The Current Landscape Of Contract Cheating - Higher Education Academy Workshop at Birmingham City University

50 %
50 %
Information about The Current Landscape Of Contract Cheating - Higher Education Academy...

Published on March 13, 2014

Author: ThomasLancaster



This talk, presented at the Higher Education Academy Contract Cheating workshop at Birmingham City University on 13 March 2014, provides training on what contract cheating is and examples of how this differs from plagiarism. Different methods used by students to have outsourced work produced for them are provided. A brief overview into the research looking at the extent and costs of contract cheating is provided.

The Current Landscape Of Contract Cheating Contract Cheating Within The Computing Discipline Workshop

By the end of the workshop, attendees should be familiar with: The concept of contract cheating in academia and why this is a problem for academic integrity How contract cheating differs from traditional cheating methods, such as plagiarism Examples of contract cheating Some of the main research results in the emerging field of contract cheating Methods that can be used when development assessments for students which make contract cheating difficult or impossible for them Techniques that can be used to monitor and detect when students are contract cheating and much more… Workshop Objectives

You are encouraged to ask questions and to discuss this workshop with your colleagues! Special Note

What Is Contract Cheating?

Contract Cheating occurs when students have academic work created on their behalf, which they then claim as their own… Contract Cheating

What Does Contract Cheating Look Like?

Assignment from ―Mass Media and Society‖ course at Widener University, Philadelphi Example from Published February 6, 2014

The photo is French philosopher Gilles Deleuze. Deleuzienne is recorded as having completed 594 assignments successfully

What Did It Cost? Paid $130 through a competitive bidding process for a five page paper (plus cover page and references)

Rated Rated A- by Dwight Dewerth-Pallmeyer, Widener University Paper did not raise any red flags using Turnitin

Don‘t Need An Essay?

Contract Cheating And Plagiarism

Plagiarism is usually defined as: ―taking the words or ideas of another and using them without acknowledgement or permission‖ Within academia, many would also claim that there should be an ―attempt to deceive‖, although this is often a tough area of academic judgement Plagiarism

A student borrows an assignment that a classmate completed last year. She hands it in for academic credit. It is a good assignment and she passes. Examples Of Plagiarism (1)

Two students work together on a chemistry experiment to collect data. The students then take the data and write up their own report. Examples Of Plagiarism (2)

A student writes a report on marine environments. The student has English as a second language and relies heavily on fragments of text from Google to complete the essay, although he does provide a web link for each one. Examples Of Plagiarism (3)

In all of these cases, a source can be identified for each copied document: The report from the previous year The source data The source web pages A source is often required for a university to consent to hear a cheating case. In each case, appropriate academic steps can now be taken… Plagiarism Is Findable…

What is the source for a piece of assessed work created by contract cheating? By its nature, contract cheating is work written to order for a particular student. It is as original as work submitted by any other student on that assignment. But… it is not the work of the student – so it should not result in them gaining academic credit… (or depriving another student from a job they deserve) Contract Cheating Is Not Findable...

Contract Cheating Sources

Opportunities for students to contract cheat are all around. Some of these need to be looked for, others come to them. Some opportunities are paid. Some are even free. And, it is possible to get high quality work very cheaply. Where Do Cheats Go?

Essay mills are not a new concept. The availability of the Internet has made e-commerce access to essay writing services easier. There are legitimate reasons to use writing services Ghostwriters for published books Production of web content for search engine optimisation purposes Essay writing services can be based worldwide A student may buy from a UK site, but this may be written by a non-native English speaker. Essay writing services don‘t just write essays You can get lots of different types of coursework from them. Cheats #1 – Essay Writing Services

These come, go and change so regularly, that any attempt to list all these services is pointless. A search for ―essay writing‖ in Google will reveal hundreds of examples. Essay writing services range from one-person companies, to those which employ hundreds of writers. Often, the same service promotes itself under multiple names for marketing reasons. List Of Essay Writing Services Not Just Web Sites

Very common, particularly in some cultures. Students who studied this last year (previous experience) Students who are studying this year (two for the price of one) Family members (sense of obligation) May be free or paid Cheats #2 – Friends And Family

Ghostwriter for a large essay writing service. Below is from a live web chat. Q: how did you come to this job? A: Very naturally. When I was in college, all I wanted to do was write. There were so few meaningful outlets for this much less paying outlets. But my classmates sought me out and offered me money to write for them. . . once word of my services spread through the fraternities, I was in business. How Ed Dante Got Started

A lot of students now make use of private tutors Compared with university fees, this modest investment can be a good one Plenty of tutors around for Maths and Science subjects Common in STEM Tuition can be over the Internet Screen sharing technology Can be much cheaper than home tuition Cheats #3 – Private Tutors

