Since I am currently teaching a Junior/Senior-level course on Business Ethics, this topic is quite interesting and somewhat timely. There will likely be two results of my current situation. Specifically, I will likely

  • Make multiple entries, as my thinking is still evolving.
  • Assume the vantage point of business education and professional development of working professionals

Is cybercheating really different than any other form of plagiarism or cheating?

What is “cybercheating” according to the article provided?

How can we prevent cybercheating and other similar types of plagiarism?

Is cybercheating anything new? And, what is cybercheating.

 Alas, upon reading a book review of Richard Posner’s book, The Little Book of Plagerism (Bailey, 2007)[1], my thought that I had a novel idea was quickly dashed..

Both Posner and I came to the same conclusion but via avenues. As a judge, Posner’s analysis was based upon legal precedent. In contrast, my analysis was based upon my training in human and societal development.

Without seeming too presumptive, I think we would agree that plagiarism today, in all its forms, is merely a developmental outgrowth (i.e., manifestation of previous demonstrations) of the same behavior that has appeared for several decades, if not over a century.  I would say that each of the references cited, as well as the others, not included in this analysis, would like cyberplagariasm would include but not be limited to any and all demonstrations where someone else’s intellectual property is used to answer test question, written responses, term papers, performance portfolios, etc.

Since I can’t speak for Posner, plagiarism is at its core the inappropriate use of someone else’s intellectual property. Given his legal training, Posner, according to Bailey, goes even further: Posner calls plagiarism as a manifestation of “fraud”.

Slater (2014) indicates that cheating also occurs in f2f and similar teaching formats. According to the author, it appears most frequently in most technical and business disciplines.

In the business school environment, faculties report that plagiarism and related practices remain rampant. For example, both the Hult Business School Archives (2013) and in the abstract for McCabe’s 2009 article in the Harvard Business Review[2] pronounce that success (e.g., high paying jobs at prestigious corporations) at any cost fosters cheating, in all of its manifestations.

I’d go so far as to suggest that in addition to the “publish or perish” notion in academic environment, the theft of intellectual property extends far beyond academia. A great popular media example is the 1990’s film “Working Girl”. [N.B. While I have never been a “working girl”  I have actually experienced intellectual property theft several times in my career.]

Is there a cure for cybercheating?

Whether in the workplace or in school, I’ve come to consider redefine the behavior as “cyberpiracy”: it is the practice of taking someone else’s work product by some sort of legal (e.g., paying for it) and/or illegal manner.

Perhaps, I am a bit sanguine, but honor codes just don’t cut it. In my own classes with Millenials, students think that these codes are a joke.

Also, to me cybercheating is like hacking or creating a computer virus. As soon as one remedy is found, at least two more workarounds appear.

In some cases, cybercheating, like other forms of academic dishonesty:

1) has malicious intent (e.g., getting a great grade),

2) may be pure ignorance. This situation can perhaps be remedied

3) presents cheating as a game where the payoff is not get caught. That to me is the most egregious.

I am reminded when I was pursing my Masters, a fellow student, who was very bright and competent was expelled from the program because he literally copied a professional journal article, verbatim. In my f2f classes, I call out students who use words and phrases that I know are not part of their regular vocabulary.

Essentially, the remedies and solutions suggested by Rowe (n.d.) as well as Thomas and Sassi (2011), are at best bandaids. My approach with f2f classes is to create assignments tests where cheating is evident. Am I always successful? No.  However, I am a bit philosophical. I do the best I can and can’t carry that person’s losses.

Bailey, Jonathan. Book Review: The Little Book of Plagiarism Plagiarism Today , January 23, 2007.

Hult Business School Archives 2013.

McCabe, Donald, MBA’s Cheat, But Why? Harvard Business Review, April, 2009. HTTPS://HBR.ORG/2009/04/MBAS-CHEAT-BUT-WHY.HTML   (Abstract)

Slater, Harry, Distance Learning Can Make Plagiarism and Cheating Harder to Spot. The Guardian, http://www.the

Thomas, Ebony Elizabeth and Kelly Sassi. An Ethical Dilemma: Talking about Plagiarism and Academic Integrity in a Digital Age. English Journal, 100.6 (2011), pg 47-53

RE: Cybercheating?

Top of Form

Upon rereading my resopnse to the third question, I think that I talked around, but not to the issue. In essence, the vehicles and techniques for cybercheating et al, are ever evolving; they are like the carnival game, “Whackamo”.

Once again waxing philosophic, I will never catch up to the students who want to cheat, my goals are to find ways to 2) minimize the theft of intellectual property, irrespective of how it is .accomplished and 2) call-out the individuals and make known, within the limits of school policies, the consequences when the behavior is exhibited.


[1] As I was unable to get a copy of the Posner’s book in time to complete these questions, my comments are based upon others’ analyses. I have however disclosed all the sources for these statements.

[2] Again, I was unable to access the entire article.Bottom of Form


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