Student Perceptions of Academic Dishonesty in a Private Middle Eastern University

  • Khawlah Ahmed American University of Sharjah
Keywords: academic dishonesty, academic integrity, plagiarism, cheating, Middle East region


Objective: In varying degrees of severity and seriousness, evidence of academic dishonesty exists in tertiary institutions around the world. This paper examines academic misconduct in a tertiary-level institution in one of the Gulf countries to see if academic dishonesty prevails, and if so, how and why it happens.

Method: To gauge students’ perceptions about academic dishonesty in this context, a survey was distributed to 111 junior, sophomore, and senior level students taking an advanced academic writing course in a private university.

Results: Results show statistically significant evidence that cheating exists.

Conclusions: While research on academic misconduct is extensive in Western contexts, less is documented in the Middle East and North Africa region besides conceptual papers that aim to create a general understanding of this issue and newspaper articles that discuss its prevalence.

Implications for Theory and/or Practice: This paper underscores the existence of academic misconduct in the Middle East and North Africa region, identifying the need for further research and implementation of improved teaching strategies and increased attention regarding academic misconduct.


Afifi, M. (2007). Plagiarism is not fair play. The Lancet, 369(9571), 1428.

Ahmad, Z., Simun, M., & Mohammad, J. (2008). Malaysian university students’ attitudes to academic dishonesty and business ethics. Asia Pacific Journal of Education, 28(2), 149–160.

Ajzen, I. (2002). Perceived behavioral control, self-efficacy, locus of control, and the theory of planned behavior. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 32(4), 665–683.

Al-Lawati, A. (2010, October 27). Plagiarism costs Ba’li Zayed book award. Gulf News. Retrieved from

Al Najami, S. (2009, January 5). Cheating in school exams goes hi-tech. Gulf News. Retrieved from

Anakwe, B., & Thomas-Haysbert, C. (2009). The impact of a code of conduct on student cheating. Consortium Journal of Hospitality & Tourism, 13(2), 15–32.

Bachore, M. M. (2014). Academic dishonesty/ corruption in the period of technology: Its implication for quality of education. American Journal of Educational Research 2(11), 1060–1064.

Blum, S. D. (2009). My word! Plagiarism and college culture. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.

Bonner, K. (Ed.). (2006). The Center for Intellectual Property handbook. New York, NY: Neal-Schuman.

Burns, A. (2010). Doing action research in English language teaching: A guide for practitioners. New York, NY: Routledge.

Callahan, D. (2004). The cheating culture: Why more Americans are doing wrong to get ahead. Orlando, FL: Harcourt, Inc.

Carmichael, M. (2012, August 30). Harvard accuses 125 students of cheating. The Boston Globe. Retrieved from

Carter, S. L., & Punyanunt-Carter, N. M. (2006). Acceptability of treatments for cheating in the college classroom. Journal of Instructional Psychology, 33(3), 212–216.

Chanock, K. (2005). Considerations relevant to plagiarism policy and practices to support it. Unpublished discussion paper. La Trobe University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.

Cheating, writing, and arithmetic: A new epidemic of fraud is sweeping through our schools. (1999, November 22). U.S. News & World Report, 127.

Chen, X. (2009). Relationship among achievement goal, academic self-efficacy and academic cheating of college students. Chinese Journal of Clinical Psychology, 17(2), 243–245.

Coalter, T., Lim, C. L., & Wanorie, T. (2007). Factors that influence faculty actions: A study on faculty responses to academic dishonesty. International Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 1(1), 1–21.

Curtis, G. J., & Vardanega, L. (2016). Is plagiarism changing over time? A 10-year time-lag study with three points of measurement. Higher Education Research & Development, 35(6), 1167–1179.

Fallon, F. (2008, March). Plagiarism and students from Asia studying in Australia and New Zealand. Paper presented at the 2008 APAIE Conference, Japan.

Foster, A. L., & Read, B. (2006, November 3). Community-college professors grapple with web trends. The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved from

Fundamental values of academic integrity (1999). Center for Academic Integrity. Retrieved from

Graves, S. M., & Austin, S. F. (2008). Student cheating habits: A predictor of workplace deviance. Journal of Diversity Management, 3(1), 15–22.

Griffin, D. J., Bolkan, S. & Goodboy, A. K. (2015). Academic dishonesty beyond cheating and plagiarism: Students’ interpersonal deception in the college classroom. Qualitative Research Reports in Communication 16(1), 9–19.

Gross, E. R. (2011). Clashing values: Contemporary views about cheating and plagiarism compared to traditional beliefs and practices. Education, 132(2), 435–440.

