Contract cheating

Contract cheating

Contract cheating is a form of academic dishonesty in which students get others to complete their coursework for them by putting it out to tender.[1][2][3][4]

The term was coined in a 2006 study[5] by Thomas Lancaster[6] and Robert Clarke[7] at the University of Central England in Birmingham (now known as Birmingham City University).

Extent of contract cheating

The first published material detailing the extent of contract cheating is a study by Robert Clarke and Thomas Lancaster.[5] The study presented three main findings:

  1. Over 12 percent of postings on a popular website for outsourcing computer contract work are actually bid requests from students looking to attempt contract cheating.
  2. Contract cheaters posted an average of 2-7 requests, suggesting that habitual use is made of such services by these students.
  3. A smaller number of users have posted over 50 bid requests, including examples from multiple institutions. This suggests that these are agencies subcontracting work, not students who are directly making use of the services.

Whereas the quality of solutions to assignments sold by essay mill has been questioned, a study by Jenkins and Helmore showed that work obtained through the use of an auction site was of sufficient quality to gain good marks and remain undetected by the module tutor.[8]

A more recent study examined over 900 examples of contract cheating by students studying computing subjects. The published results categorise the assignment types (e.g. Programming, Database, Web Design) and are analysed by country. One new concern identified by this study was the number of major projects (both final year undergraduate and postgraduate) being posted onto auction sites.[9]

In July 2007 a paper proposed a systematic six-stage process that tutors can use to detect students who are contract cheating.[10]

From a study of 4,000 suspected cases of "contract cheating" some interesting patterns of behaviour have been observed. A summary was presented at the HEA Workshop on Contract Cheating (March 2008). [11]

At the Aske conference held in June 2009 a paper detailing a "multi-faceted" approach to dealing with the problem of "contract cheating" was presented. [12]


  1. ^ "Student cheats contract out work". BBC/ 2006-06-12. Retrieved 2006-06-14. 
  2. ^ Liz Lightfoot (2006-06-13). "Cheating students put assignments out to tender on the internet". Telegraph/ Retrieved 2006-06-14. 
  3. ^ "Cheating students put homework to tender on Internet". Daily Mail/ 2006-06-13. Retrieved 2006-06-14. 
  4. ^ "The cybercheats making a small fortune". Daily Mail/ 2006-06-17. Retrieved 2007-11-05. 
  5. ^ a b Robert Clarke & Thomas Lancaster (2006-06-19). "Eliminating the successor to plagiarism? Identifying the usage of contract cheating sites" (PDF). Retrieved 2007-05-23. 
  6. ^ Thomas Lancaster bio
  7. ^ Robert Clarke bio
  8. ^ "T. Jenkins and S. Helmore "Coursework for cash: the threat from on-line plagiarism", in Proceedings of 7th Annual Conference for Information and Computer Science, Dublin. Higher Education Academy pp121-126 (August 2006)" (PDF). 
  9. ^ Lancaster & Clarke (2007-08-30). "Assessing Contract Cheating Through Auction Sites – A Computing Perspective" (PDF). Retrieved 2007-09-13. 
  10. ^ Clarke & Lancaster (2007-07-26). "The Establishing a Systematic Six-Stage Process for Detecting Contract Cheating" (HTML). Retrieved 2011-01-09. 
  11. ^ Clarke & Lancaster (2008-03-07). "The Private Life of an Assignment" (PDF). Retrieved 2011-01-09. 
  12. ^ Lancaster & Clarke (2009-06-04). "Contract Cheating in UK Higher Education: promoting a proactive approach" (PDF). Retrieved 2011-01-09. 

External links

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