Curtin understands that students have busy lives and that working, studying and completing assignments can be stressful. Sometimes, this can lead to a decision to take a shortcut with your academic work. You may be tempted to use help from a friend, family member or an online company offering writing or tutoring services, but this may put you at risk for contract cheating and potential blackmail.
What is contract cheating?
Contract cheating (also known as assessment outsourcing or ghost writing) can be defined as submitting written or creative work which has been drafted or produced by someone else – including friends, family or a paid contracting service, and claiming authorship for it. This includes:
- Allowing someone or an organisation to draft or complete an assessment task on your behalf
- Contracting another person to do the work for you
- Purchasing work from another source
- Allowing or contracting another person to edit and substantially change your work.
The following programs are available at Curtin:
- The Academic Integrity Program (AIP) is a compulsory educational program that provides information about contract cheating.
- The Academic Integrity tab in Blackboard has cartoons, comics and videos that discuss contract cheating.
You are at risk of contract cheating if you ask someone to:
- Complete an assignment for you
- Substantially edit your assignment
- Do your university work, with our without compensation
- Check your work through Turnitiin
- Check test or quiz answers
- Sit a test or quiz for you
- Provide someone with your login details
You may also be at risk of contact cheating if you provide information to people or organisations outside of Curtin, such as:
- Your student number and student card details
- Assignment questions or briefs
- Lecture notes
- Marking rubrics or marking guides
Curtin offers the following study support options:
- Study support
- Online programs and resources for writing, research and English language
- Referencing resources
- Unihub events and workshops
- Studiosity – 24/7 access to FREE online personalised feedback for short writing submissions. Or chat live to real advisors who are experts in their fields and have your questions answered quickly. Access Studiosity through your Blackboard units.
Other options include:
- Asking for an extension from your lecturer
- Talking to your tutor or unit coordinator
At university you develop a range of new skills, knowledge and experience by engaging in your studies. If you contract cheat you will not gain these fundamental skills and this may put you in a situation where you lack the skill-set required to succeed in your chosen profession.
Tutors can be helpful in some instances, however you are responsible for setting the boundaries for appropriate assistance. If at any point the tutor begins to substantially edit or complete parts or your assessment then this becomes contract cheating.
If you are considering hiring an editor or asking someone to proofread or edit your work, make sure to clearly outline your expectations for the scope of the edit. The person should only highlight or indicate where there are problems rather than changing the text for you. If you provide them with an electronic copy of your document it is preferable for them to
use commenting tools rather than to change the work.
Professional editors, as part of their usual role in document production, often make changes within the document. However, as a student submitting your work for assessment, accepting the changes of an editor may be seen as contract cheating or plagiarism as you are claiming the work of someone else as your own.
The elements of a document that an editor may be able to check for you are:
- typographical and spelling errors
- errors in word usage
- errors in grammar and syntax
- errors and inconsistencies in punctuation
- consistent use of formatting, capitalisation, abbreviations, or systems of measurement
(metric versus imperial)
- consistent and accurate application of academic writing conventions such as captions for tables/figures, formatting of in-text citations and referencing
- connections and transitions between paragraphs and sections.
When reviewing the editor’s comments you can implement corrections for spelling, punctuation, formatting and style but should carefully consider recommendations that could substantially alter the meaning, the flow, or the originality of your document. As much as possible consider recommended sentence or paragraph changes and put them into your own words.
If you plan to use an editor for your thesis it is recommended that you:
- discuss your desire to use an editor with your supervisor before approaching an editor
- discuss the scope of the edit with your supervisor and ensure that the editor understands and agrees to apply this when reviewing your document
- indicate within the appropriate section of your theses that an editor was used and include a description of the scope of the edit (The Royal Roads University, n.d.).
- Follow the guidelines for the editing of research theses by professional editors.
Information taken from Academic integrity – Guide for students [pdf 6.7 MB]
Contract cheating is considered academic misconduct and the penalty is an annul (ANN) for the unit in which the cheating occurred. This means that you will not receive credit for the unit.
For a second finding of misconduct related to contract cheating the result is an annul (ANN) for all units that the student is enrolled in for that academic period.
Curtin’s ability to detect contract cheating is continuously improving through technological advancement and staff training.
This means that even after graduation, the risks associated with contract cheating continue. Your degree may be rescinded if we find you engaged in contract cheating during your studies.
Curtin is also aware that some students have been blackmailed by the people and organisations who completed the work the student submitted.
Students who use contract cheating services are at risk of being blackmailed. Sometimes the contracted organisation or person will threaten to tell Curtin about the cheating if the student does not pay. This blackmail could be one-off or ongoing.
AIP@curtin.edu.au at Curtin for help.
Curtin University acknowledges the contribution of UNSW for some information on this page.