International Center For Academic Integrity Conference 2021

The International Center For Academic Integrity Conference 2021 took place virtually for the first time. As such, more than 1,000 attendees joined the event, with a variety of parallel sessions on offer. You can check my previous blog posts for my reports about the physical ICAI conference 2020 and ICAI conference 2019.

I gave a practitioner presentation on academic integrity teaching, co-presented at a workshop on publishing academic integrity research (abbreviated video version available here) and attended lots of interesting and topical sessions. This blog post is based solely on the sessions I was able to attend live. There are lots more sessions I’d still like to dip into. A good point about the conference being virtual is that the other presentations are all archived for attendees in video format.

The discussion at this conference was also excellent. Some comments are archived on Twitter with the hashtag #ICAI2021, but a lot of discussion also took place on Whova (the app used to run the conference) and in the text chat on Zoom. One thing that stood out for me is that there were such a lot of new attendees grappling with contract cheating and use of file sharing sites for the first time. We need to find more ways to get actionable information about academic integrity out to that audience.

This isn’t the first report about the conference. The wonderful Debora Weber-Wulff was on the ball as usual and had her thoughts up within seconds of the final conference presentation concluding. As circumstances have it, Debora and I attended many of the same sessions. Then, just as I was finishing writing this post, I saw that the equally wonderful Sarah Eaton had posted her own thoughts about the conference collaborations she was involved with.

As is traditional, I wanted to collect together some of my main thoughts, post conference and reflect on the findings. I also wanted to look at the academic integrity challenges and opportunities we should be addressing as we most forward. I’ve identified five main themes, somewhat interconnected, which really stood out to me.


#1 – Academic File Sharing Sites Pose A Risk To Academic Integrity

The single most dominant theme discussed at the conference was the way students have been misusing sites like Chegg to get answers to exams and coursework questions produced for them. This isn’t a new behaviour and indeed it could be considered as a variant to contract cheating, but it seemed like many delegates had not seen discussions of contract cheating before. Much of the increase was blamed on the move to online exams in light of Covid-19 and my own research with Codrin Cotarlan has seen an increase of 196.25% in homework requests post the move online, but the real situation is always more complex.

Most of the conference discussion focused on Chegg, but this is not the only site that allows students to share university owned files online and discuss answers. Other sites operating in the same space, like Course Hero, were also covered. The impression given in the online discussions is that delegates saw Chegg as the most visible site of this type, but Chegg did also offer mechanisms to help academic integrity investigations, even if students were finding ways to circumvent these.

One of the biggest concerns educators tend to have about Chegg is how quickly answers can be returned during an examination, with one delegate expressing their frustration with questions being visible within 10 minutes of the start of their exam. Tricia Bertram Gallant and Marilyn Derby analysed the time in took to receive answers more thoroughly in relation to requests for UC Davis courses.

Tricia and Marilyn shared examples where they showed that hundreds of UC Davis students had used Chegg to cheat, including 32% of students on a statistics module. In a separate example, Kelly Ahuna and Loretta Frankovitch from University at Buffalo said that they had investigated over 100 academic integrity violations on Chegg since remote teaching began, each of which could involve multiple students. Those investigations had provided them with enough information to identify about 70 students in total. The concerns about Chegg were echoed by others at the conference, with several hundred cases known about at one university. An example of a 17 page takedown notice being necessary to address the requirements for a file sharing site to take action was given.

Example of the type of information supplied by Chegg for an academic integrity violation. This example, courtesy of University at Buffalo, shows two students posting multiple questions for the same exam.

There was general consensus that it was good that some students using file sharing could be identified, but delegates also noted how easy it was for students to hide their identify if they chose to to do. Examples were given of how students could access Chegg through Discord bots, discussion that they could use fake email accounts and VPNs and examples were shown where the questions were posted through accounts where the student claimed to be at a different university. I’ve also observed a lively trade online of buying, selling and leasing out Chegg accounts, sometimes legitimate, sometimes stolen, often at a heavy discount, but all making direct identification really difficult.

An associated question asked what the penalties should be for students accessing file sharing sites. Here universities approaches differed. Some universities did not allow students to post questions on third party sites at all, others did not allow them to look up answers. There was also a question raised about what happens in a student looks up an answer after an exam finished. In many cases, posting university owned materials online was said to be a breach of copyright and intellectual property. One amusing story was told about a student trying to negotiate the penalty they were awarded for using Chegg. The student had posted three questions, but in their defence said they had only used one of the answers.

