Cyber-Pseudepigraphy Or Contract Cheating

Here’s an interesting aside from the wider literature relating to student cheating which had totally passed me by until I saw the phrase used in a media report.

The term pseudepigraphy is used within some literacy and linguistic fields to describe a piece of writing where the author is not the person listed. For instance, a lot of ghostwritten celebrity autobiographies could fall within the field of pseudepigraphy.

The term cyber-pseudepigraphy was proposed to largely mean pseudepigraphy which was facilitated using the Internet. Some aspects of contract cheating could overlap with that definition. However, I haven’t seen the term fall into widespread use, or make it much beyond a 2004 paper.

Likewise, the paper mentions the term cyber-plagiarism, but that has also largely fallen out of favour. Most people just use the term plagiarism, which is dominated by what would have been called plagiarism in the past.

The paper itself is useful as it raises some early issues related to contract cheating, from around the same time as the initial body of contract cheating research was being published. In fact, a number of less-specific terms exist also, as the idea of someone writing an assignment for another student dates back for decades, but it would be useful exercise for someone to carry out a literature review looking at this development, and how the terminology has changed across different fields.

Dr. Thomas Lancaster is an international expert in academic integrity, best known for raising awareness of contract cheating through leading research and other activities. He regularly provides expert seminars and media commentary. Thomas is a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and a Computer Science practitioner. To discuss opportunities to work with Thomas, please contact
1 comment
  1. One of my early publications related to contract cheating used the term “non-originality agencies”. The issue was also discussed during my PhD, although the terminology there was much less specific (some older literature relates more specifically to “essay mills”, which is just one example of contract cheating).

    Contract cheating is much easier to say and more in keeping with the process of using a contractor, common when getting a third party to write an assignment.

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