December Executive Blog

Would You Knowingly Cheat?

I was hoping that my turn writing the executive blog would be a bright and cheery one with the holidays fast approaching, and a well-deserved break from school and work for some of us.  But really, how would I fill a whole page with holiday wishes?  It seems it would be a better use of this space to give you some really important information that could save you from accusations of academic misconduct.  Sounds serious, doesn’t it?

One of the hot topics at AU and across post-secondary institutions recently is plagiarism and cheating.  Almost every AU committee agenda, or meeting with AU executive in the recent months has at least touched on this subject.  The instances of plagiarism and cheating are growing. Students are being charged with academic misconduct more than ever, and are left facing serious consequences, including lengthy suspensions.

But…I have to wonder why anyone would knowingly cheat, and why would so many students suddenly decide to knowingly do this?  I can only come up with one reasonable answer – the majority of students must not know that what they are doing is cheating!

When I think about the world today and how much we rely on the internet for getting and giving information, then maybe it makes sense that students are used to seeking out information and  answers on the internet.  Students are so used to using this information for every day life that they don’t realize using this information for their assignments is being dishonest.

With so much information on display, it can’t be easy to have an idea or perspective that is original. I worry about this every time I hand in an assignment.  What if my thoughts are similar to someone else’s published thoughts?  What if I have defined a term similar to a text book or dictionary?  How many ways can someone describe e-commerce anyway?  Or describe the connection between social media and  personal relationships?  It can’t be endless, can it?

On the flip side, it is also cheating to upload your work for someone else to use. Websites that require you to share your work in order to get access to their database of documents will cause you to be just as guilty of academic misconduct as the person who subsequently uses your work in their assignment. Assignments, quizzes, and exam questions are property of AU and it is against their policy for a student to share them.

If you are unsure what websites you should be cautious of, here are a few examples:  Wikipedia,, Course Hero.  DO NOT COPY WORK FROM THESE SITES OR SIMILAR SITES, AND DO NOT UPLOAD YOUR WORK TO THEM.  Be cautious when using social media sites, question and answer sites, file sharing sites and homework help sites when completing your school work.

If you are unsure what you can and cannot do, simply follow these rules:



Your work should be YOUR work.  It should be original to you and although information can come from many different places, once the ideas are included in an essay or assignment they should be in your own words, from your own perspective, with your own opinions.

AU released a blog post recently providing some great information on this topic.  I am not sure how this was distributed or if any of you have read it.  However, it is posted as a link through the myAU page and I think it is something that every AU student should read.  You can find it here.

I think that the best way to reverse this growing trend is through educating people about the topic.  I hope that my blog has helped clarify what not to do.  I also hope that AU continues to discuss the issue and come up with ways to educate and communicate with students, not only on what not to do, but on acceptable ways to gather information through the internet and how to use it.

For other writing tips, check out AU’s Write Site.

My overall advice is to be aware, and be original.

And, of course, Happy Holidays to each of you!


Kim Newsome
VP Finance and Administration