Contract cheating is a form of academic dishonesty in which students get others to complete their coursework for them.
This is a growing problem and ranges from the informal, such as the student asking a relative to complete their work, to formally organised cheating though the use of sophisticated tendering sites.
Such bespoke writing will not necessarily match pre-existing text, therefore it would not be picked up by traditional plagiarism detection software such as Turnitin.
There is Stylometry software available (see links below) that could potentially be used to match a student’s submissions with their previous ones and give some confidence that it was the same author. However, the packages seem to be arcane and require expertise to use, then interpret. Many are open source. There does not seem to be anything suitable for institutional deployment and regular use just yet and I have not found one with an LTI. We would need something that is easy to use.
My idea is for Instructure to build stylometry testing into canvas, so that when students submit work, or answer discussion posts, these can be flagged with a degree of confidence that the work is attributed to the same person.
The remainder of this post includes links to further information about 1) Stylometry resources, 2) Information about contract cheating and 3) some resources for institutions to aid them combat contract cheating.
1. Stylometry resources
Stylometry analysis packages
The EVL Lab’s http://evllabs.com/ flagship product is JGAAP (Java Graphical Authorship Attribution Program)
JSAN is a writing style analysis and anonymization framework. It consists of two parts:
JStylo - authorship attribution framework
Anonymouth - authorship evasion (anonymization) framework
stylo R package: provides various established analyses in the field of computational stylistics
Analyse my Writing
Jaclyn Partyka’s 2015 article, ‘Testing Authorship Attribution with Signature’ at https://sites.temple.edu/tudsc/2015/07/14/testing-authorship-attribution-with-signature/
gives a useful critique of signature http://www.philocomp.net/humanities/signature.htm
Online Authorship Attribution Tool
This compares the style of a piece of work to two previous authors, to determine if there is a match.
textometry: Textual Data Analysis Package
2. More information about Contract Cheating
Link to QAA pdf
Australian report – TERTIARY EDUCATION QUALITY AND STANDARDS AGENCY
ContractCheating.com is intended to provide an overview of the current research into contract cheating. It is provided on behalf of the originators of the contract cheating phrase, Thomas Lancaster and Robert Clarke.
Thomas Lancaster’s blog
Jiscmail list (little traffic)
3. Combatting contract cheating
Contract Cheating Toolkit
The International Center for Academic Integrity (ICAI) http://www.academicintegrity.org/icai/home.php has created an Institutional Toolkit to Combat Contract Cheating
HEA - Using Turnitin as a tool for attribution in cases of contract cheating (Robert and Clarke)
International day of action