The Scottish Publication, the Courier, has reported on the trade in contract cheating across Fife and Tayside.
The report is interesting, as quotes are given from universities including St. Andrews, Abertay and Dundee, none of whom seem to believe that contract cheating is much of a problem.
The quotes also show that universities are confusing contract cheating plagiarism. They infer that electronic detection systems are used to detect cheating. However, there are not yet any electronic systems which will successfully detect contract cheating. By its very nature, contract cheating represents original work that has been produced to order.
As an example, the following statement was given by a Dundee University spokesman:
There have been two instances of sufficient seriousness during the last three years to be considered by our Academic Dishonesty Committee. Neither of these instances related to ‘contract cheating’.
Such a low rate of detection of what the article refers to as “written to order essays” is worrying.
This suggests that more needs to be done across the sector to address the perceptions that universities have about contract cheating and the ways that this academic integrity issue can be prevented and detected.