Cheating in academics has a host of effects on students, on teachers, on individual schools, and on the educational system itself.

For instance, students who engage in neutralisation to justify cheating, even once, are more likely to engage in it in the future, potentially putting them on a road to a life of dishonesty. Indeed, one study found that students who are dishonest in class are more likely to engage in fraud and theft on the job when they enter the workplace. Students are also negatively affected by academic dishonesty after graduation. A university diploma is an important document in the labor market. Potential employers use a degree as a representation of a graduate's knowledge and ability. However, due to academic dishonesty, not all graduates with the same grades actually did the same work or have the same skills. Thus, when faced with the fact that they do not know which graduates are skilled and which are the "lemons" (see The Market for Lemons), employers must pay all graduates based on the quality of the average graduate. Therefore, the more students who cheat, getting by without achieving the required skills or learning, the lower the quality of the average graduate of a school, and thus the less employers are willing to pay a new hire from that school. Because of this reason, all students, even those that do not cheat themselves, are negatively affected by academic misconduct.

Academic dishonesty also creates problems for teachers. In economic terms, cheating causes an underproduction of knowledge, where the professor's job is to produce knowledge. Moreover, a case of cheating often will cause emotional distress to faculty members, many considering it to be a personal slight against them or a violation of their trust. Dealing with academic misconduct is often one of the worst parts of a career in education, one survey claiming that 77% of academics agreed with the statement "dealing with a cheating student is one of the most onerous aspects of the job."

Academic misconduct can also have an effect on a college's reputation, one of the most important assets of any school. An institution plagued by cheating scandals may become less attractive to potential donors and students and especially prospective employers. Alternatively, schools with low levels of academic dishonesty can use their reputation to attract students and employers.

Ultimately, academic dishonesty undermines the academic world. It interferes with the basic mission of education, the transfer of knowledge, by allowing students to get by without having to master the knowledge. Furthermore, academic dishonesty creates an atmosphere that is not conducive to the learning process, which affects honest students as well. When honest students see cheaters escape detection, it can discourage student morale, as they see the rewards for their work cheapened. Cheating also undermines academia when students steal ideas. Ideas are a professional author's "capital and identity", and if a person's ideas are stolen it retards the pursuit of knowledge.

If never formally retracted, fraudulent publications can remain an issue for many years as articles and books remain on shelves and continue to be cited. The case of S. Walter Poulshock, a 1960s early-career historian whose work was found to contain wholly fabricated material, was exposed in 1966 with the American Historical Review providing a warning on the topic. Nonetheless, his book was never removed from the shelves of many university libraries and (together with his related thesis) was still being cited in 2013, 47 years after it was intended to have been withdrawn by its publisher.

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