Eliminating the successor to plagiarism?

Identifying the usage of contract cheating sites

Robert Clarke

Thomas Lancaster


The paper identifies a growing problem, referred to as contract cheating, considered to be the successor to pure plagiarism. Contract cheating is defined as the submission of work by students for academic credit which the students have paid contractors to write for them. The usage of one particular site, RentACoder, known to be used for contract cheating is manually monitored. RentACoder is a site where computer solutions are written to contract for legitimate uses but can also be used for students to cheat. An exhaustive study shows that 12.3% of bid requests placed on RentACoder are identified as contract cheating. The primary study reported in the paper quantifies and discusses these contract cheaters. Out of 236 identified contract cheaters only 8.1% of these have made only a single bid request. Over half of the 236 cheaters have previously requested between two and seven pieces of work. The paper argues that this shows that this form of cheating is becoming habitual. The primary study identifies that as well as the usual types of individual students using the services of RentACoder non-originality agencies also appear to be working as subcontractors offering to complete student assignments. This adds an extra layer of complexity to methods of tracking cheating students. The paper concludes by advising that more automated detection techniques are needed and advises that assessments and academic policies need to be redesigned to remove the potential for contract cheating to be committed.

This paper was submitted to the International Integrity & Plagiarism Conference which ran between 2004-2014. The paper was peer reviewed by an independent editorial board and features in the conference proceedings.