The acquaintance, role and perception of graduate students about digital academic integrity: a case study to reduce dishonesty in academic writing at applied colleges


Academic misconduct or dishonesty is a worrying concern in higher education programs (Holden et al., 2021). Plagiarism, collusion, contract cheating, making up or falsifying information (Stoesz & Eaton, 2022), sabotaging data, other forms of academic misconduct, and having unapproved materials during a piece of writing; have become more common among college students. This is partly because the internet and mobile and electronic devices have become more approachable and assessable. While the internet`s popularity as a source of information and a portal to knowledge has grown significantly in recent years, it has also given rise to various kinds and rates of academic dishonesty. An online Likert scale questionnaire will investigate digital academic integrity among college students and the teachers’ perception is also discussed about students’ this behaviour. The goal is to explore male and female undergraduate students` acquaintances with and perceptions of academic digital integrity at King Khalid University`s applied colleges. The study will explore themes concerning the meaning, forms, origins, frequency, and causes of academic misconduct. From the students` perspective, the study will come up with ways to cut down on digital academic misconduct in Saudi universities, such as cheating on writing assignments.

A survey will be administered to measure how students perceived ``academic integrity`` as well as to investigate students` experience of violating academic integrity.

Keywords: digital, academic, integrity, dishonesty, Artificial Intelligence (AI), DAI (Digital Academic Integrity), Academic Dishonesty (AD), plagiarism


Academic dishonesty (AD) is becoming increasingly pressing in the classroom. There is a widespread belief that things are getting worse due to declining student ethics and standards, the proliferation of cheating technologies, and the enrollment of students from increasingly diverse backgrounds (Peled, 2019).

What does AD signify to students in the technology-driven 21st century? Some researchers, echoing a common worry, say that the fact that information is available in so many different ways, such as through Google, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, blogs, YouTube, translate apps, ChatGPT, Grammarly, Quillbot etc., and that it can be accessed anywhere and at any time, has made it harder for students to understand, making them more likely to do and be accused of plagiarism (Moormand & Horton, 2007, as quoted in Chang et al., 2015).

What does academic integrity mean in colleges?

Academic dishonesty is defined in many ways depending on the institution, school board and age of the students. We might start first with the International Centre for Academic Integrity’s list of fundamental values which underpins all concepts of academic integrity: honesty, trust, fairness, respect, responsibility, and courage (“Fundamental Values,” 2019).

The term "Academic Integrity" refers to the standard of honesty and fair play upheld by schools and universities. The ideals and guidelines provide an environment conducive to learning and student agency. Plagiarism avoidance is an important part of maintaining academic integrity, but it`s not the only thing that counts. Students need to know that there is no acceptable level of cheating in the classroom. Plagiarism, including using technology to copy work that the student didn`t make, giving false information about oneself or others, making up or changing papers, and breaking copyright laws are all examples of academic integrity violations. There are numerous ways to cheat.

Studying rituals range from slamming your book when you get an answer wrong to something as basic as duplicating someone else`s answer on an exam. Plagiarism restrictions are no exception; there are always creative ways to get around them. Students who cheat risk low grades, failing courses, or possibly being expelled from school.

Students must be made aware that any form of cheating will not be permitted. Because of its importance in fostering learning for all students, maintaining course quality, and encouraging the development of effective study habits, academic integrity is a must in a university context. There would be no way to ensure continuity of education, continued relevance of coursework, or that scholastic performance is based on effort rather than innate talent without a commitment to academic integrity.

Academic dishonesty (AD) seems to be an increasing area of concern in education. There is a perception that the problem is becoming worse, with our students’ ethics and standards dropping, with access to technology increasing cheating and with an influx of culturally diverse students (Peled, 2019).

Why is honesty important in academic writing?

