This short talk, presented at Birmingham City University’s RESCON event, focuses on the market behind contract cheating, particularly looking at the techniques students can use to get an essay written for them.
Examples include those from the contract cheating literature and wider studies conducted alongside the media.
There are some good suggestions relating to educational materials to help with writing essays, although these rather miss the underlying problem.
There is also a suggestion of using exams more widely. There are certainly sectors of society and industry that would support this.
One comment mentions that only the top half of UK universities should be allowed to recruit international students. However, there is no evidence to suggest that contract cheating is any more or less prevelent at any particular type of universities. My own observations would suggest that the so-called “new universities” are actually much more on-the-ball at spotting contract cheating and designing assignments to reduce the likelihood of students outsourcing their work. If nothing else, students at these universities are much more likely to be taught by a lecturer than at other universities.
An alternative view to consider would be that only universities that can show that they are actively taking action against contract cheating could be considered suitable to take on international students.
This video blog posts looks at a method that students are using to get essays written on their behalf, often for as little as 1c per word. This technique for contract cheating uses the micro outsourcing site, Fiverr.com which has seen little coverage in the research literature.
As well as services for writing outlines, proof reading, creating programming code, solving Maths problems and the like at $5 a time, the video also shows an essay writer with 251 positive reviews from previous work. That’s at least 251 essays, assuming that not everyone leaves feedback.
There’s some very good feedback about the service and it’s interesting to see how the seller can sometimes produce multiple essays in a single day. That suggests that the quality may be lacking (and there is a suggestion in some of the feedback that there may be some plagiarism), but there are also some very high marks showing, including students with 95%.
One piece of recent feedback stood out to me, with a student noting $100 of repeat business (around 10,000 words in total across multiple essays).
This suggests that students are continuing to cheat regularly and to get away with it, especially when using dirt cheap contract cheating opportunities as is facilitated using sites such as Fiverr.com.
And that’s just one person using one seller on a single site.
There is certainly room for continued investigation of Fiverr.com and other low cost micro outsourcing sites for other instances of contract cheating.