Thematic series - The rise of contract cheating in higher education: academic fraud beyond plagiarism
Tracey Bretag, University of South Australia Business School
The term ‘contract cheating’ was first coined by Clarke and Lancaster (2006). Contract cheating occurs when students employ or use a third party to undertake their assessed work for them, and these third parties may include:
- essay writing services;
- friends, family or other students;
- private tutors;
- copyediting services;
- agency websites or ‘reverse classifieds’ (Lancaster & Clarke, 2016: 639).
While clearly not a ‘new’ phenomenon, most commentators agree that there has been a global rise in contract cheating in recent years, across all disciplines. This has raised the level of community concern about the credibility of higher education qualifications and academic outputs, and also changed the nature of research on the topic of academic integrity. Of particular concern is the proliferation of marketing-savvy commercial providers who bombard students via social media, online platforms and other advertising forums about their ‘academic services’.
Educators and researchers agree that contract cheating is qualitatively different than plagiarism, collusion, or the other relatively minor breaches which have been the subject of attention in recent years, and so requires an entirely different approach. Contract cheating is difficult to detect and constitutes a form of fraud. Moreover, while educational responses have evolved to address longstanding issues of plagiarism, lack of understanding and/or poor academic literacies, education alone is not sufficient to address such a deliberate form of cheating (Bretag & Harper et al., 2016).
The recent explosion in contract cheating has given the international community of academic integrity scholars pause for thought. ‘Contract cheating’ is not the same as the less sinister and more widely accepted practice of ‘ghostwriting’ and has ramifications for individuals’ learning outcomes, institutional reputations, educational standards/credibility, professional practice and public safety, particularly if it is somehow normalised as an acceptable way for academic work to be accomplished.
The thematic series offers the opportunity for this emerging threat to academic integrity to be explored in-depth, and from multiple perspectives, so that meaningful responses and solutions can be instigated.
Deadline for submissions: 15th August 2017
Before submitting your manuscript, please ensure you have carefully read the submission guidelines for the International Journal for Educational Integrity (IJEI). The complete manuscript should be submitted through the IJEI submission system. To ensure that you submit to the correct thematic series please select the appropriate thematic series in the drop-down menu upon submission. In addition, indicate within your cover letter that you wish your manuscript to be considered as part of the thematic series on contract cheating. All submissions will undergo rigorous peer review and accepted articles will be published within the journal as a collection.
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Bretag, T., Harper, R., Ellis, C., Newton, P., Rozenberg, P., Saddiqui, S., and van Haeringen, K. (2016). Contract Cheating and Assessment Design: Exploring the Connection (Project proposal to the Australian Office for Learning and Teaching). Retrieved from www.cheatingandassessment.edu.au
Clarke, R., & Lancaster, T. (2006). Eliminating the Successor to Plagiarism: Identifying the Usage of Contract Cheating Sites. Proceedings of the Second International Plagiarism Conference. United Kingdom, Gateshead, Retrieved from http://www.plagiarismadvice.org/research-papers/item/eliminating-the-successor-to-plagiarism-identifying-the-usage-of-contact-cheating-sites
Lancaster, T. and Clarke, R. (2016). Contract Cheating: The Outsourcing of Assessed Student Work, Chapter 44 in T. Bretag (Ed.), Handbook of Academic Integrity (Singapore: Springer): 639-654.