Contract Cheating – Not Just Fantasy

Had a hard day mining for gold and found yourself behind on your student assessments?

Don’t worry! That in-game virtual currency could be just what you need to have your course assignments completed for you.

Contract cheating opportunities appear in the most unlikely places. Thanks to Jack for pointing out the offers available through the Sythe gaming community.

Here, you could hire law graduate Swagdaddy71 who says they will use their experience rushing coursework from their own degree to help you with yours. Perhaps you could connect with Ozone#0231 on Discord, complete with vouches about the quality of the service they offer? Or maybe the UK/Canadian collaboration of Darth Corvus, who say they are providing more to you than just time to play games. And yes, there are even people helping with games development.

You can see a whole forum on Sythe devoted to “homework help”.

The take home? Contract cheating does happen and students will be exposed to it regardless what you tell them. The most important thing we can do is to address it, not stay silent.

I talk more about contract cheating through Sythe in this video.

Contract Cheating: The State of Research and Practice in 2020

What is the current state of research in the contract cheating field?

I was asked to deliver a guest seminar for the Academic Integrity Policies course taken by PhD candidates at Çanakkale Onsekiz Mart University in Turkey. That provided me with the opportunity to overview how the contract cheating research field has developed since 2006 and discuss what I consider to be current research challenges and opportunities in the field in 2020.

You can see the slides I used below (and also on my SlideShare account).


The video recording of the session is also available to watch on YouTube here.

I based the slides on ones I’ve used in my own Academic Integrity in STEMM module, taught to undergraduate students at Imperial College London, but tailored to meet the needs of the Çanakkale Onsekiz Mart University audience. I also gave a sneak peak to some of the other research I’m working on. It is good to see modules like this being developed, as there are very few of them in the world.

As the presentation notes, contract cheating research is still in its infancy and care needs to be taken as to how results are interpreted, but there are also many opportunities for new researchers to get involved and to develop local case studies. Most importantly, we need to consider how to promote academic integrity and address contract cheating, as well as how actively incorporate and involve students as partners in this discussion.

Combatting Contract Cheating: Training Staff in Your Institution – Webinar Slides

One area of contract cheating support that we need to think about further is how we train academic staff to address contract cheating. The UK’s Quality Assurance Agency asked me to discuss this on a webinar, with reference to the contract cheating guidance they released.

You can see the slides I used below (and also on my SlideShare account).


My focus for the presentation was on what needs to be covered during a staff development session, including understanding local processes and helping students to develop their own view of academic integrity.

If you’re interested in viewing the full webinar video, this is available from the QAA for Quality Insights Members.

As always, I’m happy to develop and deliver training for individual institutions in the UK or internationally. Feel free to contact me if you’d like to explore how we can work together.

The Business of Contract Cheating – Webinar Slides

Much of my recent research has focused on the contract cheating industry, the firms and individuals who help and encourage students to consider contract cheating.

As part of an event held as part of Ireland’s Academic Integrity Week on 22 October 2020 and supported by the National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, I was asked to talk about the business of contract cheating. It is a while since I’ve discussed this subject, so the presentation provided me with a great opportunity to bring my thoughts about the business processes together.

You can see the slides I used below (and also on my SlideShare account).


As I’ve mentioned many times, the knowledge many of these firms have about marketing and promotion far exceeds that in place within universities. That is how contract cheating providers are able to dominate the search engine rankings in many subjects.

The sheer number of people involved in the contract cheating process is often understated. Many firms and individuals take their cut of money along the way.

It is impossible to address contract cheating without considering that many firms and individuals now rely on this line of work to make a living. Writing assignments for students is just looked at as one of the next big entrepreneurial opportunities. If we don’t understand this, we can never put contract cheating interventions in place for the common good.

Yes, Contract Cheating Can Be Detected – Keynote Presentation Slides

I was invited to deliver the opening keynote for the Eighth Annual Congress of Academic Integrity held remotely for Universidad de Monterrey, Mexico on 24 September 2020. The theme I was asked to talk about was contract cheating detection, providing me with the opportunity to review the state-of-the-art in research and practice in this field.

You can see the slides I used below (and also on my SlideShare account).


Detecting contract cheating is far from a solved problem, but there are methods in development that will make it possible in several situations. The danger is that the contract cheating industry knows this too and is always ready to adapt.

As I mention in the presentation, I believe detection needs to combine human detection with technical support. But this is only one part of the wider puzzle regarding how we can best address contract cheating.

The video from the presentation is also available, which you can watch here.

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