Zachary Dixon warned that many university courses are compromised based on the volume of their intellectual property found on file sharing sites

Does the appearance of questions and answers on file sharing sites pose a real risk? Zachary Dixon said that this does and indicated that universities need to be more aware of how common unauthorised file sharing is. Zachary proposed a “compromise metric“, which measures how much of the content of any given course is available online. The compromise metric also considers how valuable those items are, with quizzes, tests and exams being rated as more valuable than homework style questions. Zachary found some highly compromised courses within his own university, but a wider study across other universities would be useful to see how far this problem generalises.

There is no easy solution to file sharing sites, but it is important for the educational community to know that these sites exist, that students use them and they are marketing heavily to students. One delegate stated that Chegg offered $1200 to their Maths club if they could come in and give a pitch. That story may be anecdotal, but it seems to illustrate the value file sharing sites see in acquiring customers and getting access to more academic content through them.


#2 – The Methods Available To Detect Academic Dishonesty Are Improving

Although detection is not in itself the saviour of academic integrity, it is one tool that the community should have in its toolbox to help with integrity. The conference saw the discussion of several methods that may help here.

The need to automatically crawl and monitor file sharing sites for university owned content was discussed, with several tools developed for use at individual institutions, with the possibility for wider rollout in the future. These tools would not only provide an alert about academic integrity breaches, but also occupy time for the file sharing sites, requiring them to deal with takedown requests and to release information about the users accessing these materials.

Sometimes, just having copies of the answers given by file sharing sites can be enough. It is then just a method of matching those answers to student submissions. The suggestion was made for universities to simply pay for the answers, but Sarah Eaton does not think we should be financially fuelling that industry. I would be inclined to agree with Sarah here.

The approach of seeding wrong answers online to exam questions was muted. Such answers makes it possible to track students who access these. One of the proctoring companies was said to offer a service where they would rank wrong answers in the first pages of Google results. Other delegates talked about doing this manually, or having answers prepared to post on file sharing and contract cheating sites that allow user submitted content as soon as exam questions appear there. The wider question does have to be asked if such behaviour qualifies as entrapment. My view is that we should be ourselves leading with academic integrity, but I can see why some people would want to fight fire with fire.

We’ve begun to see some interesting work looking at contract cheating detection (as I have previously outlined in this blog post). Olumide Popoola has developed an alternative stylometric approach for identifying contract cheating, which shows a lot of promise. Olumide has also identified methods of differentiating paid for essays from those written by students. More information is outlined here in Olumide’s blog post.

Olumide collected together a corpus of over 1,000 business essays. Some of these were the free samples provided by essay mills. Others were real work submitted my students. Olumide then used stylometric techniques to identify differences between the contracted cheated essays and the student essays.

The results Olumide found match up well with other checklists of how to identify work produced through a contract cheating provider, which is positive to see. One of Olumide’s hints is to look for the use of extra words in student essays. These unnecessary additions are designed to just push the word count of essays up to meet minimum requirements (and to ensure that writers for contract cheating firms get paid quicker).

Olumide hopes to develop this work to produce a standalone tool, which will be very useful for the community. He also wants to check how well the results collected from business essays expand to other fields.


#3 – We Haven’t Got Remote Examinations Right… Yet…

This is the online proctoring system used to preserve academic integrity at the University of New England

With Covid-19 interventions being such a dominant theme, the conference hosted plenty of discussion about remote examinations and the steps institutions are taking to uphold academic integrity, particularly with students able to outsource the questions to file sharing sites like Chegg.

The issue of online proctoring raised its head, with the need to balance security and privacy.

Jennifer Lawrence and Kylie Day from the University of New England shared the perspective of a university that had developed exams to be online from well before the pandemic. They noted the extra opportunities provided to students when they could take exams remotely, making education accessible to students who could not easily attend a university setting in person.

Jennifer and Kylie shared an example of what remote examination at their institution looks like, from both the test taker and invigilator point of view. The invigilators work in an office environment, each monitoring around six students. The students work in their home (or other preferred) environment and are monitored through their cameras.

Yes, the situation could be considered invasive, but Jennifer and Kylie’s view is that students are also being closely monitored in an exam hall. And these students knew what they were signing up for.

The situation is less clear-cut when changes made at other universities as a result of the pandemic are considered. In this case, not all the students knew they would be monitored at home when they signed up their course. Those students may not even have access to a private environment. There are also issues when artificial intelligence based monitoring solutions are used, especially when these solutions may include elements of bias.

