Here is an early paper which covers issues related to contract cheating, although here it is known as cyber-pseudepigraphy. The paper was originally published in the Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management in 2004.
The paper focuses on five issues related to students using the Internet to have work written for them which they can then submit.
The first is that this type of fraud is common. This is backed up by the data on contract cheating, although no attempt to quantify it was made at this point.
The second is that this “poses a significant challenge to public confidence in institutions of higher education”. Again, that is the same problem posed by any type of academic integrity if left unchecked.
Third, the paper notes the possible unfairness to students if their peers get away with cheating. This is one of the issues that I have always raised, where those students who do legitimately do their own work shouldn’t be penalised compared to others.
Fourth, the paper defines this as a problem of character. I take this as meaning that the students see no advantage in the learning process or reason to develop skills for themselves. That’s a valid criticism of many types of education and is again something that needs to be integral to every course so that students see the value of their studies.
Finally, the paper recommends that universities take urgent action. A suggestion is made for universities to revert back to examinations to ensure academic integrity.
The paper presents an interesting read when looking at contract cheating from the policy angle and indeed many of the same issues are still valid today. In particular, getting every student to feel so engaged with their course that they have no reason to wish to cheat has to be one of the main targets of higher education.
A copy of the original e-print version of the paper is available.
More information about the final version is available on the publisher website.