Are Essay Mills Threatening the Integrity of Academia?

Posted in Legal issues, Teaching on October 7th, 2020 by steve

Ireland“Academic misconduct is an age-old practice. It dates back to the Ming and Qing dynasties, when Chinese students used miniature copies of books to cheat in their civil-service examinations. Fast forward a few thousand years, and cheating in academia is still alive and well – it has simply taken on a new, more sophisticated form …” (more)

[Naoise D’Arcy, University Times, 7 October]

Tags: , , ,

‘Academic Discipline Integration by Contract Cheating Services and Essay Mills’

Posted in Legal issues, Teaching on January 7th, 2020 by steve

Abstract: Contract cheating services are marketing to students at discipline level, using increasingly sophisticated techniques. The discipline level reach of these services has not been widely considered in the academic integrity literature. Much of the academic understanding of contract cheating is not discipline specific, but the necessary solutions to this problem may need to vary by discipline. This paper reviews current knowledge about contract cheating services at the discipline level, including summarising four studies that rank the relative volume of contract cheating within different academic disciplines. The reviewed studies show high volumes of contract cheating transactions in the disciplines of Business and Computing. Examples of discipline level contract cheating research and service advertising are provided. The main contribution of the paper is an analysis of the discipline level reach by contract cheating services as seen through an analysis of Google search results from the United Kingdom. This analysis of 19 discipline groups uses measures of organic search engine results, paid results and competition. Three discipline groups are shown as currently being heavily exploited by essay mills; these are: (1) Architecture, Building and Planning, (2) Computer Science and (3) Law. In addition, the discipline group of Creative Arts and Design is shown to be at risk of future exploitation. The paper recommends that academics are made aware about continual change in the contract cheating industry including the involved marketing taking place at discipline level. The paper concludes with a call to action for academia to develop discipline specific solutions to contract cheating.

Lancaster, T, Academic Discipline Integration by Contract Cheating Services and Essay Mills. Journal of Academic Ethics (2020), doi:10.1007/s10805-019-09357-x. Published: 7 January 2020.

Tags: ,

Exam Mills

Posted in Legal issues, Teaching on November 18th, 2019 by steve

IrelandDrivetime‘s John Cooke talks to students in UL about exam mills, and Deirdre Stritch, programme manager with QQI, talks to Mary about the new rules that have been introduced to clamp down on academic cheating …” (mp3)

[RTÉ – Drivetime, 18 November]

Tags: , , , , ,

Crackdown on third level essay writing services begins in wake of anti-cheating laws

Posted in Legal issues, Teaching on November 15th, 2019 by steve

Ireland“A legal crackdown on the growing number of services writing essays or other assignments for third-level students is under way. New anti-cheating laws came into effect last week making it an offence either to provide or advertise cheating services or to publish adverts promoting such services …” (more)

[Katherine Donnelly, Independent, 15 November]

Tags: , ,

Academic cheating using paid-for essays ‘poses threat to integrity of third level’

Posted in Legal issues, Teaching on November 14th, 2019 by steve

Ireland“Academic cheating using online ‘essay mills’ is posing a significant threat to the integrity of higher education, the State body responsible for policing standards in third level has warned. International research indicates there has been a sharp rise in written-to-order essays and dissertations, with as many as one in seven graduates admitting to paying someone to undertake an assignment for them …” (more)

[Carl O’Brien, Irish Times, 14 November]

Tags: , ,

A small spanner in the works for the essay mill cheats

Posted in Governance and administration, Legal issues on April 9th, 2019 by steve

“PayPal is to stop providing services to essay mills – it is really good news. However, it is but one small step on the road to addressing this malign and corrosive influence on higher education …” (more)

[Paul Greatrix, Wonkhe, 8 April]

Tags: ,

€8 a page – the price of cheating

Posted in Governance and administration on April 8th, 2019 by steve

Ireland“News in today’s Guardian that ‘US essay mill firm targets new students through WhatsApp’ does not really surprise me – I’m sure essay mills have many clever ways to attract the attention of students who choose not to write their own essays. What does surprise me is the price, it is £7 per page (just over €8) …” (more)

[Careful With That Axe, Eugene, 8 April]

Tags: , ,

‘Essay mills’ offering bespoke assignments to students to be made illegal

Posted in Governance and administration on October 29th, 2018 by steve

Ireland“Websites offering bespoke essays to those in third level education are to be made illegal. New laws are being introduced to make cheating more difficult for students who are ‘gaming the system’. It will also be an offence if a person or company advertises the provision of these essay mill services …” (more)

[Irish Examiner, 29 October]

Tags: , , , ,

15% of students admit to buying essays. What can universities do about it?

