‘A legal approach to tackling contract cheating?’

Posted in Legal issues on December 6th, 2017 by steve

Abstract: The phenomenon of contract cheating presents, potentially, a serious threat to the quality and standards of Higher Education around the world. There have been suggestions, cited below, to tackle the problem using legal means, but we find that current laws are not fit for this purpose. In this article we present a proposal for a specific new law to target contract cheating, which could be enacted in most jurisdictions. We test our proposed new law against a number of issues that would need to be considered before any legal approach could be successful; would changing the legal status of contract cheating make it less likely to happen? Could this be achieved in a specific way? If so, who should actually be prosecuted and what offence are they committing? Would it actually address the causes of contract cheating? We suggest some answers to these questions, but then also identify a number of unintended potential consequences. We therefore additionally consider whether a legal approach is possible or even desirable. We conclude that a legal approach to contract cheating is possible, and, on balance, appropriate. Using UK law as an example, we offer a specific suggestion to lawmakers, around the world, for how this might be achieved, and conclude that the most successful approach would be to focus largely on a law targeting the providers of contract cheating, in particular commercial services.

Michael J Draper and Philip M Newton, A legal approach to tackling contract cheating?, International Journal for Educational Integrity (December 2017).

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Word Mixing to Defeat Plagiarism

Posted in Teaching on June 15th, 2017 by steve

Ireland“Recently I heard about a website called Spinbot.com that will ‘rewrite human readable text into additional, readable text’ – it is an ‘automatic article spinner’ tool. The site is designed for ‘bloggers, twitter users and online marketers’, and is described as a ‘dream come true’ to help rework content to help with SEO …” (more)

[Careful With That Axe, Eugene, 15 June]

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Written work and essay mills

Posted in Teaching on May 24th, 2017 by steve

Ireland“Sir, – I agree with Colum Kenny’s assessment that legislation is unlikely to be of any great value in tackling the problem of plagiarism but I do not agree that only written exams can stop the problem (‘Written exams would stump internet cheats’, Opinion & Analysis, May 19th) …” (more)

[Gránne Madden, Irish Times, 14 May]

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Plan to prosecute firms who offer paid-for essays to students

Posted in Governance and administration, Legal issues on March 13th, 2017 by steve

Ireland“The Department of Education is planning to introduce laws to prosecute ‘essay mill’ companies who offer to write students’ assignments in exchange for money. The move is a response to mounting concern over the practice which allows students to circumvent their college’s plagiarism detection systems …” (more)

[Carl O’Brien, Irish Times, 12 March]

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Now a degree is a commodity, no wonder more students are cheating

Posted in Legal issues on February 22nd, 2017 by steve

“It was reported this week that the Department for Education is considering new penalties for students who plagiarise essays. This comes after an investigation by the Times in 2016 found that 50,000 students had been caught cheating on their university degrees in the three years before. Students were paying anywhere between £100 and £6,750 for an essay, and this widespread cheating has led to suggestions that criminal records could be dished out to offenders …” (more)

[Poppy Noor, Guardian, 22 February]

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University students could be fined or handed criminal records for plagiarised essays, new proposals suggest

Posted in Legal issues, Teaching on February 21st, 2017 by steve

“University students who buy essays online face fines and a criminal record under plans to punish plagiarism being considered by the government. For the first time, students caught cheating could be criminalised amid fears that a burgeoning ‘essay mills’ industry is threatening the quality of a British university degree …” (more)

[Harry Yorke, Telegraph, 21 February]

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UCD deputy registrar Bairbre Redmond paid 1.5K a day in €436,000 ‘Runaway’ Plagiarism Report

Posted in Legal issues on October 1st, 2016 by steve

Ireland“Bairbre Redmond, the deputy Registrar in UCD was paid €1,500 a day for a plagiarism report she undertook for GMIT it can be revealed. The report, commissioned by Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology ran on for over three years, and racked up a final cost of €430,000 by 2013 …” (more)

[College Tribune, 30 September]

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Have 1 in 5 UK academics fabricated data?

Posted in Legal issues, Research on July 1st, 2016 by steve

UK“A small survey of UK academics suggests misconduct such as faking data and plagiarism is occurring surprisingly often. The survey — of 215 UK academics — estimated that 1 in 7 had plagiarized from someone else’s work, and nearly 1 in 5 had fabricated data …” (more)

[Retraction Watch, 1 July]

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Essays for sale: a new wave of plagiarism

Posted in Legal issues on May 17th, 2016 by steve

Ireland“Students who use online essay-writing services face sanction if caught. As for the final product, our experiment suggests such work is far from guaranteed to pass …” (more)

[Ronan Smyth, Irish Times, 17 May]

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Sci-Hub Will Increase Academic Plagiarism