Literature Review-

Research problem

The Applied Colleges affiliated with King Khalid University received many complaints of students` misconduct in writing academic tasks (essays and projects at levels 1 and 2). Even though students say they do not cheat, copy, or get help from paid professionals, teachers and evaluators often complain that many students do academically dishonest things when they are asked to do assignments for academic purposes. The study attempts to find out the student`s acquaintance with academic integrity, the reasons for conducting dishonesty, and how it is done when asked to submit any academic tasks.

Research gap

Many studies have focused on academic misconduct and delinquency among college students. However, this study focuses primarily on the digital academic misconduct of Applied Colleges’ students who use digital tools. The study highlights students’ academic integrity acquaintance and the role of being fair and academically honest while doing an academic task with the help of digital tools. On the one hand, the study aims to comprehend how EFL students view digital academic integrity; on the other, it offers advice on how to lessen plagiarism and conduct honest academic work. To the best of the researcher’s knowledge, this was also the first time a study on cheating and plagiarism was conducted in King Khalid University.

Research Design

A quantitative descriptive research methodology will be applied to inquire the students’ and teachers’ perception. A five–point Likert scale questionnaire will be prepared to inquire about acquaintance, role, perception, and suggestions for reducing plagiarism in academic writing tasks. A questionnaire will be distributed among the Applied Colleges’ students and instructors to know the depth of the topic.

1. Research Questions-

2. Research Objectives and the Significance of the Study-

3. Methods/Methodology- Quantitative analysis




Research Hypotheses

The research hypothesis is that by providing the knowledge of digital academic integrity, their perception towards cheating and copying may be changed, and they may be motivated to create authentic and genuine work. University students must be informed about different types of cheating and ways of acknowledging the author in their work. The study includes two variables, an independent variable is the academic writing tasks, and the dependent variable is the different forms of academic dishonesty. Having been informed and made aware of the misconduct, how can academic honesty be increased among the students.

Research Questions:

Research question 1: What and how do students respond to assignments and projects in writing skills that claim they violate their academic integrity?

Research question 2: What elements (or causes) contribute to the disregard in writing skill for academic integrity among EFL students?

Research question 3: What are the suggestions of Applied college students to maintain the fundamental values of academic integrity in the writing skill?

1. Findings/Results

1.1.Results/Findings of the questionnaires

1.2.Students’ perception survey results

1.3.Instructors’ perceptions survey results

4. Conclusion- Most of the research on AD, whether it was about ethics, technology, or culture, called for big changes to how we teach and promote digital integrity.

Cooperative learning, evaluating texts, paraphrasing, and making ethical decisions are all necessary for success in a digital learning environment of the 21st century. However, we are still figuring out how to teach these skills and the best practices.

Recommendations: In light of 21st-century mobile learning and ICT, it is an interesting moment to be a teacher, as we must question and negotiate the applicability of the 20th-century skills that many of us grew up with. For instance, collaboration is a talent that has value today and was critical in the 20th century (and long before). But the constructivist and connectivity contexts of today require a more complex and specialized set of skills. However, flawless handwriting is of little to no worth. Digital reading, note-taking, and collaboration are new skills that must be acquired and practiced to prevent AD.


5. Authors’ contribution

6. Acknowledgement

7. Author’s Short Bio

8. Interest of Conflict

9. References

10. Notes

11. Appendixes


1.Demographic Information-

I.Gender- Male/female

II.Level- level 1/ level 2

2. General information based questions-

Explaining DAI in a paragraph first or on the top in the questionnaire and ask the students to read and understand this paragraph carefully then give their valuable responses the prescribed questions on behalf their experiences and opinions.

I.What is Digital Academic Integrity? (you can choose more than one)

a. Submitting someone else`s work as yours

b. Representing someone else`s views or theories without attribution.

c. Fabricating assignment data (all or in part).

d. Unauthorized use of cell phones, smart watches, etc.

e. Unauthorized cooperation on homework, assignments, or exams

f. Using others` work without asking them.

h. Submitting tasks/projects for another student.

i. Asking or allowing another student to submit assignments for you.

j. Copying others without quote marks

k. paraphrasing or copying Internet content without attribution

l. Stealing, duplicating, circulating, or advancing

m. Falsifying information on an official academic record

2. Write common mediums or trends by which students take part in academically dishonest activities?

a) the students use technology to cheat

b) use mobile phones and tablets;

c) the use of google translate, WhatsApp, Facebook, and other texting;

d) use the online solution manuals (provided by book publishers/teachers/experts);

e) use cheat chits (i.e., sheets, students refer to them as chits);

f) cheat from friends;

g) cheat by writing on skin, tables, and calculators

3. What and how do students respond to assignments and projects in writing skills that claim they violate their academic integrity?