Posted in Governance and administration on October 18th, 2018 by steve

“New research on plagiarism at university has revealed students are surprisingly unconcerned about a practice known as ‘contract cheating’. The term ‘contract cheating’ was coined in 2006, and describes students paying for completed assessments. At that time, concerns over the outsourcing of assessments were in their infancy, but today, contract cheating is big business …” (more)

[Jedidiah Evans, The Conversation, 18 October]

Tags: , ,

Tough on essay mills, Tough on the causes of essay mills

Posted in Teaching on October 17th, 2018 by steve

“A campaign to outlaw essay mills in the UK has been running for a few months and 17 October marks the international day of action against contract cheating …” (more)

[Fanni Zombor, Wonkhe, 16 October]

Tags: , ,

University chiefs ‘urge education secretary to ban essay mills’

Posted in Legal issues, Teaching on September 27th, 2018 by steve

“More than 40 university chiefs are reported to have written to the education secretary calling for a ban on so-called ‘essay mills’. The vice-chancellors have called for companies who offer essay-writing services to be made illegal amid fears they are undermining the integrity of degree courses …” (more)

[Guardian, 27 September]

Tags: , ,

Essay writing services must be banned to stop cheating, say academics

Posted in Legal issues, Teaching on September 1st, 2018 by steve

“The British government has been urged to outlaw essay writing services that allow university students to pay for coursework for their degrees, after a study found that use of ‘contract cheating’ is rapidly increasing around the world. The study by Prof Philip Newton at Swansea University’s medical school collected evidence from surveys taken among students in higher education …” (more)

[Richard Adams, Guardian, 31 August]

Tags: , ,

‘Universities to blame’ for profiteering essay mills

Posted in Legal issues, Teaching on August 15th, 2018 by steve

“I’ve written here quite a few times now, including most recently here but also here, about the corrosive effect of the profiteering essay mill industry and the growing threat it represents to the integrity of UK higher education …” (more)

[Paul Greatrix, Wonkhe, 14 August]

Tags: , ,

To tackle student cheating, we need to reimagine university assessment

Posted in Teaching on June 13th, 2018 by steve

“Ghost-writing academic work is nothing new but until relatively recently it was out of reach of most students. Now essay mills have started rolling on an industrial scale. Their sophisticated websites offer production of a whole range of assignments up to and including dissertations and theses. If required, a typical undergraduate essay, on pretty much any topic, can be turned around in less than 24 hours …” (more)

[Jon Scott, Guardian, 13 June]

Tags: ,

Essay mill’s claims misleading, says advertising watchdog

Posted in Governance and administration, Legal issues on March 21st, 2018 by steve

“An online essay mill that claimed to provide a ‘guaranteed grade, every time’ has been criticised by the Advertising Standards Authority for ‘misleading’ statements on its website. In what has been hailed as a ‘landmark ruling’, the advertising watchdog upheld two complaints about UK Essays lodged by the Quality Assurance Agency …” (more)

[Jack Grove, Times Higher Education, 21 March]

Tags: ,

Psst … Need a PhD thesis? That’ll be $63,000

Posted in Research on February 26th, 2018 by steve

“Many readers may have heard whisper of companies that offer a range of writing services – some more ethical than others. Although some companies offer to edit and polish writing, others can write PhD research proposals, masters’ theses, or even a dissertation …” (more)

[Retraction Watch, 22 February]

Tags: , ,

The crumbling façade: my experience working for an essay mill

Posted in Life on December 12th, 2017 by steve

“According to a recent UK Government-backed review, academics are topping up their earnings by writing for ‘essay mill’ sites which help students to cheat in their assignments. SA Mills was one of those academics and recounts the experience here; offering an insight into the allure of such opportunities for those either out of work or in precarious positions, as well as the transactional nature of working for these services and with their clients …” (more)

[LSE Impact of Social Sciences, 12 December]

Tags: ,

It’s not essay mills that are doing the grinding

Posted in Legal issues, Teaching on May 26th, 2017 by steve

“Notwithstanding the rejection of an amendment to the UK’s Higher Education and Research Bill that would have outlawed ‘cheating services’, political and public concern about essay mills remains at a historic high …” (more)

[Stuart Macdonald, Times Higher Education, 25 May]

Tags: , ,

Like Welfare Cheats, Essay Mills are not the Problem the Government is Suggesting They Are

Posted in Governance and administration on May 22nd, 2017 by steve

Ireland“Richard Bruton, Minister for Education and Skills, has identified a problem that few others considered as such: ‘unfair’ essay mills, whereby students buy their written academic work online. Leaving aside the fact that there is little evidence – either anecdotally or seriously – to indicate that essay mills are indeed a problem large enough to distort student outcomes, this seems like yet another example of the government diverting our attention away from more important concerns …” (more)

[University Times, 21 May]

Tags:

Essays and TCD entrance requirements

Posted in Fees, access and admissions on May 18th, 2017 by steve

Ireland“Sir, – The Minister for Education speaks of the need to legislate to stamp out cheating by the use of ‘essay mills’ that sell essays on demand (‘Bruton outlines bill to tackle cheating in education system’, May 15th). Trinity College Dublin does not share the Minister’s concern. Trinity admit students to study law, of all things, on the basis of an essay whose author is unknown …” (more)

[John McAvoy, Irish Times, 18 May]

Tags: , ,