How Prevalent is Contract Cheating and to What Extent are Students Repeat Offenders?
- 475 Downloads
Contract cheating, or plagiarism via paid ghostwriting, is a significant academic ethical issue, especially as reliable methods for its prevention and detection in students’ assignments remain elusive. Contract cheating in academic assessment has been the subject of much recent debate and concern. Although some scandals have attracted substantial media attention, little is known about the likely prevalence of contract cheating by students for their university assignments. Although rates of contract cheating tend to be low, criminological theories suggest that people who employ ghostwriters for their assignments are likely to re-offend, and little is known about re-offence rates in this form of academic misconduct. We combined previously-collected datasets (N = 1378) and conducted additional, and previously-unreported, analyses on self-report measures of contract cheating prevalence. We found that few students (3.5%), on aggregate, ever engaged in contract cheating but this varied substantially among samples (from 0.3% to 7.9%). Of those who ever engaged in contract cheating, 62.5% did so more than once. The data also suggested that engagement in contract cheating is influenced by opportunity. These figures may help policy makers, and researchers who are creating contract cheating detection methods, to estimate base rates of contract cheating and the likelihood of re-offence.
KeywordsContract cheating Ghostwriting Prevalence Plagiarism Academic integrity
- Afroz, S., Islam, A. C., Stolerman, A., Greenstadt, R., & McCoy, D. (2014). Doppelgänger finder: Taking stylometry to the underground. In: 2014 I.E. Symposium on Security and Privacy (pp. 212-226). IEEE. doi: 10.1109/SP.2014.21
- Bailey, J., Tomar, D., & Chu J. (2012). Paying for plagiarism. http://go.turnitin.com/webcast/paying-for-plagiarism Accessed 24 August 2016.
- Budd, T., Sharp, C., & Mayhew, P. (2005). Offending in England and Wales: first results from the 2003 Crime and Justice Survey. London: Home Office.Google Scholar
- Clare, J. (2016). Rational, motivated students and suitable units: Detecting suspected ghost-writing of unsupervised written assignments. Paper presented at the 29th Australian and New Zealand Society of Criminology conference, Hobart, Australia.Google Scholar
- Clarke, R., & Lancaster, T. (2006). Eliminating the successor to plagiarism: Identifying the usage of contract cheating sites. Proceedings of the Second International Plagiarism Conference. Gateshead: United Kingdom.Google Scholar
- Curtis, G. J., & Vardanega, L. (2016). Is plagiarism changing over time? A 10-year time-lag study with three points of measurement. Higher Education Research & Development, 35, 1167–1179. doi: 10.1080/07294360.2016.1161602.
- Felson, M., & Clarke, R. V. (1998). Opportunity makes the thief: Practical theory for crime prevention, Police research series, paper 98. London: Home Office.Google Scholar
- Maxwell, A. J., Curtis, G. J., & Vardanega, L. (2006). Plagiarism among local and Asian students in Australia. Guidance & Counselling, 21(4), 210–215.Google Scholar
- McCabe, D. L. (2005). Cheating among college and university students: A north American perspective. International Journal for Educational Integrity, 1(1). doi: 10.21913/IJEI.v1i1.14.
- McNeilage, A., & Visentin, L. (2014, November 12). Students enlist MyMaster website to write essays, assignments. The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved from http://www.smh.com.au Accessed 13 October 2015
- Stamatatos, E., Daelemans, W., Verhoeven, B., Stein, B., Potthast, M., Juola, P., ... & Barrón-Cedeño, A. (2014). Overview of the Author Identification Task at PAN 2014. In CLEF (Working Notes) (pp. 877–897).Google Scholar
- Visentin, L. (2015). MyMaster essay cheating scandal: More than 70 university students face suspension. The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved from http://www.smh.com.au Accessed 23 August 2016