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Cutting The Cost Of Custom Essay Writing – Examining The Financial Market Behind Contract Cheating - Birmingham City University - RESCON 2013
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Cutting The Cost Of Custom Essay Writing – Examining The Financial Market Behind Contract Cheating - Birmingham City University - RESCON 2013


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This research presentation focuses on the financial market behind contract cheating, exposing the scale of the problem of students having original work produced which they hand in as if they had …

This research presentation focuses on the financial market behind contract cheating, exposing the scale of the problem of students having original work produced which they hand in as if they had written it for themselves. The research is based around over 19,000 attempts by students to cheat collected by the presenters alongside recent external investigations including one associated with Times Higher Education. The presentation is intended to raise awareness amongst academics of the scale and problem of contract cheating, original work which cannot be detected by current plagiarism detection solutions such as Turnitin.

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  • 1. Cutting The Cost Of Essay Writing Examining The Financial Market Behind Contract Cheating Thomas Lancaster & Robert Clarke Birmingham City University RESCON 2013 Tuesday 17 December 2013 @MyBCU #contractcheating 1
  • 2. Who Are We? Robert Clarke Dr. Thomas Lancaster Senior Lecturer in Computing PhD “Effective And Efficient Plagiarism Detection” Programme Leader BSc Computer Science Leader of Innovations in Computing Education Group @MyBCU Educational Consultant Visiting Lecturer/Former Principal Lecturer 30 Years Experience Teaching At BCU Collected 19,000 Attempts at Contract Cheating #contractcheating 2
  • 3. This Activity Happens At BCU… Business cards distributed outside City Centre Campus during Induction Week @MyBCU #contractcheating 3
  • 4. Students Pay For Assessed Work Post your homework for free and wait for answers from teachers. Most likely, more than one teacher will answer your question. You will be able to see a preview of the answers and purchase the one that seems the best for you. @MyBCU #contractcheating 4
  • 5. Contract Cheating Contract cheating occurs when a student has original work produced for them, which they then submit for academic credit Since this is original bespoke work, this cheating will not be detected as plagiarised when running student submissions through Turnitin Our research studies, published since 2006, focus mainly on students using agency sites, where workers competitively bid to complete work for students Also observed contract cheating delivered by Private Tutors, friends and family, through essay mills etc. @MyBCU #contractcheating 5
  • 6. Contract Cheating Study Conducted With Times Higher Education “Essay Mills: University Course Work To Order” 10 October 2013 Five page undergraduate essay (history), upper second standard £70 (lower end) £160 (higher end) “Premier” writing service - £50 an hour Postgraduate dissertation – 25,000 words, £2,800 Estimate provided of around 11,500 essays written by essay mills for UK students every year @MyBCU #contractcheating 6
  • 7. Contract Cheating Quality Study Conducted With BBC News “When Essays For Sale Become Contract Cheating” Three assignments produced by essay mills, paid for by the BBC Quality assessed by Robert Clarke Two essays (both cost £70) One judged “weak”, one judged 2:1 One computer programming assignment (at £125) Assessed as “rubbish” However, all purchased work considered passable @MyBCU #contractcheating 7
  • 8. Our Database Of Eight Years Of Visible Contract Cheating Data Postings by Agency Mar 2005 – Jun 2013 Total of 18,729 detected items Freelancer (which has since incorporated vWorker) FREELANCER 10558 VWORKER 5468 GETACODER 1289 ESSAYBAY vWorker (which incorporated RentACoder) 725 SCRIPTLANCE 294 LIVEPERSON 216 OTHER 105 TRANSTUTORS had a “no homework” policy but homework could be concealed inside private auctions Kasamba (Liveperson) 45 ODESK 29 0 main agency sites examined easy to search give most details of users actively tracking sub-contractors “tutorial” site 2000 4000 6000 8000 10000 12000 Number of postings Student Of Fortune + Transtutors sells homework solutions Clarke, R. and Lancaster, T. (2013), Commercial Aspects Of Contract Cheating, ITiCSE 2013, Canterbury, United Kingdom @MyBCU #contractcheating 8
  • 9. What Subjects Do Students Cheat On? N Business & Admin studies (Sample of 627 “all subject” cases collected on EssayBay over 5 months in 2010, and manually classified by UCAS Subject Category L Social Studies V Hist & Philosophical studies B Subjects allied to Medicine X Education C Biological Sciences Q Linguistics, Classics & related G Mathematical & Comp Sci M Law H Engineering K Architecture,Build & Plan F Physical Sciences W Creative Arts & Design P Mass Comms and Documentation R European Langs, Lit & related 0 20 40 60 80 100 120 140 160 180 EssayBay no longer operational, but this is an example of an Agency site exclusively set up for student assignments Lancaster, T. and Clarke, R. (2012), Dealing with Contract Cheating: A Question of Attribution, 1 st HEA STEM Conference April 2012, London, United Kingdom @MyBCU #contractcheating 9
  • 10. Example Of 25 Days Of Bids Won By A Freelancer Specialising In Academic Work Job Title USD Capstone Task 3 396 academic report writing AUS GBP 245 166 98 Australian Law question 120 74 Bus Report 100 62 statistics..... 110 Academic Analysis on a company 125 New Project2 38 research report 4500 words write a scholarly literature review about (The use of quick response systems (clickers) in education) 65 77 180 Quick critique of 2 short papers 107 23 325 105 193 65 Total Earnings 1009 Mean Per Job 100.9 Earnings Per Day @MyBCU sdk2788 on Freelancer .com 40.36 Note the varied selection, including contributing a staged task to a capstone project (equivalent of BSc Final Year Project) sdk2788 is also active on other agency sites, so earnings figure is likely underrepresented #contractcheating 10
  • 11. Are There Victims If We Ignore Contract Cheating? An Assignment For A Nuclear Engineer “this a assignment for do shielding for fast reactor i need the materials, shape, attenuation coefficient and size of the shielding and dose analysis around the reactor. this for health physics or nuclear engineering” @MyBCU #contractcheating 11
  • 12. Some Recommendations For BCU Academics Consider that a group of technologically savvy students are now taking your assignments Review the literature base on contract cheating and plagiarism Actively look for your assignment specifications online Check that students understand their submitted coursework (e.g. through viva-voces exams and tests depending on understanding the coursework) Inform students that you are aware of contract cheating, and use the BCU academic misconduct processes @MyBCU #contractcheating 12
  • 13. Further Resources @MyBCU #contractcheating 13
  • 14. For More Information Wikipedia: Contract Cheating Special Interest Group (supported by the Higher Education Academy): Slides Available At: @MyBCU #contractcheating 14
  • 15. Upcoming Introductory Workshop Contract Cheating Within The Computing Discipline Workshop Workshop funded by the Higher Education Academy STEM discipline Thursday 13 March 2014 Birmingham City University @MyBCU #contractcheating 15
  • 16. Our Contact Details Thomas Lancaster Email: Website: Twitter: @DrLancaster Robert Clarke Email: @MyBCU #contractcheating 16