Birmingham City University holds a research conference, Rescon, in December of each year, providing short accessible shorts from staff and PhD students about their research.
My session built on work presented to the Higher Education academy looking at how text matching algorithms supplied by Turnitin could be used as part of the attribution of contract cheating. This is the challenging process where a request to have assessed work completed can be found online, but the academic institution to which the work is associated is hard to identify.
The talk led to a wide-ranging discussion about wider aspects of contract cheating, plagiarism and academic misconduct. There was clearly a lot of local interest in the use of Turnitin and the associated training as well as the reasons that students cheat and how that could be avoided.
The group also had a discussion about translation plagiarism. Although I did undertake some initial research on this a few year’s ago, this is still a problem and needs to be the topic of continued research. Several academics believed that they had seen attempts to cheat by taking work and automatically translating it into different languages. The actual behaviour that I have previously observed and researched is more subtle and this may also be something that I discuss in more detail on this site in the future.
This is the second of two talks I delivered on contract cheating at a Birmingham City University workshop funded by the Higher Education Academy.
The focus of this talk was on three areas for people considering what to do about contract cheating: prevention, detection and policy. Several of the slides are prompt led and this generated a lot of discussion.
Some universities do still struggle to keep their academic integrity policies up-to-date, or these are only reviewed every few years. Such an approach is dangerous in a world where technology can rapidly change the cheating landscape.
There is also the policy question about where contract cheating begins. Does this start when a student submits work that they have outsourced, or is the mere request to outsource work the starting point. Personally, I favour the latter point, but many policies require the student to have completed the process and submitted bespoke work created by another person, which can be challenging to prove.
This is a different talk on contract cheating to the ones that I normally deliver, as this was part of a general training workshop for contract cheating funded by the Higher Education Academy.
This is the first of two talks I delivered that day (Bob Clarke also contributed an activity). The focus was particularly on the ways that students are cheating, looking at plenty of examples other than agency sites and Freelancer.com, and considering several seminal research studies in the field (most of which I’ve been involved with).
One of the most interesting discussions was about the use of proof reading to support students during their courses, particularly international students. One university had just introduced a policy on proof reading. This is a thorny issue, with a thin dividing line before where proof reading stops and cheating beyond an acceptable level begins. There are lots of further research possibilities within that area.
One of the biggest challenges I’ve had recently is condensing some of the research highlights behind contract cheating into a talk timed to last just 10 minutes, for Birmingham City University’s RESCON conference.
This talk looked particularly at the pricing of essays, based around our own research as well as collaborations with the external media, including Times Higher Education. The focus of the session was particularly on essays, and covered topics outside Computing, so as to appeal to the multidisciplinary nature of RESCON.