Clarke, R. & Lancaster, T. (2013). Commercial Aspects Of Contract Cheating, 8th Annual Conference on Innovation and Technology in Computer Science Education (ITiCSE 2013), University of Kent, Canterbury, UK, July 2013.
The process of contract cheating, the form of academic dishonesty where students outsource the creation of work on their behalf, has been recognised as a serious threat to the quality of academic awards. Unlike student plagiarism, this cheating behaviour is not currently detectable using automated tools.
This paper analyses the monetary value of contract cheating to the different parties who play a role in the contract cheating process. The main analysis is based on a corpus consisting of 14,438 identified attempts to cheat. The corpus was collected between March 2005 and July 2012. The corpus was formed as part of a manual contract cheating detection process identifying students using online agencies. These online agencies are web sites which enable students to contract cheat. The agencies usually benefit from this by receiving a percentage cut of the money raised from the contract cheating that they facilitate. This corpus is used as the basis of an attempt to quantify the monetary value of contract cheating to online agencies.
Other parties exist who benefit from the contract cheating process. The paper gives examples of the monetary value of contract cheating to each of them. Most notably this includes the contractors who bid for the opportunity to produce work on behalf of the students. Further, the paper identifies the role of intermediary contractors. These are people who post assignment requests on agency sites but who are not themselves students. These intermediary contractors appear to benefit by first receiving requests to complete work for students and then re-outsourcing this work at a much lower cost than they were paid. The group of frequent workers, that is people who regularly work on student assignments and hence benefit financially, is also identified.
The paper concludes by presenting the changing trends in contract cheating that the authors have observed since they started working against this form of academic misconduct in 2005.