Raynor Memorial Libraries has the Marquette's policies online at: