Cyber-Pseudepigraphy A New Challenge for Higher Education Policy and Management

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.

Cyber-pseudepigraphy: A New Challenge for Higher Education Policy and Management

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.

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.