How important should we take assessment security? Jennifer and Kylie discussed the in-person example where students need to be searched before exams to check for hidden earpieces (something we found to be a known problem in research around South East Europe). I largely agree with Jennifer and Kylie here, but I would have to question how thoroughly students are searched before taking exams in many institutions. Another possible comparison would be with professional exams. With these, not only are candidates searched on entry, but they also take the exams in a closely monitored environment, with cameras recording all the way through. In some ways, the remote alternative does not sound anywhere invasive as the situation students will face post graduation.

The debate will continue, but perhaps exams are just not the best assessment method to use in a post Covid-19 world. We do need to be considering alternatives.


#4 – We Need To Rethink How We Teach And Assess Maths

Students now have access to tools like Mathway to quickly solve their maths problems

There wasn’t an official presentation on this topic, but the same issue was raised several times in discussions by different delegates.

The landscape for maths support and help has changed substantially over the past five years. It is now simple for students to download apps, take a photo of a maths question and get back a worked solution.

This problem of maths solvers isn’t brand new. I remember warning about WolframAlpha, which offers a similar service through a web interface, ten years or so ago. But what has changed is how well known apps and mobile friendly websites like Photomath and Mathway are and how readily these appear to be being used in examination situations.

Now, some people will dismiss this as just a problem for students on Mathematics degrees, but the consequences are much wider reaching. So many courses have a maths component, particularly in the early years of study. Other courses require maths proficiency throughout. As Alexander Amigud and I showed when we analysed the demand for contract cheating services, students from across many disciplines offer to pay for answers to maths problems. One interesting study would be to see how far those paid for maths answers are unique and how far service sellers simply resort to using maths apps for themselves.

The number of students cheating using maths apps is hard to quantify, but one delegate said 45% of their students used cheating maths apps for an online proctored trigonometry exam. They were able to position their phones outside of the view of the monitoring cameras.

A positive note is that detection of the use of these apps is possible in some situations. The apps do not always solve problems in the same way a human would, or follow the formats taught in class. And if many students hand in identical answers and working, as generated by the apps, that is suspicious. But apps improve all the time and academic integrity breaches can be hard to prove. Mathematics is definitely an area where a rethink of teaching and assessment strategies is needed.


#5 – Partnering With Students Offers Us A Way To Move The Academic Integrity Community Forward

Cath Ellis encouraged universities, quality bodies and individuals to share information and develop strategic partnerships around academic integrity

A very positive theme emerging from the conference was ways for student academic partnerships in academic integrity to develop.

Staff-student partnerships is a theme I’m passionate about. I’m working on a book chapter discussing partnership opportunities in more detail. My recent paper with Codrin Cotarlan came about as an Imperial College London StudentShapers partnership.

Two delegates shared examples of useful software they’d had produced by students.

Debora Weber-Wulff showcased a text comparison tool, which highlights similar text from two documents in a side-by-side colour coded way. Very useful when trying to demonstrate to students that just changing a few words here and there is still plagiarism, or when documenting a case for an academic misconduct hearing.

Zachary Dixon’s CourseVillain tool, designed to monitor and request the take down of unacceptable posts on Course Hero, also came about from hiring a Computer Science student for a summer programming project. Zachary encouraged other universities to look into ways to pair with Computer Science students as well.

Cath Ellis and Kane Murdoch spoke enthusiastically about the need to build academic integrity communities. In my own presentation I talked about finding different ways to engage students as our partners. In my talk I said how I considered students as being well-suited to conduct academic integrity research. Several students co-presented at the conference and took part in panels. In spite of the emerging challenges to academic integrity we’ve seen, the student movement shows that the overall future of society is still in safe hands.

10 Contract Cheating Research Observations From The Past Decade That Have Shaped What We Know About Student Cheating Behaviour

10 In 10 Contract Cheating Series – Part 10

This is the final part in a 10 part series looking at how contract cheating has changed since the term was first publicised in a research paper and presentation in June 2006.

As I’ve explored throughout this series of blog posts looking at a decade of contract cheating, the world in which students are using assignment writing services and consultancies has changed substantially. Although it often seems that the push for universities to seriously tackle contract cheating is media driven, there have been substantive pieces of research completed in the contract cheating field.

This post identifies 10 research findings which are of particular interest to researchers now and which should inform the next decade of work in this area of student cheating.


