Contract Cheating in Canada – Presentation From The International Day Of Action Against Contract Cheating

Wednesday 17 October 2018 marked the third International Day of Action Against Contract Cheating. This international series of events, designed to raise awareness and promote academic integrity, has got bigger every year.

I was thrilled to join the activity taking place at the University of Calgary, led by Sarah Eaton, to deliver a short opening keynote address for the event they held. Alas, I only joined remotely, so I didn’t get to visit, but I’m sure that will come in the future.

The slides I used are available on my SlideShare account. They are also included below.


Being a short presentation, I focused mainly of awareness raising, including examples of the scale of contract cheating in Canada and specific activity around Calgary. I also looked at the wide range of activity taking place as part of the International Day of Action, much of which is inspirational.

It is great to see so much attention being paid to the challenges raised by academic outsourcing.

Who Writes The Assignments For Our Students? Presentation From Plagiarism, Ethics, Pedagogy and Practices 2018

I was invited to accept the prime speaking slot at the Plagiarism, Ethics, Pedagogy and Practices 2018 conference, held in Stockholm, Sweden in August 2018. This conference is supported by URKUND and has been running for a few years now, although it is the first time I’ve been able to attend.

I took the opportunity to share what I know about the writers and other individuals who are working for essay mills and keeping the contract cheating business running. Previously on the blog, I’ve looked at the type of individuals taking essay mill writing jobs. I’ve done a lot more research since and have some papers going through review in this area, so this talk allowed me to give an updated overview, including 12 things you should know about academic writers for essay mills.

The slides I used are available on my SlideShare account. They are also included below.


With the essay industry becoming such a complex beast, the reasons why writers join the business remain varied. For many, it is a low paid profession, but still one that is desirable, with the opportunity to work from home on a flexible schedule. It remains a fascinating area.

Attributing Contract Cheating Through The Turnitin Text Matching Service

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 slides, can be accessed on my SlideShare account, or viewed below.

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.

Don’t Want To Write That Lecture?

For academics, this request seems like a very reasonable price to pay to get someone else to get someone else to prepare a set of “good enough” slides for you.

I had this example planned as a slide for one of my own research presentations, but with that presentation at 60 slides at present, this just wouldn’t have fit it.

I support I could have saved myself a lot of time and had other people outbidding themselves to produce that talk for me for just $6 (£3.71 according to Google). Even comparing the options and paying double that to get a competent worker involved, this would represent a good deal.

There’s certainly no excuse for academics to not have a set of slides prepared when you can get offers like that (9 bidders so far), although I’d recommend setting this type of auction up as a fixed price rather than paying by the hour. Of course, I don’t know if paying someone to create your slides would be ethical

What next? Get someone in to deliver the lecture (there are some that would argue that PhD students are already taken advantage of in that way…)?

Personally, I’m one of those people who has my own presentation style and likes to be very much in control of my own slides, but I see an increasing numbers of posts on agency sites like this one.

Developing Student Employability Through The Creation Of Online Professional Identitites

I attended and presented at a really useful Higher Education Academy workshop, looking at the ways in which technology is becoming embedded within teaching and learning of employability. My own presentation focused on the need for students of all academic disciplines to establish an online professional identity.

The presentation took place at the Using Learning Technologies To Develop Employability Skills Workshop, held at the University of Salford on 11 July 2013. The slides, hosted on SlideShare account for Thomas Lancaster, are included here.

I was also interested to hear of work taking place at the University of Southampton where students (largely PhD students) were taking the role of helping students to establish, build and develop their professional identities. This certainly seems like an excellent way to extend this topic beyond the bounds of the Computing academic discipline.

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