On December 9th, 2021, the Executive Board discussed the issue of contract cheating. As the premier academic community committed to excellence in case research, writing, and teaching, the North American Case Research Association (NACRA) is concerned about the increase in contract cheating, and the negative impact of these practices and services on academic integrity and student learning around the world.
Contract cheating has continued to increase in usage and sophistication in the past decade, and has become even more widespread during the online and remote learning and assessment of 2020-2021. Bill Loller, the VP of Product for Turnitin described the situation as “an absolute arms race” (Newton, 2018, para. 3), with one study suggesting that over 30 million students globally may be involved (Smith, 2019), and the University of New South Wales in Australia recently reporting a 400% increase (Fellner, 2020). This form of cheating involves students purchasing bespoke or often-used essays and other assignments from ghostwriting services around the world, and then submitting these as their own work. In this way, contract cheating constitutes a form of plagiarism (Ellis et al., 2018), although the purchased work is often not detected by plagiarism software. Contract cheating services and sites provide case analyses to students as “homework help,” often within a few hours or less, and sometimes with access to the official instructor’s manual. There is evidence that some students have been blackmailed by the contract cheating providers to keep silent about their practices, or to demand additional payments (Lancaster, 2018).
The NACRA Executive Board has unanimously adopted a statement on contract cheating, and ask all members, case teachers and instructors to abide by the following:
- Our members pledge to respect the copyright and instructor-only purpose of published cases and instructor manuals, and to keep model case answers and analyses secure.
- Case teachers and instructors further educate their students about the unethical and potentially dangerous practices of contract cheating and ghostwriting, as part of the negative impact of cheating.
- Case teachers and instructors develop course assignments and assessment methods that are resistant to contract cheating, and to share effective mitigation methods.
- We stand in solidarity with the International Center for Academic Integrity’s International Day of Action Against Contract Cheating, and other initiatives to find legal and market solutions to contract cheating.