As efforts to detect student plagiarism get more sophisticated, a university is considering bolstering the weapons in its armoury against a growing form of misconduct, “contract” cheating.
The term refers to students handing in bespoke essays purchased through essay-writing sites. But according to Mark Ridolfo, associate dean for student experience at Bournemouth University’s Business School, the phenomenon is difficult to detect and prove.
Because assignments are written from scratch, contract cheating gets around plagiarism detection software, and although other tools that detect changes in writing style exist, they can be slow, inaccurate and expensive, he said.
Detecting this kind of cheating “is almost impossible, incredibly time-consuming and, even when you have suspicions, going through to the next stage of the process [an academic offence panel] is difficult,” he said.