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.
During Plagiarism Across Europe And Beyond 2019, I presented a new study examining the extent of contract cheating across different discipline areas.
There will be a full paper based on this data, but you can see some of the highlights as they were shared during the talk. The slides I used are available on my SlideShare account. The slides are also included below.
The paper considered the demand for contract cheating services, based on requests posted online by students across multiple previous studies. These noted that the extended area of Business attracted substantial contract cheating requests.
New data presented looked at the online visibility of contract cheating service marketing across 19 main discipline groups, as identified by the UK’s Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA). This showed that, although essay mills are already visible in search engine results, most disciplines show several opportunities for further essay mill exploitation.
The visibility of discipline specific contract cheating advertising is surely something that search engines, such as Google, need to address with their algorithms. They should aim to ensure that students looking for help online receive useful information rather than links to essay mills.
My recent research has focused on the companies and writers who are fueling the contract cheating industry.
The Plagiarism Across Europe And Beyond Conference 2019 provided me with the opportunity to update the audience with my latest research in the area. This was focused on changes on the way in which the use of the Fiverr.com marketplace is used by writers, with comparative research from 2016 and 2018 presented.
The slides I used are available on my SlideShare account. They are also included below.
As the slides show, the supply of essay writing labour on Fiverr.com has increased. At the same time, the pricing of essays has dropped substantially, potentially making this more affordable to students.
A full paper based on this area is in review, giving more observations on the underlying data analysis. There is a lot more data on sites like Fiverr.com that is ripe for analysis and which will provide more evidence about the scale of essay mill operation and the continued development of the contract cheating industry.