Finding #1 – Once Students Have Begun To Cheat, Many Such Students Continue To Do Cheat Habitually

One of the most interesting findings in the first contract cheating study that Robert Clarke and I published, was that very few students cheated as a one-off activity. We noticed the behaviour that students had successfully made several requests to outsource their work, sometimes with multiple assignments for different subjects being completed at the same time.

Recent media reports looking inside essay mills have also noticed the same group of students appearing again and again. Other media reports speaking to essay writers have also stated that there is a personal continuing business relationship between the writer and the student.

The traditional academic research into student cheating suggests that student cheat due to desperation, because they don’t know how to complete the work, or because they don’t have enough time. All of those issues may be enabling factors for student cheating, but it appears that once students have found that cheating has granted them academic success, they will continue to cheat. There are cheating networks now, where students refer other students to writers. The growing awareness of these essay writing services around students is leading to their continued growth.


Finding #2 – Workers Can Be Commissioned Quickly To Complete Assignments For Students

One proposal to combat contract cheating that has been made is for the assignment details to be released to students very late, so as to give them little time to secure a worker.

Melisa Wallace and Philip Newton investigated how long the likely turnaround times on visible contract cheating sites and found a group of people ready to take on an assignment with either a week’s deadline or even 24 hour’s deadline. They even found that over 10 such workers would be available to choose from for each such assignment. For workers for whom academic writing is their living, being responsive to market needs is important.

Other essay mills also regularly advertise that same day turnaround for assignments is possible. They can do this as they have access to their own army of freelance writers, usually consisting of far more people that they actually need. They people are trained to turn assignments around quickly, following the formatting and layout norms for that academic discipline.

Our own observations of contract cheating agency sites have seen requests to hire workers in advance, so that these workers are online and available at the time that assignments are released. This is particularly the case for take home examinations.

The recommendation has to be that “just in time” release of assignment details is not the right option and may actually create more problems with allowing students to do their best work in this area.


Finding #3 – Essays And Assignments Can Be Purchased Cheaply And They Can Be Of High Quality

There is a traditional viewpoint that original essays purchased from third party sources will be of low quality, particularly since the essay provider has not vested interest in turning out high quality report. Several studies of around ten years ago went along with this viewpoint, showing examples of work purchased at premium prices, but received marks around the pass threshold, involving some failures.

The more recent studies about the quality of student work have counteracted that viewpoint.

A study by Lisa Lines saw the purchase of multiple essays from different providers, at both undergraduate and postgraduate level. Although the marks awarded for completing essays with the same title varied across providers, she identified essays receiving exceptional marks (above 90%), with few failures. She also found that the work at undergraduate level was generally better than the work at postgraduate level and that the providers who charged more generally returned higher quality essays.

During our own research, we’ve seen examples of essays, reports, programming assignments and other pieces of work produced by different academic writing firms and directly commissioned from writers. The standard has been variable, but the work from major providers also seems to have improved in recent years. This is likely largely due to increased education between firms and writers about how high quality academic work should be presented. It also appears that there may now be more internal checking included in the academic commissioning process.

It also seems that the quality of the work is dependent more on choosing the correct writer, rather than the amount being paid. It is possible to commission writers directly through contract cheating agency sites. Working with a motivated writer, perhaps through setting them a question that differs from run-of-the-mill assignments, can be engaging for them. Direct communication with a writer can also keep the prices down.

Although I don’t have a budget to directly commission work from writers and assess how good this is, I am certain that a high quality 2000 word assignment could easily be purchased for $100 USD or less (and earlier in this series, I’ve demonstrated that offers exist to complete work for as low as $20 USD).


Finding #4 – The Business Academic Discipline Represents The “Bread And Butter” For Contract Cheating Providers

During our early studies, we identified that most assignment requests on the EssayBay site were from the business discipline.

That finding has been supported many times since. Several academics in the discipline have told me that they believe that there is a real problem in business. I’ve also spoken to a writer for an essay mill and he was very quick to tell me that business assignments and term papers ranked at the top of the more requested list.

I often joke that we are turning out people equipped to work in business, as they understand where they should invest money. But clearly, contract cheating in any discipline is not a behaviour that we want to encourage.

In the assignments we’ve seen, requests for MBA work and MBA dissertations are appearing with alarming frequency. These are often needed as a professional qualification, can be taken online and don’t appear to have the same level of supervision as other types of qualification. When Neil Wellman and Julia Fallon seriously investigated cheating in an MBA module that they were responsible for, they were able to identify consistent cheating rates of around 30%. The students estimated that around 40% of the work on the MBA was purchased, although that number could not be verified. One student even confidentially admitted that he had given the assignments to their cousin to complete the work.

