Instilling the need for academic honesty into Hong Kong university students: how well are we doing?

Joseph Wu, Wing Hong Chui, Anthony Yau, Ming Tak Hue

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review


All public-funded Hong Kong universities have explicit practices to promote integrity and prevent students’ academic dishonesty. Using the Behaviour Change Wheel as a conceptual framework, three common practices were analysed in the present study, namely, enforcement of policies to penalize dishonest acts, use of plagiarism detection software, and mandatory attendance at academic honesty workshops. Qualitative data were collected from 50 students (in 14 focus groups) and individual interviews with 18 faculty members from eight publicly-funded universities in Hong Kong. Content analyses reveal that, although the students and faculty staff endorsed punishment as an effective intervention to reduce motivation to cheat, they also believed it would not enhance motivation for honest behaviours. Plagiarism detection software might reduce opportunities to plagiarize, but students with dishonest motivations will only turn to harder-to-trace means to cheat. While demonstrating good concepts of academic honesty, a sign that academic honesty education was working, the students attributed dishonest motivation to insufficient capability to perform academic tasks, which they described as a common problem. Both students and staff opined that the solution lies in more responsive learning support and pedagogical enhancement, but that it is constrained by university policies.

Original languageEnglish
JournalAsia Pacific Journal of Education
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • academic dishonesty
  • Academic honesty
  • plagiarism
  • plagiarism detection software
  • teaching and learning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education

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