Detecting ‘Contract Cheating’

‘Contract Cheating’ (a term first coined by Clarke and Lancaster in a 2006 paper) is basically ghostwriting in academic contexts. Students outsource their academic work to commercial essay writers who may be working for an ‘essay mill’ or freelance through a website like Fiverr. The mass production, e-commerce model and use of gig workers means the ‘fake essay’ industry is looking increasing like the fake news and fake reviews business, so I have applied some of the techniques I’ve used in those genres to fake essays.

Below are the ‘money slides’ from my recent presentation at the International Center for Academic Integrity Annual Conference (March 1 2021). (NB: This resources were developed from Business essays.)

Essay mills are currently legal – because they claim to be providing study support content rather than papers for actual submission! But the increase in their use during the pandemic is threatening the integrity of the education business so look out for legislation in this area around the globe (this has already started in the UK). Stay tuned!

One thought on “Detecting ‘Contract Cheating’

  1. […] We’ve begun to see some interesting work looking at contract cheating detection (as I have previously outlined in this blog post). Olumide Popoola has developed an alternative stylometric approach for identifying contract cheating, which shows a lot of promise. Olumide has also identified methods of differentiating paid for essays from those written by students. More information is outlined here in Olumide’s blog post. […]


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