  1. You fabricated statements and data on an assignment that were taken from an e-book /internet/ academic article you had read.
  2. On a course assignment, you included content from the internet without citing the source or the fact that the content had been taken from a different source.
  3. You asked another student to help you solve an assignment you were clearly expected to prepare independently.
  4. During an exam, you tried to copy from a mobile and a smartwatch that you put on your hand.
  5. You submitted the assignment that was prepared by another student in the course.
  6. The student sent a request to a social platform to ask for help solving an assignment, which s/he was expected to prepare on his/her own.
  7. You sent your assignment by email/WhatsApp/Snapchat to another student in the course.
  8. You give your printed written assignments to another student for his/her help.
  9. On a course assignment, the student included content from a book s/he borrowed from the library without citing the source.
  10. In an assignment and project paper, you included content from another student’s academic work without citing the source from which it was taken.
  11. The student asks for help from a professional to write an assignment paper or a project, which s/he was supposed to prepare on his/her own.
  12. The student gave his/her printed assignment paper to another student writing a seminar on a similar topic.

4. What elements (or causes) contribute to the disregard in writing skill for academic integrity among EFL students?

1. Not giving enough time to submit the assignments

2. Lack of interest to complete assignment

3. Lack of skills to effectively complete assignment

4. Difficulty of exam/assignment/projects

5. The need to score a high grade

6. Lack of study forces towards taking help from outside

7. Having a lot of assignments to do at the same time

8. Wanting to help friends

9. Teacher’s unclear explaining about what to be written in assignments

10. Feeling bored with the posting activity

11. Knowing that other students also violate academic integrity

12. Unfamiliar of critical and creative thinking, and another writing skills

13. Unaware of writing format and proposals

14. Poor and weak learning at their past and previous classes

15. Unknown about grammars and transition word/phrases

16. Wish to show the best than other students

5. What are the suggestions of Applied college students to maintain the fundamental values of academic integrity in the writing skill?

A. For students

1. Perform an academic search instead of relying solely on Google

2. Look for credible sources for accurate and valuable information

3. Use relevant evidence to your topic

4. Accurately cite credible sources for your academic work

5. Provide an original academic voice/thought and ideas for the academic work

6. Avoid all forms of plagiarism for academic writing work

B. For an academic institution

7. Have consistent academic integrity statements, policies, and processes.

8. Educate the community about academic integrity guidelines.

9. Have a clear, accessible, and fair policy violation punishment procedure.

10. Set up campus-wide academic honesty programs.

11. Monitor higher education and technology trends affecting academic integrity on campus.

12. Evaluate and update its policies and processes regularly.

C. For teaching pedagogy

13. Provide full knowledge of academic dishonesty

14. Group work should be applied

15. Referencing and research skills should be taught

16. Stress and time management skills should be introduced

17. Academic advice and tutoring should be given

Thus, the paper first addresses the question of why students engage in academically dishonest behaviors.

Holden, O. L., Norris, M. E., & Kuhlmeier, V. A. (2021). Academic integrity in online assessment: A research review. Frontiers in Education, 6:639814.

Stoesz, B. M., & Eaton, S. E. (2022). Academic Integrity Policies of Publicly Funded Universities in Western Canada. Educational Policy, 36(6), 1529–1548.

Posted by: Dr. Hebah Asaad Hamza Sheerah, Assistant Professor of English , King Khalid University, Saudi Arabia (02-Sep-2023)