The State Of Academic Integrity In Europe – Council Of Europe Ukraine Conference

I’ve been lucky enough to present in some interesting places recently which have been looking to make a difference in their academic integrity processes. One of those was in Kiev, Ukraine, where I was one of the main external presenters at an event organised by the Council of Europe and attended by senior university officials.

You can see the slides used in the presentation on my SlideShare account. They are also embedded below.

When I arrived at Kiev Airport, I was greeted by signs regarding corruption and to say no to it, so it’s clear that there are attempts to make a difference here. It is always going to be a challenge because of the wider expectations within the area about how the system will operate.

The discussion I was involved with focused on the wider issues of academic integrity, particularly thinking about this from a research perspective instead of something that just involved students. There were also a lot of discussions about the wider political challenges going on in the area. The session also included details of our SEEPPAI research work.

There’s clearly very good work going on throughout Ukraine and it’s also a pleasure to be involved with far reaching projects like this.

Academic Integrity – What Does This Term Mean For Students?

Here are the slides for a workshop on academic integrity that I gave to students at the University of Montenegro.

You can see the slides for the workshop on my SlideShare account. They are also embedded below.

The session focused on why academic integrity is important for students with a number of examples included of areas that would not be considered to represent this. One of the areas that’s emerged from my research into cheating in South East Europe as particularly important is exam cheating, so several examples relating to this were included.

I do feel that it’s important to have frank discussions with students about unacceptable behaviour and to raise awareness about why academic integrity is important. It’s already important to many students and sessions like this help to get other students on board.

Student Plagiarism – What Is It? And What Should We, As Academics, Do About It?

The workshop for which the slides are included below was particularly interesting for me, as it was the first workshop for some time that I’d delivered focusing on the issue of student plagiarism, rather than the much more specific problem of contract cheating.

You can see the slides for the plagiarism workshop on my SlideShare account. They are also embedded below.

To me, this is an important reminder that there are many staff who need advice about how to design plagiarism opportunities out of their assessments. This seems to be particularly the case for new staff who are just entering the lecturer ranks.

Much of the good practice recommendations for setting assessments that make plagiarism difficult also hold for contract cheating. It continues to be important for staff to set fresh assignments every time to remove the temptation for students to cheat, yet some staff still do not seem to be doing this. But staff should also be aware about how easy it would be for students to outsource some types of assignments.

We will continue to need workshops on plagiarism prevention, contract cheating and all types of academic integrity.

Contract Cheating And The Essay Writing Industry – Where Does The Money Go

Some of the recent contract cheating work that I’ve been engaged with and have found to be the most interesting has been looking at the marketing funnels behind contract cheating services.

These funnels are increasingly elaborate. It’s no longer enough for an enterprising individual to set up a website offering to write essays for students. The successful sites now look closely at how students will find their website, they pay big commissions to the affiliates who send them traffic and they plug into existing services designed to write essays rather than need to employ their own writers.

I explored a lot of these issues in my talk about contract cheating at the International Center For Academic Integrity Inaugural Mediterranean Conference, held in Athens, Greece.

You can see the slides for the presentation on my SlideShare account. They are also embedded below.

It is really interesting to look at all of the different individuals who are getting a piece of the money paid by a student to a contract cheating service. In many cases, only a small proportion of this goes to a writer. There’s certainly much more work on contract cheating supplier, essay mills and marketing that I hope to complete (and more formally publish) in the future.

Contract Cheating and Academic Misconduct in Examinations and Tests

The format of the Higher Education Academy STEM Conference changed rather this year from previous years, with the submission of papers becoming the submission of an abstract and the presentation of a set of slides.

This change worked out well for me, as it allowed me to present an overview of an important area that Robert Clarke and I have been working on – the people who are paying money to cheat on exams. There is some scope to work this into a full paper, but it will be challenging to make it work in a traditional style. Many of the examples of contract cheating in exams aren’t easily found or available to the public, so although we can show it exists, our database of exam cheating examples is limited in number. The presentation format allowed me to work the exam cheating issue into an example filled talk.

The slides for the HEA STEM Conference talk are available for access online. These can be viewed on my SlideShare account, or you can also see the slides below.

In the talk, I looked at some of the challenges facing the examination assessment method, particularly where impersonators are hired to take exams on behalf of students, or online exams are taken by a third party. There were comments raised expressing surprise about how cheaply such cheating could be done, provided the right worker was hired to help with the job.

There was a lot of post talk discussion (as well as tweeting) about the role that technology now plays in student cheating. Wearable computing is becoming a particular issue, with students having access to minute mobile devices allowing them to communicate with the outside world through pictures or audio. Exactly what equipment students are allowed to take into the exam room with them needs to be carefully considered and the items brought in do now need to be checked.

There was also some interesting discussion about the sites available for students to sell their completed work to, forming a database of “model” answers available to other students to purchase. Although I’d hope that these would be detected by Turnitin, there was discussion about whether these sites should exist and whether students had the rights to sell their work in this way.

A good chat about regulations was included and some of the difficulties of putting cheating cases forward were discussed. I was reminded of the need to ensure that attempting to cheat and attempting to outsource work are both unacceptable in university regulations. I was also reminded of how some cases, particularly those of exam impersonation, can actually lead to criminal charges. Cheating in exams is most certainly not recommended!

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