It may soon get to the stage where MBA holders have to be able to demonstrate that their qualification is, indeed, a reputable one.


Finding #5 – Ghostwriters Now Look At Completing Work For Students As A Reputable Career Move For Them

Another interesting research strand that has begun to emerge has been looking at the people who are completing work for students, the techniques that they use and why they engage in this behaviour.

A key finding, backed up by my own investigations into the people bidding to complete work for the students, is that this is purely a financial arrangement. The work can be well paid, particularly in economies where the cost of living is lower. There is a lot of work available. The hours and working arrangements can be flexible. As I’ve outlined in previous talks and post, academic writing work is now seen as so lucrative and in demand that people will pay to get access to writing work opportunities. There are whole communities set up to help academic ghostwriters perform better, work more efficiently and avoid the fines imposed by essay writing agencies.

Several sources have found ghostwriters who are in this field for revenge. Shiva Sivasubramaniam, Kalliopi Kostelidou and Sharavan Ramachandran identified a community of international writers with qualifications from western universities, but who had resorted to academic ghostwriting due to a lack of work experience. A media investigation found a UK based tutor who had been unsuccessful at gaining an an academic position, so was now supplementing tutorial work by writing assignments for students. My own research has seen plenty of workers on outsourcing websites offering to complete academic work and advertising academic qualifications up to PhD level as their credentials.

I have spoken to online writers and found a mix of ethical views towards completing student work. Many writers say that they are happy to complete academic work for students, as they see this as fulfilling a market need, but ethical boundaries vary. One writer said that they were unwilling to help prospective nurses, for example, but would happily turn out several business essays a day if sufficient work was available.

Christopher Harris and Padmini Srinivasan went further and created a fake website offering homework help services. They found that most workers on a micro-outsourcing site were willing to allow their answers to be submitted by students for academic credit, most significantly when the worker was from India or Bangladesh. They also found that the size of the payment made to the workers did not change their ethical views on this topic or whether they would accept work offered as providing contract cheating opportunities. These workers were either already willing to support student cheating, or they were not.

The growth of individual writers advertising contract cheating services on social media and the more aggressive and the targeted nature of this advertising suggests that workers are now seeing the benefits of setting up their own direct provision of essay writing services. There are all kinds of involved marketing methods that students can now use to attract students. I predict that the number of people who are using academic writing as a major source of income, or looking at this as their career, will only grow further.


Finding #6 – Contract Cheating Detection Software Has Still Not Proven Successful

One of the biggest surprises to me during the 10 years of contract cheating research that I’ve been involved with, is that no-one has made substantial progress towards the problem of writing software to identify when contract cheating has taken place.

My own research publications have identified several possible models for this, ranging from suggesting stylometric analysis to look for a student writing style that differs from what would be expected, to developing intelligent systems designed to monitor the requests posted on contract cheating websites and attempt to alert the owners.

I have seen some initial findings of promise, including some unpublished work suggesting that there are elements of student writing styles that can identify them, even with a small writing sample. But, there has not been interest shown by funding bodies to take this work to the next level and no computer scientists or linguists have taken this on as a personal project to challenge them. Likewise, none of the major plagiarism detection services have looked to add this type of detection to their services, preferring instead to stick with releasing traditional text matching software.

One surprising result that I have found during my investigations with Robert Clarke is that running requests for assignment help found online through Turnitin can sometimes help to identify the source, particularly where academics reuse the same assignment briefs year after year. Likewise, student work can often throw up indicators that all is not what it seems, particularly through small percentage matches to external sites. Not all ghostwriters provide work that is as original as they advertise and several students have been caught out when their writer was found to have taken shortcuts.

Contract cheating detection would be an excellent area for PhD students to get involved with. There’s scope for multiple PhD projects in this area as there are many different approaches that can be investigated. There is a timeliness for this work and so opportunities to make an impact during and beyond the PhD. This ties in with trends of national and international interest. My own PhD developed software to solve the more traditional problem of detecting plagiarism, but I would be keen to work with PhD students looking to develop methods, metrics and software for detecting contract cheating.


Finding #7 – The Real Money In Contract Cheating Is Made By The Third Party Subcontractors

Very early on in our contract cheating research, we identified the pattern of certain accounts that were requesting that vast volumes of assignments were completed for them. These were often across different academic disciplines, involved multiple years of study and even covered assignments from several universities.

What we identified were third party subcontractors, essentially people or businesses who took in orders from students and then themselves used an outsourcing process to find workers to complete the assessments.

