How should we address contract cheating in higher education? Contract cheating has been an area of personal interest to me since Robert Clarke and I published the first paper referring to this type of academic misconduct back in 2006.
Even back in 2006, we could see the start of an industry being built designed simply to help students to get qualifications that they do not deserve. Left largely unchallenged, we’re now seeing an industry with an annual turnover thought to be in the hundreds of millions of pounds and which is keeping thousands of individuals in employment. Much of my recent research has focused on the individuals and providers behind contract cheating services, demonstrating that there is no shortage of supply or demand.
This week’s #LTHEchat is designed to provide us with the chance to reflect on where we are as a sector in addressing contract cheating, to discuss the positive steps that have been taken, to look at the initiatives that are working and also to map out what more we still have to do. Contract cheating is not a challenge which can be solved through a single approach or by people requiring in isolation. It requires sector wide effort.
At the same time as we make changes, we also have to be mindful of the unintended ethical consequences of the decisions we make. Is it fair to put individuals out of work who rely on selling essays to feed their family? Is it right to be considering laws which could lead to parents being imprisoned for completing the homework of their children? But, perhaps more importantly, is it even more unethical and unfair to our students to sit back and do nothing about contract cheating?
Join us at #LTHEchat to share your experiences and have your say.
The Wakelet for this chat is #LTHEChat 159.
Dr Thomas Lancaster is a Senior Teaching Fellow in the Department of Computing at Imperial College London. He has researched into plagiarism, contract cheating and academic integrity since 2000, working at and alongside a variety of universities in the UK and internationally, as well as with sector bodies such as the Quality Assurance Agency. He regularly discusses these areas with the media. He is a member of the organising committee for the International Day of Action against Contract Cheating and is a keynote speaker for Plagiarism Across Europe and Beyond 2020. His recent publications have explored the operation of the academic writing industry, including the providers from Kenya and India operating in the gig economy, as well as how Twitter is being widely used to being used to connect together student buyers and contract cheating providers.