Prevalence of Different Types of Cheating in School and Academic Studies in Iran: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis


1 Internist, Assistant Professor of Internal Medicine, Department of Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, Mashhad University of Medical Sciences, Mashhad, Iran.

2 Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine, Department of Emergency Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, Mashhad University of Medical sciences, Mashhad, Iran.

3 MA of Educational Adminstration, Department of Education, Zarand Branch, Islamic Azad University, Kerman, Iran.

4 MA of Educational Adminstration, Department of Education, Kerman Branch, Kerman, Islamic Azad University, Iran.

5 Master of Operating Room, Department of Operative Room and Anesthetics, School of Paramedical, Sabzevar University of Medical Sciences, Sabzevar, Iran.

6 MA of clinical Psychology, Department of Psychology, Kerman Branch, Islamic Azad University, Kerman, Iran.

7 Student Research Committee, Kerman University of Medical Sciences, Kerman, Iran.



Background: The education system and society suffer huge costs because of cheating. It is important to address this phenomenon since the cheating person often transfers this inappropriate behavior into working environments after graduation. Moreover, the motivation to avoid cheating decreases in honest people. The present review investigated the prevalence of cheating on academic and school examinations and projects.
Materials and Methods: In this systematic review and meta-analysis, English electronic databases, including PubMed, Scopus, Web of Science, and Cochrane Library were searched with no time and language limitation up to December 2020. Main keywords were (Cheating OR Plagiarism OR Dishonesty) AND (College OR student OR School OR Exam). Meta-analysis was carried out using the Comprehensive Meta-Analysis software (CMA).
Results: Six studies involving 1474 subjects were included in the study. The overall cheating frequency regardless of cheating type was 68% (95% CI: 54-79%; heterogeneity: I2: 96%), and 87% (95% CI: 36- 98%; heterogeneity: I2: 96%) of students had experienced cheating at least once during an examination, and 64% (95% CI: 49-76%; heterogeneity: I2:97%) during the academic period. Frequency of plagiarism in writing theses and essays was 51% (95% CI: 9.6- 91%; heterogeneity: I2: 97 %:). According to one study, female students reported significantly lower acts of cheating than male students.
Conclusion: The results show that the average of cheating in examinations, projects and dissertations is higher than average. Given the results, it is necessary to minimize the cheating behavior among students through the necessary training, creating stricter rules, imposing more penalties on offenders, and preventing competitive behaviors in the classroom.