Contract Cheating: The Outsourcing of Assessed Student Work

Reference work entry

Abstract

This chapter reviews the issues associated with contract cheating, loosely defined as the outsourcing of student work to third parties. The chapter is intended to serve as an overview of current research while also providing practical instruction and guidance to academics and educators.

The discussion begins by introducing contract cheating and comparing this specific form of academic misconduct with student plagiarism. The suggestion is made that current anti-plagiarism methods are not suitable for contract cheating, defined as where a student is requesting an original bespoke piece of work to be created for them. Six types of services that students can use to have work produced for them are listed; these are (1) essay writing services; (2) friends, family, and other students; (3) private tutors; (4) copyediting services; (5) agency websites; and (6) reverse classifieds. Specific challenges associated with each service are provided.

Findings related to the wider contract cheating area are given. This includes particular discussion of the research into agency sites, where a student makes the offer of work available to a large number of people who then bid to complete it. The student selects one of the bidders to complete the work based on a form of cost-benefit analysis. Issues considered include the extent of contract cheating, the cost and quality of outsourced work, and the range of subjects in which students are cheating.

The chapter concludes with a discussion of the main methods that can be used to prevent contract cheating. Research into technical solutions, such as stylometrics, put in place to find automated technical solutions to detect contract cheating, is also presented.

Keywords

Private Tutor Academic Integrity Cheat Behavior Open Educational Resource Agency Site 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