Hard, S. F., Conway, J. M., & Moran, A. C. (2006). Faculty and college student beliefs about the frequency of student academic misconduct. Journal of Higher Education, 77(6), 1058–1080.

Harris, R. (2012, February 28). Anti-plagiarism strategies for research papers. Retrieved from

Hendricks, E., Young-Jones, A., & Foutch, J. (2011). To cheat or not to cheat: Academic dishonesty in the college classroom. LOGOS: A Journal of Undergraduate Research, 4, 68–75.

Hinman, L. M. (2002) Academic integrity and the World Wide Web. ACM SIGCAS Computers and Society, 32(1), 33–42.

Hofstede, G. (2001). Culture’s consequences: Comparing values, behaviors, institutions and organizations across nations (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Hofstede, G., & Hofstede, G. J. (2005). Cultures and organizations: Software of the mind (2nd ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.

Hosney, M., & Fatima, S. (2014). Attitude of students towards cheating and plagiarism: University case study. Journal of Applied Sciences 14(8), 748–757.

Howard, R. M. (2000). The ethics of plagiarism. In M. A. Pemberton (Ed.), The ethics of writing instructions: Issues in theory and practice, (pp. 78–89). Stamford CT, USA: Ablex.

Howard, R. M. (2002) Don’t police plagiarism: Just teach! Education Digest, 67(5), 46–50.

Hughes, T. A., Butler, N. L. Kritsonis, W. A., & Herrington D. (2007). Cheating in examinations in two Polish higher education schools. The Lamar University Electronic Journal of Student Research, 4(Spring).

Jalal-Karim, A. (2013). Academic dishonesty, crucial threats without a real deterrent: Measuring major motivators affecting cheating among students in Middle East universities. International Journal of Innovation and Knowledge Management in Middle East and North Africa, (2)1, 71–89.

Kerkvliet, J., & Sigmund C. L. (1999). Can we control cheating in the classroom? Journal of Economic Education, 30(4), 331–343.

Khan, Z. R. (2010). E-cheating in the UAE: a critical review of existing literature. Proceedings of the 2010 International Conference on E-Learning, E-Business, Enterprise Information Systems, & E-Government, EEE 2010, USA, 320–324.

Kolker, R. (2012, September 16). Cheating Upwards: Stuyvesant kids do it. Harvard kids do it. Smart kids may especially do it. But why? New York. Retrieved from

Konheim-Kalkstein, Y. L., Stellmark, M. A., & Shilkey, M. L. (2008). Comparison of honor code and non-honor code classrooms at a non-honor code university. Journal of College and Character, 9(3), 1–13.

Leonard, V., & LeBrasseur, R. (2008). Individual assignments and academic dishonesty – Exploring the learning conundrum. The Australian Educational Researcher, 35(1), 37–56.

Levy, E. S., & Rakovski, C. C. (2006). Academic dishonesty: A zero tolerance professor and student registration choices. Research in Higher Education, 47(6), 735–754.

Lin, C. H. S., & Wen, L. Y M. (2007). Academic dishonesty in higher education: A nationwide study in Taiwan higher education. Higher Education, 54(1), 85–97.

McCabe, D. L. (2005). Cheating among college and university students: A North American perspective. International Journal of Educational Integrity, 1(1), 1–11.

McCabe, D. L., Feghali, T. T., & Abdallah, H. (2008). Academic honesty in the Middle East: Individual and contextual factors. Research in Higher Education, 49(5), 451–467.

McCabe, D. L., Trevino, L. K., & Butterfield, K. D. (1999). Academic integrity in honor code and non-honor code environments: A qualitative investigation. Journal of Higher Education, 70(2), 211–234.

McCabe, D. L., Trevino, L. K., & Butterfield, K. D. (2001). Cheating in academic institutions: A decade of research. Ethics & Behavior, 11(3), 219–232.

McNeilage, A., & Visentin, L. (2014, November 12). Students enlist MyMaster website to write essays, assignments. The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved from

Miller, M. J. (2012, December 28). Cyber plagiarism: A new kind of cheating. Santa Maria Times. Retrieved from

Moon, J. (2006). Academic honesty, plagiarism and cheating: A self-instruction unit for postgraduate students. Retrieved September 15, 2017, from

Moussly, R. (2010, December 27). University cracks whip on cheating. Gulf News. Retrieved from

Moussly, R. (2012, August 18). Student cheating is a serious problem in the UAE, academic says. Gulf News. Retrieved from

O'Malley, B. (2016, January 13). Cheating by international students rampant at British universities, says newspaper. Retrieved from

O’Rourke, J., Barnes, J., Deaton, A., Fulks, K., Ryan, K., & Rettinger, D. A. (2010). Imitation is the sincerest form of cheating: The influence of direct knowledge and attitudes on academic dishonesty. Ethics and Behavior, 20(1), 47–64.

