A small success from our contract cheating work. We’ve found a way to improve on percentage of assignments found on agency sites which we’re able to attribute to academic institutions.
The secret? We’ve taken to running difficult to attribute assignment specifications through Turnitin, the plagiarism detection engine. It sounds counter-intuitive, but these often identity with fragments of work submitted by students.
All the details are in a paper from the HEA STEM Conference 2014, but the talk below, which I used at the conference, provides a few extra examples of interest
You can also check out this talk, and many slides from my other contract cheating sessions on my SlideShare account).
The conference format changed this year, which provided us with lots of time for discussion. The idea of contract cheating was new to some of the delegates and we went through a lot of examples, but we also talked about the future developments within student cheating and the issues associated with MOOCs and distance learning assessment.
Lots of stuff to keep academics on their toes.
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.
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.
Our research into contract cheating now includes more than 18,000 examples of attempts by students to cheat. One aspect we wanted to explore is to answer the often asked questions about the monetary sides to contract cheating. Who really profits?
This talk explores the commercial aspects associated with contract cheating, including examples from the diverse range of practices that we’ve uncovered.
The presentation took place at ITiCSE 2013, held at the University of Kent in Canterbury. The slides, hosted on SlideShare account for Thomas Lancaster, are included here.
The research is focused particularly on contract cheating using auction sites, so there are still other areas to explore. The data for those other contract cheating methods, however, can be very difficult to come by.
I recently joined Robert Clarke in speaking about contract cheating to a room full of academics and people from within the wider Computing industry.
As well as looking at examples of contract cheating and the research involved, the talk also considered some of the implications for student employability.
The presentation took place for the Wolverhampton branch of the British Computer Society. The slides, hosted on SlideShare account for Thomas Lancaster, are included here.
Contractor sites, such as Freelancer.com, are widely used within the Computing industry, both by workers and contractors. It is only when they are used for academic work which is then submitted towards academic qualifications that this becomes unacceptable.
It was interesting to hear the reactions of the wider Computing sector to the research. That is certainly an area for further research, discussion and exploration.