Custom Essays And Contract Cheating – A Response

The story on custom essays from the BBC has certainly raised, some debate, no less so than a blog post on custom essays which appeared on the Telegraph web site.

The response, from a representative of the All Answers service largely notes that the quality of essays provided by different online services is variable, and that there are services which have offices that are available to visit.

There is some question about whether students using essay services actually hand in the work as if it were their own. That is certainly a topic which could raise some debate.

A potential lack of support for international students is raised. Again, support will vary from university to university, but there is certainly a market for services that provide students with additional support. There is always a debate about where a tutorial services draws the line between supporting these students and starting to do assessed work for them.

One possible solution that All Answers could consider to avoid students handing in a model essay that they have created for a student would be to forward a copy of each model essay in to the university for which it was created. That would ensure that the student would have the use of a model essay (for instance, to train them to structure an academic argument), but would not be able to submit this as if it were their own work.

Alternatively, a decision could be made so as to not produce a model essay which exactly matches a current assignment. Instead, an essay on a related topic could be produced, hence giving the student an idea of the process that they would need to go through, but which it would not be possible for a student to hand in and receive a passing mark. It will be interesting to see if All Answers moves to go down that route.

Online Education Invites New Ways to Cheat – Washington Monthly

Washington Monthly reported on a particular issue related to contract cheating, where you can hire someone to take all your classes for you.

Online Education Invites New Ways to Cheat - Washington Monthly

This is an interesting discussion about the small ad classified websites which make it very easy to advertise contract cheating style services.

In this case, cheating is facilitated since these qualifications are taken online, showing that the value of an online degree tends to be very low. There is a suggestion that some services may have IP address scanning mechanisms, however how foolproof these technical solutions are is open to question.

The figures quoted to have someone take most modules, even where continued involvement with online discussions was needed, were low, running to just a few hundred dollars. That would make it seem like having someone else participate would be a good investment, particularly if the same person was involved throughout an entire degree course to not throw up any stylometric red flags.

This is certainly another high tech cheating area worthy of further investigation and as the news article comments suggest, more innovative styles of assessments for these online courses need urgent development.

When Essays For Sale Become Contract Cheating – BBC News

Here is one of the more interesting contract cheating media studies of 2012, provided by BBC News and looking at essays for sale and contract cheating (a video version of the same news story is also available).

When Essays For Sale Become Contract Cheating BBC News

The story discusses the wide range in which students become knowledgeable about contract cheating opportunities, including advertisements placed in the window of shops.

Most usefully are the type of assignments received back from such services. This is something that is very difficult for academics to test due to the ethical implications.

This revealed a £70 and £125 assignment, both of which were of a low standard, but good enough to pass. A third assignment, also costing £70, was judged to be of a 2:1 standard.

This does demonstrate a variety in the quality of assignments received across different subject areas, showing that there are some elements of “pot luck” involved with picking essay writing companies, but if students are just aiming to pass an assignment, spending this money could be worthwhile.

And, our other contract cheating research involving auction sites have shown that there are ways to spend far less than this.