Using Turnitin As A Tool For Attribution In Cases Of Contract Cheating

A small success from our contract cheating work. We’ve found a way to improve on percentage of assignments found on agency sites which we’re able to attribute to academic institutions.

The secret? We’ve taken to running difficult to attribute assignment specifications through Turnitin, the plagiarism detection engine. It sounds counter-intuitive, but these often identity with fragments of work submitted by students.

All the details are in a paper from the HEA STEM Conference 2014, but the talk below, which I used at the conference, provides a few extra examples of interest

You can also check out this talk, and many slides from my other contract cheating sessions on my SlideShare account).

The conference format changed this year, which provided us with lots of time for discussion. The idea of contract cheating was new to some of the delegates and we went through a lot of examples, but we also talked about the future developments within student cheating and the issues associated with MOOCs and distance learning assessment.

Lots of stuff to keep academics on their toes.

The Prevention And Detection Of Contract Cheating

This is the second of two talks I delivered on contract cheating at a Birmingham City University workshop funded by the Higher Education Academy.

The focus of this talk was on three areas for people considering what to do about contract cheating: prevention, detection and policy. Several of the slides are prompt led and this generated a lot of discussion.

The slides, also available on SlideShare account for Thomas Lancaster, are provided here.

Some universities do still struggle to keep their academic integrity policies up-to-date, or these are only reviewed every few years. Such an approach is dangerous in a world where technology can rapidly change the cheating landscape.

There is also the policy question about where contract cheating begins. Does this start when a student submits work that they have outsourced, or is the mere request to outsource work the starting point. Personally, I favour the latter point, but many policies require the student to have completed the process and submitted bespoke work created by another person, which can be challenging to prove.

The Current Landscape Of Contract Cheating

This is a different talk on contract cheating to the ones that I normally deliver, as this was part of a general training workshop for contract cheating funded by the Higher Education Academy.

This is the first of two talks I delivered that day (Bob Clarke also contributed an activity). The focus was particularly on the ways that students are cheating, looking at plenty of examples other than agency sites and Freelancer.com, and considering several seminal research studies in the field (most of which I’ve been involved with).

The slides, also available on SlideShare account for Thomas Lancaster, are provided here.

One of the most interesting discussions was about the use of proof reading to support students during their courses, particularly international students. One university had just introduced a policy on proof reading. This is a thorny issue, with a thin dividing line before where proof reading stops and cheating beyond an acceptable level begins. There are lots of further research possibilities within that area.

Cutting The Cost Of Custom Essay Writing – Examining The Financial Market Behind Contract Cheating

One of the biggest challenges I’ve had recently is condensing some of the research highlights behind contract cheating into a talk timed to last just 10 minutes, for Birmingham City University’s RESCON conference.

The slides, also available on SlideShare account for Thomas Lancaster, are the result.

This talk looked particularly at the pricing of essays, based around our own research as well as collaborations with the external media, including Times Higher Education. The focus of the session was particularly on essays, and covered topics outside Computing, so as to appeal to the multidisciplinary nature of RESCON.

The Threat Of Contract Cheating – Examining The Paid For Assignment Solutions Unduly Populating The Computing Discipline

Contract cheating still poses a threat within the Computing discipline, although our observations are that this has expanded widely into other academic disciplines, particularly Business Studies, and including at MBA level.

These slides are from a recent research seminar delivered at University of West London, and contain new examples relating to the costs associated with contract cheating, and the many solutions available to people with technical skills to aim to prevent and detect this type of academic misconduct.

The slides, also available on SlideShare account for Thomas Lancaster, are included here.

I was pleased to find out from the PhD students in attendance that they had no wish to follow in the footsteps of the private tutor mentioned in the talk, who, after gaining their PhD, was advertising to complete work on behalf of students.

The idea of using stylometrics to potentially detect when work was not written by the student indicated created a lot of interest, and that is certainly an area that would benefit from continued exploration.

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