Over the past decade, that third party subcontractor model has become more commonplace, with many of the larger essay writing companies using a similar process. The main difference here is that the continued outsourcing process is often kept private inside those sites and only seen by registered writers.

For smaller companies, for instance those single-person companies operating within a local area, or targeting students at a particular university, cheap outsourcing to traditional agency sites such as Freelancer still exists. Sometimes, this can be done by individual writers who simply do not have the capacity to complete all of the orders that they’re receiving at busy times of the academic year. During the continued student work outsourcing process, the latest observations are that these third party subcontractors often have a group of regular workers that they use, continue to manage and put their assignments through, all protected through the privacy and escrow payment process in place at these outsourcing websites.

Writers have indicated that as little as 10% of the money paid by students to essay sites may end up with writers. The real money in the essay industry is clearly taking in the orders, not completing the writing. Likewise, the students who are now identified as going directly to writers rather than through other companies have also clearly identified how to get the best return for their academic writing investment.


Finding #8 – Over 50% Of Students Are Willing To Buy Essays If The Price Is Right

One of the most interesting of the contract cheating studies that I’ve read about over the past decade was an investigation by Dan Rigby and team into how much willing students would be to pay to outsource their assignments. They completed this study using standard proven economic theories.

They identified that over 50% of students would be willing to buy original assessments from ghostwriting services, with a clear reduction in numbers if the risk of being caught went up. Increased numbers would commission work if the quoted price was lower or the likelihood of receiving a top grade was higher.

It is still difficult to ascertain exactly how many students have used contract cheating services, as only a small number of students get detected and taken through formal disciplinary processes. I’ve seen small scale estimates suggesting that this number could lie anywhere between 1 in 100 and 1 in 2, depending on the students and discipline. I suspect that the real percentage of students who have tried using contract cheating services is closer to 10%, although this will vary between cohorts and academic disciplines. In any case, the number of students contract cheating must be sizable, as the latest estimates suggest that a minimum of £100 million (GBP) a year of business is working its way through these sites (although my own studies suggest £20 million as a more immediately believable figure).


Finding #9 – International Students Are Particularly Susceptible To Taking Advantage Of Contract Cheating Opportunities

Much media attention has been paid to the likelihood that international students are involved with outsourcing their work. A Freedom of Information Act request in the UK found that international students were three times more likely to be caught cheating than home students. A media investigation in Australia went inside an essay mill aimed at students from China and found that many made prevalent and repeated use of this service.

When Dan Rigby and group investigated which students would be willing to pay for assignments, they found that around 75% of students with English as a second language were willing to buy assessed work, as opposed to 50% of the general student body.

When non-international and international students work in teams together, there have been several online discussions where the non-international students have reported pressure from the international students to use academic writing services. There are many indications that suggest that the use of contract cheating providers is common across that group.

We need to be aware that international students are particularly susceptible to the marketing of contract cheating services and identify how to best support those students and ensure that they do not end up tempted to use essay writing services.


Finding #10 – All Assignments Are Cheatable When Students Are Inclined To Cheat

If we can dream up an assignment, students can find a way to either cheat on that assignment, or to give themselves an unfair advantage.

I’ve often given talks and heard academics talk about their “unbeatable” assignment. For instance, they require students to complete work in stages, each of which receives feedback and is sent back to the student for improvements.

Assignments like those are just as easy to outsource as any other. We’ve seen plenty of examples online of students securing workers to complete their project work, with the workers being sent the feedback comments as they come in. If anything, this makes the workers life easier, as they get the benefit of the feedback intended for the student.

What we can do is avoid setting the type of standard repetitive essays that are many writers bread and butter. The writers eagerly await the essays on standard themes that they can turn around in a few hours. Many of the more challenging and unusual assignments are harder for students to find a worker to complete for them.


Contract Cheating Research Must Continue

Although this is the final post in this series on contract cheating, you can be assured that coverage of this problem will continue on my blog, through my teaching and learning presentations and as part of my wider media and research work. The problem will not go away. New cheating developments will continue to emerge, as a small group of students continues to look for new ways to earn qualifications that they do not deserve.

Do take a look at the other parts of the 10 in 10 contract cheating series and let me know about any areas of student cheating that you’d like me to focus in on, or to direct other researchers in the academy integrity field towards.

As always, I’m happy to be contacted regarding keynote speaking opportunities, research collaborations, training sessions and other consultancy opportunities around the field of contract cheating.