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.
The slides, also available on SlideShare account for Thomas Lancaster, are the result.
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.
Contract cheating still poses a threat within the Computing discipline, although our observations are that this has expanded widely into other academic disciplines, particularly Business Studies, and including at MBA level.
These slides are from a recent research seminar delivered at University of West London, and contain new examples relating to the costs associated with contract cheating, and the many solutions available to people with technical skills to aim to prevent and detect this type of academic misconduct.
The slides, also available on SlideShare account for Thomas Lancaster, are included here.
I was pleased to find out from the PhD students in attendance that they had no wish to follow in the footsteps of the private tutor mentioned in the talk, who, after gaining their PhD, was advertising to complete work on behalf of students.
The idea of using stylometrics to potentially detect when work was not written by the student indicated created a lot of interest, and that is certainly an area that would benefit from continued exploration.
At the 2013 HEA STEM Conference, we held an introductory meeting for the Special Interest Group in contract cheating. Although the group is primarily aimed at the Computing discipline, the group is not discipline specific and should be of interest to all areas.
A short presentation was held to kick off the session and the slides (hosted on SlideShare account for Thomas Lancaster) are included here.
One thing that I did for the slides was that I chose a live example of contract cheating (a request for an Information Systems student project found at Freelancer.com). Unfortunately, no-one was able to attribute this during the session, so this remains in the slides as an activity for anyone interest.
We also briefly shared some new success at using TurnItIn to find details of assignments, thanks to students starting to include their assignment specification along with the work they uploaded for marking.
The session finished with delegates discussing some of the good practice they use to prevent contract cheating. This included staff who were able to get to know their students and question them on anything amiss, as well as various staged submission types. However, methods to circumvent these checks were also shared.
As always, there was a sense of surprise around the room that this type of cheating was happening, meaning that continued discussion about contract cheating is needed.
The mailing list for the HEA Contract Cheating Special Interest Group can be joined here.
All academics, regardless of the level of the student, need to be aware that some students may take short cuts when producing academic work.
These slides (from my SlideShare account) outline five different indicators that work submitted may not all be the student’s own.
Many times, what you find when marking work will just be an indicator that something is out of place. This can lead to a more thorough search by hand.
TurnItIn, and other similar tools, are excellent as starting points, but often a specific Google search can identify parts of the web that are hidden to TurnItIn, so this approach is particularly useful.
What other indicators do academics use? Have you found any interesting plagiarism cases using indicators? Use the Comments box to share your findings.