References

  1. Bartlett, T. (2009). Cheating goes global as essay mills multiply. Chronicle of Higher Education, 55(28), A-1.Google Scholar
  2. Brooks, C., & Ammons, J. (2003). Free riding in group projects and the effects of timing, frequency, and specificity of criteria in peer assessments. Journal of Education for Business, 78(5), 268–272.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Clarke, R. (2008). List of sites associated with contract cheating. http://cboard.cprogramming.com/attachments/brief-history-cprogramming-com/8927d1242763399-contract-cheating-680_workshop_list.pdf. Retrieved 24 April 2015.
  4. Clarke, R., & Lancaster, T. (2006). Eliminating the successor to plagiarism? Identifying the usage of contract cheating sites. In Proceedings of 2nd plagiarism: Prevention, Practice and Policy Conference 2006. Newcastle, UK: JISC Plagiarism Advisory Service.Google Scholar
  5. Clarke, R., & Lancaster, T. (2007). Establishing a systematic six-stage process for detecting contract cheating. In Proceedings of the 2nd International Conference on Pervasive Computing and Applications (ICPCA07), Birmingham, UK.Google Scholar
  6. Clarke, R., & Lancaster, T. (2013). Commercial aspects of contract cheating. In Proceedings of 8th Annual Conference on Innovation and Technology in Computer Science Education (ITiCSE 2013), Canterbury, UK.Google Scholar
  7. Cogdell, B., & Aidulis, D. (2007). Dealing with plagiarism as an ethical issue. In T. Robert (Ed.), Student plagiarism in an online world: Problems and solutions. Hershey: Idea Group Inc.Google Scholar
  8. Contract cheating special interest group [Online community]. (n.d). https://www.jiscmail.ac.uk/cgi-bin/webadmin?A0=CONTRACTCHEATING. Retrieved 24 April 2015.
  9. Coughlan, S. (2012). How do you stop online students cheating? [News story]. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-19661899. Retrieved 24 April 2015.
  10. Culwin, F. (2008). Inverse authorship attribution [Presentation slides], Higher education academy contract cheating workshop. http://www-new1.heacademy.ac.uk/assets/Documents/subjects/ics/contractcheating_inverse_authorship_attribution.pdf. Birmingham, UK. Retrieved 24 April 2015.
  11. Culwin, F., & Lancaster, T. (2001). Plagiarism issues for higher education. Vine, 31(2), 36–41.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Essaybay.com. (n.d.). http://essaybay.com. Retrieved 24 April 2015.
  13. Fenn. M. (2014). Inside the black market for college homework [News story]. http://dailydot.com/lifestyle/college-professors-black-market-paper. Retrieved 24 April 2015.
  14. Freelancer. (n.d.). http://freelancer.com. Retrieved 24 April 2015.
  15. Google alerts. (n.d.). http://www.google.com/alerts. Retrieved 24 April 2015.
  16. Hersey, C. (2013). The business of online plagiarism in post-secondary education. In Proceedings of world conference on educational multimedia, hypermedia and telecommunications, Victoria.Google Scholar
  17. Jenkins, T., & Helmore, S. (2006). Coursework for cash: The threat from online plagiarism. In Proceedings of 7th annual higher education academy conference in information and computer sciences. Dublin: Higher Education Academy.Google Scholar
  18. Koumantaris, G. (2011). Contract cheating – The hidden trend in computer science education. In Proceedings of WORLDCOMP’11 – The 2011 world congress in computer science, computer engineering, and applied computing, Las Vegas.Google Scholar
  19. Lancaster, T. (2003). Effective and efficient plagiarism detection. Ph.D. thesis, London South Bank University, UK.Google Scholar
  20. Lancaster, T. (2004). A comparison of visual techniques for plagiarism detection in student source code submissions, In Proceedings of EE2004 Engineering Education Conference, Innovation, Good Practice and Research in Engineering Education, Wolverhampton, UK.Google Scholar
  21. Lancaster, T. (2013a). The application of intelligent context-aware systems to the detection of student cheating. In Proceedings of 3rd International Workshop on Intelligent Context-aware Systems (ICAS 2013), Taichung.Google Scholar
  22. Lancaster, T. (2013b). The contract cheating saga of crazylarry23 [Blog post]. http://thomaslancaster.co.uk/blog/the-contract-cheating-saga-of-crazylarry23. Retrieved 24 April 2015.
  23. Lancaster, T. (2013c). The threat of contract cheating – Examining the “paid for” assignment solutions unduly populating the computing discipline [Presentation slides]. http://www.slideshare.net/ThomasLancaster/the-threat-of-contract-cheating-examining-the-paid-for-assignment-solutions-unduly-populating-the-computing-discipline-university-of-west-london-22-november-2013-28520825. Ealing, UK. Retrieved 24 April 2015.
  24. Lancaster, T. (2013d). The use of text matching tools for the prevention and detection of student plagiarism. In P. Dias & A. Bastos (Eds.), Plagiarism phenomenon in Europe: Research contributes to prevention. Portugal: Braga.Google Scholar
  25. Lancaster, T. (2014a). More exams the way to beat cheats buying contract essays [News story]. http://theconversation.com/more-exams-the-way-to-beat-cheats-buying-contract-essays-32399. Retrieved 24 April 2015.
  26. Lancaster, T. (2014b). Prevention, detection and policies in contract cheating [Presentation slides]. Higher education academy workshop. http://www.slideshare.net/ThomasLancaster/prevention-detection-and-policies-in-contract-cheating-higher-education-academy-workshop-at-birmingham-city-university. Birmingham, UK. Retrieved 24 April 2015.
  27. Lancaster, T. (2014c). The current landscape of contract cheating [Presentation slides]. Higher education academy contract cheating workshop. http://www.slideshare.net/ThomasLancaster/contract-cheatingcomputingdiscipline-currentlandscape. Birmingham, UK.
  28. Lancaster, T. (2014d). Winning the contract cheating battle [Presentation slides]. http://www.slideshare.net/ThomasLancaster/winning-the-contract-cheating-battle-university-of-sheffield-2-december-2014. Sheffield, UK.
  29. Lancaster, T., & Clarke, R. (2007a). Assessing contract cheating through auction sites – A computing perspective. In Proceedings of 8th Annual Higher Education Academy Conference In Information and Computer Sciences. Southampton, United Kingdom: Higher Education Academy.Google Scholar
