The question about whether finding the answer to an assignment online is cheating has come up on the forums for the Chronicle Of Higher Education.
The answers given clearly believe that this is a form of cheating, although there are some interesting observations put forward, including relating this problem to contract cheating.
One student suggests that they did just this, because they needed help with a problem, but acknowledged this to their instructor and received full marks.
Of more concern is that assignments are still being set where the answer can be easily found online. This is encouraging students to cheat.
Where a standard assignment is used, it makes it very difficult to monitor any contract cheating, as the same assignment will likely be traceable back to many different institutions. Some elements of uniqueness are needed.
Whilst it is clear that academics often expect the best from their students, continued work on designing assessments that make both plagiarism and contract cheating difficult is necessary.
In the absence of any substantial graphical ability, the main header image used for ContractCheating.com is simply a tag cloud related to contract cheating.
A copy of it is included here in case the tag cloud has been updated:
The tag cloud represents the first paper that we published on contract cheating (Eliminating The Successor To Plagiairsm? Identifying The Usage Of Contract Cheating Sites) and was generated using wordle.net. It provides a visual representation of the different terms used within the paper based around their proportion of usage.
The only styling involved was making sure that this was in black and white (to match the colour scheme of the site) and some resizing to fit within the space available.
You can see that the terms “contract” and “cheating” are prominent (really, this should be a phrase, but the word cloud does a good job of keeping these together). The other common phrase “bid requests” and the site we analysed, RentACoder.com, are also well represented, as is the main focus of the investigation “students”.
Wordle.net provides an interesting way to think about the content of a written source and to see what direction it focuses in on. It’s an easy way to add direction to a presentation, whether created by a student or an academic.
The focus of the contract cheating research today still very much reflects this simple word cloud.
The term contract cheating describes the form of academic dishonesty where students get academic work completed on their behalf, which they then submit for academic credit as if they had created it themselves.
Often contract cheating involves the payment of a fee to a third party, who then creates the work for the student.
One example of contract cheating would be a student being set an essay. They would then use an essay mill service to have this piece of work written for them. The student would then hand in the essay for marking as if they had written this for themselves.
Since this was an entirely original piece of work, it is unlikely that this would be detected using standard anti-plagiarism text matching services such as TurnItIn.
ContractCheating.com is intended to provide an overview of the current research into contract cheating. It is provided on behalf of the originators of the contract cheating phrase, Thomas Lancaster and Robert Clarke.