Journal of Academic Ethics

, Volume 10, Issue 1, pp 27–44 | Cite as

Contract cheating: a new challenge for academic honesty?

  • Mary Walker
  • Cynthia TownleyEmail author


‘Contract cheating’ has recently emerged as a form of academic dishonesty. It involves students contracting out their coursework to writers in order to submit the purchased assignments as their own work, usually via the internet. This form of cheating involves epistemic and ethical problems that are continuous with older forms of cheating, but which it also casts in a new form. It is a concern to educators because it is very difficult to detect, because it is arguably more fraudulent than some other forms of plagiarism, and because it appears to be connected to a range of systemic problems within modern higher education. This paper provides an overview of the information and literature thus far available on the topic, including its definition, the problems it involves, its causal factors, and the ways in which educators might respond. We argue that while contract cheating is a concern, some of the suggested responses are themselves problematic, and that best practice responses to the issue should avoid moral panic and remain focussed on supporting honest students and good academic practice.


Ethics Academic honesty Plagiarism Contract cheating 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Philosophy DepartmentMacquarie UniversitySydneyAustralia

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