How much of the work is the student doing? How much of the work is the tutor doing? Where is the dividing line? Problems With Private Tutors

Services exist for proof reading and copy editing. They can take a poor piece of work from a student – and leave it in an excellent standard. Universities often offer these services (Academic Support Centres), or they can be found externally. Some copyediting services are explicitly focused towards students. Many offer copyediting as a wider service for any kind of commercial writing. Cheats #4 – Copyediting Services

These auction style sites largely started originally as outsourcing sites for computer contractors to find work online: Create a program Make a website Develop a database Can be used legitimately by small businesses to get work done. Now also include all sorts of other services: Report writing Graphic design Also used by students for contract cheating! Cheats #5 – Agency Sites

The person requiring a service (the buyer) posts a bid request: This describes the project and how much the buyers wants to pay. Contractors ask questions and bid to complete the service. Contractors compete on price, but also quality through a Ratings system The buyer chooses a contractor and pays for the work. The funds are placed in escrow. The contractor completes the work. The product is released to the buyer and the funds to the contractor. ―Work for hire‖ has been completed. The Typical Auction Process A Good Research Project?

Study From The Guardian (6 May 2008). Asked for a Computer Science homework on (formerly 11 bids in under 1 hour, 38 bids in 2 days. Worldwide, everywhere from Vietnam to the USA (chosen). Required price between $10 and $40. "I would have given the program code element of the coursework about 50%‖. Robert Clarke, Birmingham City University. What Do You Get?

Of course, students can use all kinds of other methods to find people to write cheaply for them. Classified sites and online forums are good examples. Cheats #6 – Reverse Classifieds


What Can Students Cheat On?

Thomas Lancaster and Robert Clarke, from Birmingham City University, have circulated many examples of attempts at contract cheating they‘ve found. Including cases where academics have tried hard to prevent plagiarism. Examples include: A huge variety of academic disciplines (STEM and elsewhere) and countries worldwide. Final Year Projects and other assignments, submitted piece-by-piece. Requests for software, essays, web sites and presentations. Many assignment specifications are susceptible to contract cheating. Exhaustive List…

From Ed Dante (ghostwriter) web chat. Q: we generally believe that engaging students in the PROCESS of writing (i.e. they submit research questions, an annotated list of sources, an outline, a draft—all over several weeks time) that instances of academic dishonesty will decline significantly. from your experience, does that ring true? how often have you been contracted to fabricate the whole process prewriting, drafting, revising, etc.? A: This does not prevent cheating. Quite to the point, I have been engaged in this exact 'process' more times than I can count over the course of these last few years. I have completed many an assignment from proposal to final draft. Staged Assignments Not Answer

Contract Cheating Research

A number of studies have been carried out into the contract cheating phenomena. Academic studies Media studies These investigate the extent of contract cheating and the quality of work produced. Contract Cheating Studies

The term ―Contract Cheating‖ was first coined during two studies by Robert Clarke and Thomas Lancaster, published in 2006. The studies focused on an analysis of postings to the RentACoder agency site (now part of to identify and trace assignment specifications. Contract Cheating Background s05.pdf

The first study exhaustively checked 803 bid requests over a 3 work period to see if these represented student assignments. 99 out of 803 (12.3%) of bid requests were identified as contract cheating attempts. This suggests that contract cheating contributes to a substantial amount of vWorker‘s income. Use Of Agency Sites

A second study identified 236 users who had placed contract cheating requests on RentACoder over a 2 month period. A check of those users previous bid requests revealed the following results: 1. 122 out of 236 users (51.7%) had placed between 2 and 7 bid requests, suggesting frequent (―habitual‖) use of this site. 2. 6 out of 236 users (2.5%) has placed 51 or more bid requests. This suggested that these users were subcontractors. Contract Cheating Site Users

A subsequent 2007 study by Lancaster and Clarke focused primarily on 910 bid requests on RentACoder. All of the bid requests were made in the time period March 2004 to December 2006, and all were in the Computing discipline. 231 out of 910 (25.4%) bid requests were made by UK based users. 75 out of 352 (21.3%) of institutions identified worldwide were in the UK. Contract Cheating In Computing conf/Papers/Thomas%20Lancaster%20final.pdf

Within the Computing discipline, the following types of assignments were identified from UK posts: 1. 52 out of 231 (22.5%) bid requests represented programming in the Java language. 2. 22 out of 231 (9.5%) bid requests were for Final Year Projects – many of which asked for work to be completed in stages. Types Of Assignments Outsourced

A 2012 study by Lancaster and Clarke tracked 627 assignment requests placed over 5 months on EssayBay. Top subjects identified included (1) Business and Admin Studies, (2) Social Studies, (3) History and Philosophical Studies and (4) Subjects Aligned to Medicine. Work was identified at all levels from undergraduate to PhD proposal level. Contract Cheating On EssayBay conference/Computing1/Thomas_Lancaster_Robert_Clarke.pdf

Is Contract Cheating Good Value?

