Contract cheating can be tricky to detect. Here are some strategies to help you:
- Use Metadata (Properties) in Word – Check to see if the name of the author matches the name of the student.
- Look for quotations or citations from journal articles that draw from the abstracts, rather than the main article.
- Look for citations, quotations or excerpts from books that only draw from excerpts available only online (e.g. Google Books, Amazon).
- Be alert to in-text citations do not match sources in the References.
- Look for a reference list with no in-text citations.
- Keep an eye out for sources that are generic, irrelevant or unrelated to the topic.
- Be alert to words or phrases repeated verbatim directly from the course outline or assignment instructions.
- Observe selective compliance to assignment instructions. Contract cheaters need to write quickly and can miss important details.
- Pay attention to suspicious broadening of the research topic – Contract cheaters tend to write broadly, not narrowly.
- Pay attention to suspiciously high writing quality, in comparison to what you might expect.
- Be alert to style – If you know your students, look for text that does not match their style. Ghostwriters will recycle material.
- Look for “Compositional dexterity” (Turnitin, 2013) – Excellent writing with poor or inaccurate research.
- Develop intolerance for “Rhetorical fluff” (Turnitin, 2013) – An attempt to try and fill up the page.
- Question references in foreign languages that you are pretty sure your student does not know.
- Look for particularly outdated sources or books that are out of print listed in the references.
Developed by: Sarah Elaine Eaton, Werklund School of Education, firstname.lastname@example.org