Contract Cheating in Health Courses (Unpublished Paper)

Here is an unpublished full paper that was otherwise gathering virtual dust on my hard drive.

Examining Contract Cheating, Essay Mill Use and Academic Misconduct by Students on Health Courses – from 2015 – Thomas Lancaster and Robert Clarke
(Full Text including PDF Download on ResearchGate)

I originally wrote this in 2015 based on a talk that Robert Clarke and I delivered. The problem of contract cheating in health and nursing education was prominent then and I have addressed this in subsequent talks and on this blog.

The paper was never submitted for publication, as the conference I was originally aiming this at didn’t run and I haven’t subsequently seen the right outlet. Looking back at the paper with 2018 eyes, it would need a substantial rewrite to fit suitably into the current academic integrity climate. This would include updating the sources and examples, so that it was substantially a new paper.

Due to this, I am providing the original unpublished paper here as drafted in the hope that it may be useful to researchers instead.

Abstract

When students obtain academic awards in the health industry that they do not deserve, they may emerge unfit for professional practice. This paper explores the challenges posed by academic misconduct in public-facing health fields, such as nursing and medicine. Specifically, the paper explores contract cheating, where students employ a third party or ghostwriter to complete assessed work. The problem appears more crucial in health than some other academic disciplines, since here fitness for practice is important and human lives may be at stake.

The paper argues about the importance of academic integrity in health through multiple examples. This includes showcasing media cases where medical professionals have been put in positions which their skills did not warrant and giving three specific examples of attempts by students to cheat that have been detected online. The examples demonstrate that such contract cheating starts before students arrive at university. This misconduct continues throughout their academic career up to postgraduate level. The overall findings in this field support the view that contract cheating is habitual and repeated regularly by some students.

Several sources are used to show that contract cheating in health is amongst the most popular subjects that students cheat on. Other examples show that original essays and assessments can be purchased by students for affordable prices. These essays will not be detected as unoriginal by Turnitin. The paper concludes by arguing that increased academic pressure is needed to change the wider health culture that is affording contract cheating.

There is still a need for research in this field. In particular, this includes gathering more data and implementing subject specific solutions. I would like to look back at this area again as time and opportunities permit.

I’m always open to speak on contract cheating and essay mill use in health education (you can contact me here).

 

 

 

An Exploration of Contract Cheating and Academic Misconduct Within Health Education

One of the more interesting inter-disciplinary topics I’ve been involved with is that of cheating in healthcare. This covers examples that we’ve found in our research, ranging across nursing, pharmacy, medicine and other health disciplines.

I got the chance to present some of the findings from that research at a talk that formed part of the Pedagogies, Practitioners and Identities in Education Conference 2015. This conference was held at Birmingham City University, with a particular focus in both the health and education disciplines.

The slides for the talk are available for access. These can be viewed on my SlideShare account, or viewed below.

In the talk, I shared several examples of what cheating in health and nursing looks like. This includes examples from essay mills, term paper mills and other contract cheating sites. Generally, original work produced by an external writer is hard to tell apart from original work produced by a student.

The talk closed with a lively and interesting discussion, mainly from the nurses in attendance. I got the impression that cheating in nursing education was not considered at all unusual by them, with examples given of both students committing plagiarism and contract cheating. It was an issue that they considered serious, particularly due to the implications of fitness for practice required for nursing careers.

During the research process for this talk, I found several new examples relating to the wider essay industry, the types of ghostwriters that are being employed and how they are trained to mass produce assessed academic work. I look forward to sharing this research when the right opportunity arises.

Nursing Essays and Nursing Essay Mills – A Word Cloud Exploration

Here’s a visual word cloud representation of what I talked about in the video for Examining The Ease Of Buying Nursing Essays Online Through Essay Mills And Contract Cheating Sites.

Word Cloud Generated From Automatic Transcript Of Nursing Essay Training

The word cloud was created from the automatic transcription generated for the video by YouTube.

The transcription wasn’t completely accurate, as it messed up quite a few phrases and made a terrible job with people’s names. To be expected, I suppose. There are also a few words in small text in the word cloud which weren’t used in the video. But the general summary and relative importance of the more common words used looks pretty accurate.

It would be an interesting student project or programming project to look at automating the process of turning YouTube videos into word clouds. I wonder if the results would throw up any new ideas, methods to explore videos, or visualisation opportunities?

Examining The Ease Of Buying Nursing Essays Online Through Essay Mills And Contract Cheating Sites

The question about the cheating that goes on in nursing and medicine education has come up frequently in the dealings I’ve had with print, radio and TV media. The reasons for this are understandable. Everyone wants to know that the nurses treating them are qualified and capable of providing safe and suitable care.

Whilst the nurses had reason to associate with have been hard working and a credit to their profession, there is an underclass of potential nurses who do resort to cheating and plagiarism. The wider research I’ve been involved in with Robert Clarke has shown a wide range of services appearing to help students. Many of these services are optimised purely to help nurses, including essay mills and contract cheating sites offering to write nursing essays and produce nursing assignments.

I explore many of these cheating sources that some nursing students are using, along with discussing the wider implications, in this training video.

You can also access this training video and other research presentations on the YouTube account for Thomas Lancaster. The slides on nursing essay cheating can be browsed on SlideShare here.

The whole area of cheating in nursing and health education is one that we’re continuing to explore, particularly in relation to contract cheating, where students are paying third parties to complete assignments for them. The methods that nursing essay mills use to market their services are of interest, as are the reasons why students resort to using these sites to bypass their education but still consider that they will be fit to practice.

Thoughts on the issues relating to cheating and nursing education are welcome and stay tuned for more training, research and discussions in these areas.