  30. Lancaster, T., & Clarke, R. (2007b). The phenomena of contract cheating. In T. Robert (Ed.), Student plagiarism in an online world: Problems and solutions. Hershey: Idea Group Inc.Google Scholar
  31. Lancaster, T. & Clarke, R. (2008). How to succeed at cheating without really trying: Five top tips for successful cheating. In Proceedings of 9th Annual Conference of the Subject Centre for Information and Computer Sciences, Liverpool, UK.Google Scholar
  32. Lancaster, T., & Clarke, R. (2009). Contract cheating in UK higher education: Promoting a proactive approach [Presentation slides]. The third one-day event on institutional policies and procedures for managing student plagiarism. http://www.brookes.ac.uk/aske/documents/Plagiarism09_LancasterClarke.pdf. Oxford, UK. Retrieved 24 April 2015.
  33. Lancaster, T., & Clarke, R. (2010). Staff-led individualised assessment – A case study. In Proceedings of 11th Annual Higher Education Academy Conference in Information and Computer Sciences. Durham, UK: Higher Education Academy.Google Scholar
  34. Lancaster, T., & Clarke, R. (2012). Dealing with contract cheating: A question of attribution. In Proceedings of 1st Annual Higher Education Academy Conference in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. London, United Kingdom: Higher Education Academy.Google Scholar
  35. Lancaster, T., & Clarke, R. (2014a). An initial analysis of the contextual information available within auction posts on contract cheating agency websites. In Proceedings of International Workshop on Informatics for Intelligent Context-Aware Enterprise Systems (ICAES 2014), Victoria.Google Scholar
  36. Lancaster, T., & Clarke, R. (2014b). An observational analysis of the range & extent of contract cheating from online courses found on agency websites. In Proceedings of 8th International Conference on Complex, Intelligent and Software Intensive Systems (CRISIS 2014), Birmingham, UK.Google Scholar
  37. Lancaster, T., & Clarke, R. (2014c). Using Turnitin as a tool for attribution in cases of contract cheating; In Proceedings of 3rd Annual Higher Education Academy Conference in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. Edinburgh, UK: Higher Education Academy.Google Scholar
  38. Lancaster, T., & Culwin, F. (2004). A visual argument for plagiarism detection using word pairs. In Proceedings of 1st Plagiarism: Prevention, Practice and Policy Conference. Newcastle, UK: JISC Plagiarism Advisory Service.Google Scholar
  39. Lavin, S. (2014). Local 6 confronts man for helping students cheat for cash [News story]. http://www.clickorlando.com/news/local-6-confronts-man-helping-students-cheat-for-cash/25825182. Retrieved 24 April 2015.
  40. Levinson, H. (2005). Internet essays prove poor buys [News story]. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/4420845.stm. Retrieved 24 April 2015.
  41. Matthews, D. (2013). Essay mills: University course work to order [News story]. Times Higher Education, 10 Oct 2013.Google Scholar
  42. McCabe, D., & Trevino, L. (1993). Academic dishonesty: Honor codes and other contextual influences. Journal of Higher Education, 64(5), 522–538.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. MP to raise essay-writing firm concerns. (2014). [News story]. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-sussex-29109975
  44. O’Malley, M., & Roberts, T. (2012). Plagiarism on the rise? Combating contract cheating in science courses. International Journal of Innovation in Science & Mathematics Education (formerly CAL-laborate International), 20(4).Google Scholar
  45. Owings, S., & Nelson, J. (2014). The essay industry. Mountain Plains Journal of Business and Economics, General Research, 15.Google Scholar
  46. Rentacoder.com. (n.d). http://rentacoder.com. Retrieved 24 April 2015.
  47. Rigby, D., Burton, M., Balcombe, K., Bateman, I., & Mulatu, A. (2015). Contract cheating and the market in essays. Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, 111, 23–37.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Ruiz, A. (2014). Secret world of cheaters [News story]. http://www.wnct.com/story/25468950/secret-world-of-cheaters
  49. Stavisky, L. (1973). Term paper mills, academic plagiarism, and state regulation. Political Science Quarterly, 88(3), 445–461.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Stevenson, D. (2010). How schools beat the net cheats [News story]. PC Pro. http://www.pcpro.co.uk/features/355597/how-schools-beat-the-net-cheats/4#ixzz2ivUq6nef. Retrieved 24 April 2015.
  51. Sutherland-Smith, W. (2008). Plagiarism, The Internet, and student learning: Improving academic integrity. London, UK: Routledge.Google Scholar
  52. Transtutors (n.d.). http://www.transtutors.com. Retrieved 24 April 2015.
  53. Trushell, J., Byrne, K., & Simpson, R. (2012). Cheating behaviours, the internet and education undergraduate students. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 28, 136–145.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Turnitin.com (n.d.). http://turnitin.com. Retrieved 24 April 2015.
  55. Unemployed Professors. (n.d.). http://unemployedprofessors.com. Retrieved 24 April 2015
  56. Walker, M., & Townley, C. (2012). Contract cheating: A new challenge for academic honesty? Journal of Academic Ethics, 10(1), 27–44.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Wallace, M., & Newton, P. (2014). Turnaround time and market capacity in contract cheating. Educational Studies, 40(2), 233–236.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Wellman, N., & Fallon, J. (2012). Investigating academic malpractice within an MBA marketing module. International Journal for Educational Integrity, 8(1).Google Scholar
  59. Wieder, B. (2011). Pace university researchers work on new way to stop online cheating [News story]. Chronicle of Higher Education, 20 May 2011.Google Scholar
  60. Yakovchuk, N., Badge, J., & Scott, J. (2011). Moving beyond plagiarism detection towards a culture of academic integrity. Journal for Excellence in Teaching and Learning, 2(1), 63–76.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Singapore 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Computing, Telecommunications and NetworksBirmingham City UniversityBirminghamUK

Personalised recommendations