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Can An Honor Code Prevent Cheating at Harvard?

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (AP) — Harvard University has never had a student honor code in its nearly 400-year history — as far as it knows. But allegations against 125 students for improperly collaborating on a take-home final in the spring are leading to renewed consideration of the idea.

Formal honor codes are hard to implement and fairly rare on American campuses. But some would argue they’re especially important at places like Harvard that are wellsprings of so many future leaders in government and business.

Donald McCabe of Rutgers University is an expert on academic cheating. He puts the number of schools that go beyond such rules with some sort of formal honor code at no more than about 100.

Research dating back 40 years shows lower rates of cheating on campuses with honor codes. Still, such numbers show codes aren’t a guarantee, and he says they won’t work everywhere.

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