Academic dishonesty is a growing and highly disturbing phenomenon in contemporary American society (Payne & Nantz, 1994, pp. 90-96). The scope of academic dishonesty ranges from plagiarism to the falsification of research results (McCabe & Trevino, 1993, pp. 522-538; Chop & Silva, 1991, pp. 166-171).
This review of the literature relevant to academic dishonesty is in support of a study that will examine the responses of nursing educators to instances of academic misconduct. The initial section of this review deals with the issue at a broad level, while the literature reviewed in the second section focuses on academic dishonesty in nursing.
The Contemporary Phenomenon of Academic Dishonesty
Studies of the phenomenon indicate "that between 50 and 70 percent of freshmen admit to some form of cheating--from looking over shoulders during tests to borrowing other people's work and claiming it as their own" (Goode, 1993, p. 10). Almost all colleges and universities have procedures in place to punish those persons found to be guilty of plagiarism--either student or faculty member. The punitive provisions of these codes of behavior, however, "are rarely enforced, out of fear of litigation by those accused, fear of loss of friendship, or a natural human tendency to sweep unpleasant things under the rug" (p. 10).
Plagiarizing on campus is not limited to students (Goode, pp. 10-15). Stephen Oates, a professor history at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst , has been cited for plagiarizing segments of his biographies of William Faulkner, Martin Luther King, and Abraham Lincoln. Further, in the United States, selling term papers to students "is, if not big business, at least a thriving cottage industry--and in some instances much more" (p. 12). "Many observers are pessimistic about ever solving the problem, for two reasons: the size of American universities and the fight for federal and private funding" (p. 13).