Today has been designated as the International Day of Action against Contract Cheating, with the aim of raising awareness about the issue among all members of the higher education community. Contract cheating is a phrase coined to describe the action of a student getting someone to complete a piece of academic work on their behalf, and then submitting it as if they had done it themselves (I more or less copied that from the Contract Cheating website since I couldn’t think of a better paraphrase – full credit to them). The most commonly used approach is custom essay-writing services, which advertise widely among the student population (Newton and Lang, 2016). In the UK, the QAA published a sobering report on this in August, and has made various suggestions about appropriate actions:
Universities, colleges and sector organisations should work in partnership to tackle custom essay writing services.
The possibility of legislative approaches should be investigated.
Companies selling advertising space should reject approaches by sites selling custom essays, and search engines should limit access to these sites. (QAA, 2016)
At programme level, colleagues can help to work against this kind of activity by emphasising the ethical and moral implications, reminding students of the penalties of academic misconduct, and encouraging students to seek the support provided by the university for them to do their own work. You can check out our plagiarism resource or contact your faculty link for more detailed support.
Newton, P. M. and Lang, C. (2016). “Custom Essay Writers, Freelancers, and Other Paid Third Parties.” Handbook of Academic Integrity: 249–271.
QAA (2016). Plagiarism in Higher Education – Custom essay writing services: an exploration and next steps for the UK higher education sector. Gloucester. http://www.qaa.ac.uk/en/Publications/Documents/Plagiarism-in-Higher-Education-2016.pdf