Statistics on Cheating

International Center for Academic Integrity

The survey data gathered by Don McCabe (Rutgers U) from Fall 2002 to Spring 2015 shows the following:

  • 65-75% of undergrads admit to cheating at least one time
  • 19-20% of undergrads admit to cheating at least five times
  • 62% of undergrads admit to cheating on written assignments at least once

(NOTE: The data does not include first-year students, honor code schools, or 2-year schools.)

Why does the survey not include first-year students? First-year student may

  • try testing the water: what are the boundaries?
  • have time-management issues leading to poor decisions
  • cheat unintentionally (meaning that they don’t realize that what they are doing is considered cheating or they don’t understand the conventions of writing or of the assignment, leading to inadvertent cheating)

The Citation Project

The Citation Project, a decade-long, 16-university study of first-year writing student citation practices indicates that when students include a citation in an essay:

  • Summary = 9%
  • Quoting = 44% (and of that 44%, 4% of the citations were to direct quotations, cited but with no quotation marks)
  • Paraphrasing = 47% (and of that 47% paraphrasing, 16% is FAILED paraphrase or PATCHWRITING)
  • In other words, these are students who are CITING their SOURCES; they think they are doing source-based writing correctly; their missteps are UNINTENTIONAL.
  • 52% of papers examined included at least one incidence of cited patchwriting (maintaining sentence structure of the original with a few synonyms patched in)
  • 46% of citations were to material from the first page of the source
  • 77% of citations were to material no deeper than page 3 of the source
  • In other words, students appear 1) not to be engaging with their sources (not reading or not reading carefully), 2) to be “quote mining,” 3) to have poor academic practices

(NOTE: This research project does not check for uncited source usage or INTENTIONAL plagiarism.)

Conference presentation at CCCC, Atlanta, 2011, later published as Rebecca Moore Howard and Sandra Jamieson, “Researched Writing” in A Guide to Composition Pedagogies. 2e. Ed by Taggart, Hessler, and Schick. Oxford U P (2014) 231-47. (FIND links to the Citation Project under “Faculty Resources”)

Roig Study

The Roig study finds that 50% of undergrads cannot recognize blatant examples of plagiarism.

M. Roig, “Can Undergraduate Students Determine Whether Text Has Been Plagiarized?” The Psychological Record 47:1 (1997) 113-122.

Cheating Stats in the News

UA Students

A large percentage of UA students sanctioned for Academic Misconduct are cases of unintentional plagiarism or poor academic practices.