Posted in Legal issues, Research on May 13th, 2016 by steve

USA“The over 50 million scholarly articles stolen by the pirates at Sci-Hub will significantly increase the occurrence of academic plagiarism. In some cases, Sci-Hub is able to download and re-publish content before it’s been crawled by plagiarism-detection companies — that is, before they can add newly-published content to their central indexes …” (more)

[Scholarly Open Access, 12 May]

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Eight technologies that are changing education

Posted in Teaching on February 2nd, 2016 by steve

Ireland“From real-time tracking systems that enable parents to follow their children’s progress in school to plagiarism alerts in universities, technology is changing how people learn and are taught …” (more)

[Carl O’Brien, Irish Times, 2 February]

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Universities catch almost 50,000 student cheats

Posted in Legal issues on January 2nd, 2016 by steve

UK“Nearly 50,000 university students have been caught cheating in the last three years, according to figures which also suggest non-EU scholars are the most likely to commit the offence …” (more)

[Guardian, 2 January]

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Angelica Risquez, ‘Anti-plagiarism software in an Irish University: three years later’

Posted in Teaching on December 24th, 2015 by steve

IrelandAbstract: A variety of anti-plagiarism software applications have appeared in recent years, but the pedagogical and institutional practices underpinning their use remains largely unexplored. It is essential to increase the amount of evidence-based literature that investigates the use of anti-plagiarism software in higher education. In the light of this, this chapter explores the integration of anti-plagiarism software in an Irish university since early 2006 and the progress made to date. We use data gathered from our own context to show how instructors are using this software to date, what trends emerge and what can be deduced about the adoption of the system to guide future research questions. Best practices are suggested for educators in order to help them to use anti-plagiarism software in proactive, positive, and pedagogically sound ways.

Risquez, Angelica, Anti-plagiarism software in an Irish University: three years later in Critical Design and Effective Tools for E-Learning in Higher Education: Theory into Practice, Donnelly, Roisin, Harvey, Jen and O’Rourke, Kevin (eds) (2010).

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GMIT boss sorry over plagiarism probe cost

Posted in Governance and administration, Legal issues on September 25th, 2015 by steve

Ireland“The head of a third-level college has apologised to staff and students after more than €436,000 was spent on an investigation into plagiarism by a student. Jim Fennell, the acting president of Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology (GMIT), said the probe ended up being more complex and therefore more expensive than initially envisaged …” (more)

[Shane Phelan, Independent, 25 September]

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Article Spinning: A Plagiarism Technique for the 21st Century

Posted in Legal issues, Teaching on September 23rd, 2015 by steve

USA“Article spinning is an increasingly-popular technique for creating plagiarized scholarly articles that plagiarism-detection software doesn’t always catch. It involves using software to copy and rephrase a published scholarly to create a new article …” (more)

[Scholarly Open Access, 22 September]

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University of Glasgow mulls turning away from Turnitin

Posted in Governance and administration on September 2nd, 2015 by steve

Scotland“A Russell Group university is considering cancelling its Turnitin licence owing to long-running ‘operational difficulties’ with the plagiarism detection service. California-based Turnitin counts 98% of the UK’s higher education institutions among its subscribers, but the University of Glasgow is the first in the country to sign up with Urkund, a Swedish rival …” (more)

[Chris Havergal, Times Higher Education, 2 September]

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New GMIT President says plagiarism issues should be resolved shortly

Posted in Governance and administration on August 21st, 2015 by steve

Ireland“The new president of Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology says issues regarding alleged plagiarism at the college should be resolved soon. Dr Feargal Barry will take up the new role this autumn, having previously been Vice President of Limerick Institute of Technology …” (more)

[Galway Bay FM, 20 August]

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Internet’s role in rise in student plagiarism exaggerated, study suggests

Posted in Legal issues, Teaching on August 18th, 2015 by steve

USA“Older papers with unattributed material had higher similarity index than more recent ones. With its millions of websites, readily available student essays and Wikipedia entries, the internet is often cited as a major reason for the rise in plagiarism …” (more)

[Jack Grove, Times Higher Education, 18 August]

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Turnitin faces new questions about efficacy of plagiarism detection software

Posted in Legal issues, Research on July 14th, 2015 by steve

USA“Plagiarism detection software from vendors such as Turnitin is often criticized for labeling clumsy student writing as plagiarism. Now a set of new tests suggests the software lets too many students get away with it …” (more)

[Carl Straumsheim, InsideHigherEd, 14 July]

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GMIT probe ‘raised more questions than answers’

Posted in Fees, access and admissions, Governance and administration on June 30th, 2015 by steve

Ireland“The chairman of Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has agreed to probe further the expenditure of €436,000 by Galway Mayo Institute of Technology (GMIT) on a plagiarism investigation. Fianna Fáil TD, John McGuinness said it was ‘incredible’ …” (more)

[Dara Bradley, Galway City Tribune, 29 June]

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