Addressing Contract Cheating and Other Threats to Academic Integrity – Keynote Presentation at University of Wolverhampton

The world of contract cheating continues to progress. I was asked to speak about this for a keynote address at the University of Wolverhampton, which allowed me to bring together many of the latest findings in the contract cheating and academic integrity fields.

The slides I used are available on my SlideShare account. They are also included below.


During the presentation, I showed how easy how cheap and easy outsourcing is (you can see a video promoting the fictitious essay mill Werewolf Essays here). I also considered how contract cheating companies are now able to get their advertising out through university channels themselves, including university social media accounts.

The presentation was accompanied by lots of questions, including relating to the technology surrounding the academic cheating industry, which is becoming something of a trend at events like this now.

The Progression Of The Exam Cheating Industry – Conference Keynote Presentation On Exam Integrity

That companies and individuals are helping students to cheat in exams is something that higher education should be concerned about. This is not just small time business. Exam cheating is an entire industry.

In a keynote presentation I gave at the Higher Education Quality Network conference, themed Assessment, Integrity, Review and held in Melbourne, Australia, I explored the issues surrounding exam cheating and the integrity of future examinations.

This is a real issue, particularly where assessment by examination is being considered as a response to plagiarism and contract cheating. There is, however, also good practice than can be gained from how exams are conducted in a professional environment.

The slides I used are available on my SlideShare account. They are also included below.


So much exam cheating is supported by technology that is easily concealed. Supplying that technology is big business. It is more useful to think about alternative ways to use examinations as part of the assessment process than to try to simply react to the ever changing technology game.

Contract Cheating – What Do Those People Who Teach Need To Know?

The level of interest in contract cheating has changed beyond all recognition in the last year. Along with this, so has the volume of research being produced.

That makes it harder than ever to fit key insights into a one hour seminar.

My latest attempt to do this came with a session, aimed towards teaching staff, held at Deakin University.

The slides I used are available on my SlideShare account. They are also included below.


One fresh idea I did include was based around profiling students in order to help with an understanding of why they may be drawn towards contract cheating. In the entrepreneurial environment of higher education, where students are used to multi-tasking, this could be seen as more than just a means to an end.

Investigating Contract Cheating and Breaches of Academic Integrity

How to investigate contract cheating and what type of evidence is appropriate for an academic integrity hearing?

I explored this issue as part of a workshop held at Deakin University. It’s a university that is proactive in promoting academic integrity values to students and detecting contract cheating, but also knows that there are challenges in doing this fairly and consistently.

The slides I used are available on my SlideShare account. They are also included below.


As part of the presentation, I suggested twelve types of evidence that could be collected and taken to an academic integrity hearing. These are explored more in the slides (and were discussed), but these are:

1 – Writing style – is the consistent with other work by the student?
2 – Document properties – does the metadata suggest this was not produced by the student?
3 – Essay mill layout – is this presented perfectly, but with style over substance?
4 – Contextual concept – does this use ideas that the student would be unfamiliar with?
5 – Public websites – is the assignment specification on a freelancing website or viewable essay mill?
6 – Student mark profile – is there consistency between student performance in supervised and unsupervised environments, in similar tasks?
7 – Access logs – has the student accessed module resources in an expected way and from known locations? Have they accessed inappropriate resources from the university network?
8 – Turnitin report – is the similarity score too low? Does this indicate any surprises in the sources used?
9 – Authenticity viva – can the student discuss their work?
10 – Assessment production process – can the student show their interim work on demonstrate that they were working on the assignment over a period of time?
11 – Verification tasks – can the student complete a task based on their work in a controlled environment?
12 – Opportunity to own up – there can be advantages to everyone in allowing students to discuss their situation with an independent advisor and bypassing a formal hearing where students agree they have contract cheated.

A single one of these indicators may not be enough to be sure that a student has contract cheated, but several of them, used together, could provide appropriate evidence. All of this assumes that university policies and regulations allow these types of evidence to be used.

I concluded the workshop by suggesting that the design of assessment tasks which automatically allow for the collection of some evidence could be the way forward. Now, in an ideal world, this would never be used, but collecting evidence in this way can help to streamline the process, as well as to protect the majority of students who are acting with academic integrity.

The Only Titles You Need For Your Lectures, Presentations, Blog Posts And Academic Papers

..and the blog post tile I’ve chosen here is just linkbait.

You can go ahead and use the ideas in this post for your next journal paper submission, but chances are it will be rejected.

But catchy titles mean something. It’s why in the era of fake news, we click on things that seem unbelievable or which we don’t think could be true, just to find out we’ve been tricked and we’ve not.

I shared a set of catchy titles relating to plagiarism and several people asked how I generated them.

My favourite title is the first one, which is aimed at getting students interested.

Make Your Parents Proud By Learning Plagiarism

And, I can so easily imagine someone running with just that title (but hopefully not delivering on the promise).

A lot of it is about turning plagiarism on its head from what students expect.

Template Titles

You could use almost all of those titles, with slight modifications, to talk about other subjects.

Many work for academic integrity just as well as plagiarism.

You could say:

Make Your Parents Proud By Learning Academic Integrity

But it doesn’t have quite the same ring to it, does it?

There’s Big Money In Academic Integrity” might do better.

But, the fact is, most of these titles are generated from templates. If you look at what’s trending on a site like Buzzfeed, you’ll see the same patterns appearing in titles again and again.

And, so many of them have a number in the title somewhere. You can base your own title on that and you’re already well-positioned to get attention.

(and no, I don’t consider putting your own subject into a standarised title format to be plagiarism)

Title Generators

You can go one-step further.

Many of the titles that work most cleanly across different subjects (or niches) have been developed into title generators.

You just plug your subject in there and watch the generator spit out a whole load of titles until you see one you like (or one you like enough to modify a bit).

My experience is, you’re not likely to get anything exactly perfect from a title generator, but it’s pretty easy to take something they make, change it up and tidy the grammar.

Different generators work better for different subject, so it’s worth trying a few. Here are some that have worked for me:

http://www.title-generator.com | https://seopressor.com/blog-title-generator | https://www.hubspot.com/blog-topic-generator | https://www.portent.com/tools/title-maker

If you get more advanced, you can start using headline analysis as well to work out the emotional impact of your title. But that’s a more advanced marketing technique, particularly for academic work.

And, if you don’t want to use these titles for your next academic paper, that’s fine. You can always use them for the blog post to promote the paper instead.

Page 2 of 29«123456»1020...Last »