In 2005, Charles Oppenheim, of Loughborough University, got three of his students to outsource a 1500 word written-to- order essay on copyright law. Prices ranged from £135 to £205. Oppenheim marked the essays at 42%, 55% and 58%. All below the 60% (2:1) standard. One essay contained elements plagiarised from a paper in an academic journal. Essay Writing Services

―We are sometimes asked to write at an overseas student level and the mistakes are done on purpose. We have thousands of essays at different levels and attaining different grades from fail to distinction. The client gets what he/she orders.‖ Essays-r-us Response essays.html

Tony Jenkins and Stuart Helmore from the University of Leeds conducted a 2006 study of agency sites, buying computer source code for various first year programming assignments Study funded by HEA-ICS Development Fund. RentACoder and GetACoder used. Assignments were cheap. First assignment cost £8.91 and £16.12. Final task cost just £4.74. The student was marked in class (sometimes twice!) They were not caught, and achieved good marks. Computer Code 23.pdf

The Daily Mail identified Xenia on RentACoder (―more like an escort girl than an academic‖) for $30 (£16.25) to write an ‗A‘ Level essay on George Orwell‘s 1984. Xenia from near Manila in the Philippines. Local average daily wage £3 (so over 1 week‘s wages). Offered to write in the style of the author. Other bids in the region of $20 to $100 Included a Romanian who had won several national literature awards. One writer even sent across an essay unsolicited - and just asked for $20 if it was used. Using Agency Sites For Essays

A 2013 study by Robert Clarke and Thomas Lancaster took a sample of 336 jobs posted by intermediary contractors on These cost an average of $101.40. Current Pricing

Producing Assignments

The Chronicle of Higher Education completed an investigation working with a ghostwriter and looking inside the essay mill. Operates internally much like an auction site. Students submit work. BestEssays provides the details to its pool of writers, who choose jobs to take on. Students pay $19.99 to $42.99 a page. The site is duplicated under multiple names and web site addresses. Appears based in the USA, but actually based in Manila in the Phillipines. On site workers paid $1 to $3 per page. Other writers paid from ―a few‖ to $40 per page, depending on company and subject. Inside The Essay Mill Essay/32817

James Robbins 30 years old. Started writing to pay for tuition at Lamar University, Texas. Writes 10 pages per hour. Charles Parmenter 54 years old. Formerly a police officer and lawyer. Writes nursing, business and English Literature papers. Has been told his papers are too good ―My professor will never believe it‘s me‖. Typical took home pay of around $1,000 per month. US Writer Profiles

Research Analysis

Contract cheating can be good value… Much depends on the sophistication of the student and the sites they use. Students are often technically more sophisticated than staff. Auction sites and private arrangements possible. Standard of work can vary. Excellent work is suspicious! Potential exists for subject specific research studies into contract cheating. Consider extent of contract cheating in the discipline, quality of work produced and the range of sources used by students. Research Findings

Any Questions?

Add a comment

Related presentations

Related pages

Contract cheating - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

... at the University of Central England in Birmingham (now known as Birmingham City ... Workshop on Contract Cheating ... Higher Education Academy ...
Read more

Higher education | Education | The Guardian

The higher education green paper ... see universities that rank high on ... government cuts to education and the ending of University Maintenance ...
Read more


Higher Education Academy, Innovation Way, York Science Park, Heslington, York, YO10 5BR, United Kingdom ...
Read more

News - The Chronicle of Higher Education

Current Issue; Archives; Global; ... Lehman College of The City University of N ... Copyright © 2015 The Chronicle of Higher Education ...
Read more

Commercial aspects of contract cheating

Birmingham City University, ... The process of contract cheating, ... A Computing Perspective In Proceedings Of 8th Annual Higher Education Academy ...
Read more

Thomas Lancaster | LinkedIn

3rd Annual Higher Education Academy ... for the detection of contract cheating. Authors: Thomas Lancaster, ... Birmingham City University. ...
Read more

Birmingham City University | LinkedIn

View 44714 Birmingham City University posts, ... Birmingham, United Kingdom. Higher Education. See more. Current
Read more

Higher Education Jobs | Guardian Jobs

Find the latest higher education jobs to view and apply for now with Guardian Jobs. To have a job in higher education sent to you the day it's posted, be ...
Read more