Orosz, G., Farkas D., & Roland-Lévy, C. (2013). Are competition and extrinsic motivation reliable predictors of academic cheating? Frontiers in Psychology, 87(4).

Ossai, M. C., Ethe, N., Okwuedei, C. A., & Edougha, D. E. (2014). Development of examination behavior inventory: An integrity measure for prevention of cheating in school exams. World Journal of Education, 4(2), 37–49.

Owunwanne, D., Rustagi, N., & Dada, R. (2010). Students’ perceptions of cheating and plagiarism in higher institutions. Journal of College Teaching & Learning, 7(11), 59–68.

Passow, H. J., Mayhew, M. J., Finelli, C. J., Harding, T. S., & Carpenter, D. D. (2006). Factors influencing engineering students’ decisions to cheat by type of assessment. Research in Higher Education, 47(6), 643–684.

Pickering, J., & Hornby, G. (2005). Plagiarism and international students: A matter of values difference. Paper presented at the ISANA 2005 Conference, Christchurch, New Zealand.

Rabi, S. M., Patton, L. R., Fjortoft, N., & Zgarrick, D. P. (2006). Characteristics, prevalence, attitudes, and perceptions of academic dishonesty among pharmacy students. American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education, 70(4), 1–8.

Razek, N. A. (2014). Academic integrity: A Saudi student perspective. Academy of Educational Leadership Journal, 18(1), 143–154.

Rettinger, D. A., & Kramer, Y. (2009). Situational and personal causes of student cheating. Research in Higher Education, 50(3), 293–313.

Risquez, A., O’Dwyer, M., & Ledwith, A. (2011). Technology enhanced learning and plagiarism in entrepreneurship education. Education + Training, 53(8/9), 750–761.

Shabandri, M. (2015, April 1). ‘E-cheating’ rife among students in the UAE, shows survey. The Khaleej Times. Retrieved from

Shariffuddin, S., & Holmes, R. J. (2009). Cheating in examinations: A study of academic dishonesty in a Malaysian college. Asian Journal of University Education, 5(2), 99–124.

Sharma, P., & Maleyeff, J. (2003). Internet education: Potential problems and solutions. International Journal of Educational Management, 17(1), 19–25.

Sieber, J. E. (2005). Misconceptions and realities about teaching online. Science & Engineering Ethics, 11(3), 329–340.

Simkin, M. G., & McLeod, A. (2010). Why do college students cheat? Journal of Business Ethics, 94(3), 441–453.

Smith, A. (2015, August 11). Students at Sydney University use impersonators to sit their exams. The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved from

Smyth, M. L., & Davis, J. R. (2003). An examination of student cheating in the two-year college. Community College Review, 31(1), 17–32.

Strom, P. S., & Strom, R. D. (2007). Cheating in middle school and high school. The Educational Forum, 71(2), 104–116.

Swan, M. (2014, July 3). 80 per cent of university students admit to cheating, UAE study finds. The National. Retrieved from

Teixeira, A. A. C., & Rocha, M. F. (2008). Academic cheating in Spain and Portugal: An empirical explanation. International Journal of Iberian Studies, 21(1), 3–22.

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (2016). Education for people and planet: Creating sustainable futures for all (Global Education Monitoring Report). Retrieved from

Vandehey, M., Diekhoff, G., & LaBeff, E. (2007). College cheating: A twenty-year follow-up and the addition of an honor code. Journal of College Student Development, 48(4), 468–480.

Wangaard, D. B., & Stephens, J. M. (2011). Academic integrity: A critical challenge for schools. Excellence & Ethics, (Winter), 1–2.

Wasley, P. (2006). Review blasts professors for plagiarism by graduate students. The Chronicle of Higher Education, 52(41), A13.

Witherspoon, M., Maldonado, N., & Lacey, C. H. (2012). Undergraduates and academic dishonesty. International Journal of Business and Social Science, 3(1), 76–86.

Wowra, S. A. (2007). Moral identities, social anxiety, and academic dishonesty among American college students. Ethics & Behavior, 17(3), 303–321.
How to Cite
Ahmed, K. (2018). Student Perceptions of Academic Dishonesty in a Private Middle Eastern University. Higher Learning Research Communications, 8(1), 16–29.