Academic integrity violations in Canada that made the news 2010-2019

February 3, 2020
Significant Incidents of Academic Misconduct in Canada 2010-2019

Significant Incidents of Academic Misconduct in Canada 2010-2019

At the end of the fall 2019 term, there were three instances of academic misconduct in Canadian higher education that made the news:

Brandon University, Manitoba

Students in a second-year nursing class at Brandon University faced disciplinary action after a final exam for the 2019 fall semester was deemed “compromised” (Klowak, 2020). The course in question was 71:250 Nursing Foundations II course, taught by Dr. Ali Salman. Although the total number of students implicated was not officially released,the media reported that between 46 and 48 students may have been involved. One news report printed a photo of a de-identified letter, signed by the Dean of the Faculty of Health Studies, Dr. John Moraros, indicating that the students would be offered the opportunity to re-take their final exam, with the caveat that the maximum they could earn on the rewritten exam would be 70%. Although the incident took place at the end of the fall 2019 term, details did not appear in the news until early 2020.

Simon Fraser University, British Columbia

On the west coast, the media reported that the Burnaby RCMP investigated allegations of someone impersonating a student during a final exam. Both the test writer and the student were arrested. The incident allegedly occurred on December 12, 2019, though details of the story did not appear the media for almost a week afterwards.  Details about the individuals involved or the course the final exam related to were not released.

Saskatchewan Polytechnic, Saskatchewan

Twenty-two (22) construction electricians had their journeyperson certificates suspended or cancelled as a result of an investigation into exam cheating at Saskatchewan Polytechnic in Moosejaw. Saskatchewan Apprenticeship and Trade Certification Commission (SATCC) and an unidentified third- party investigation firm found that apprentices had accessed unauthorized materials during their exams, which included Red Seal interprovincial certification exams, one of the highest credentials available to journeypeople in Canada.

News stories over the past decade

The investigation reportedly began 18 months prior, with the cheating having been found to occur between 2015 and 2018. Two individuals were implicated in the scandal. CBC reported that an instructor who was found to have been giving out exam answers to students was fired following the investigation. In addition, an SATCC staff member was also found responsible and resigned.

These reports got me asking what other cases of academic misconduct were reported by the press in the past decade. I did some digging and documented some of the most prominent cases in this report.

One of the findings that surprised me was that the media have reported at least three cases in the past decade that resulted in arrests in Canada for contract cheating through exam impersonation. In addition the 2019 case at Simon Fraser University, there was an arrest made in 2016 at Concordia University and another two years prior for a similar situation at the University of Waterloo.

The report I pulled together documents key cases covered by the media in the past decade. Here’s to doing better in the decade ahead.

Get the full report:

Eaton, S. E. (2020).  An Inquiry into Major Academic Integrity Violations in Canada: 2010-2019. Calgary, AB: University of Calgary. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/1880/111483

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Sarah Elaine Eaton is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, and the Educational Leader in Residence, Academic Integrity, University of Calgary, Canada. Opinions are my own and do not represent those of the University of Calgary.


University of Calgary activities planned for 2019 International Day of Action Against Contract Cheating

October 16, 2019

This year, the Univeristy of Calgary has activities planned for students, faculty, staff, teaching assistants and other members of the university community. We have activities being led by students all over campus including:

  • Student’s Union, Mac Hall – Lunch time awareness event and game.
  • Taylor Family Digital Library – Interactive prize wheel game.
  • Health Research Innovation Centre (HRIC) Atrium – Foothills Campus – Interactive prize wheel game.
  • Roaming Whiteboards – Social media campaign – Students Union representatives.

 

I will document the student-focused initiatives in another post after the Day of Action.

We have also launched the University of Calgary’s own social media campaign called #UHaveIntegrity. Here’s a photo of our shiny new laptop stickers that we’ll be giving out starting tomorrow:

#Uhaveintegrity sticker on Mac small

In this post, I highlight two workshops, designed specifically to help academic staff and teaching assistants better understand what contract cheating is and how to address it.

Workshop #1: Contract Cheating: What professors and teaching assistants need to know

Wednesday, October 16, 2019 – 10:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.

How do you know if your students are buying their academic work from the Internet? How prevalent is this practice, anyway? How do you talk to your students about the issue of contract cheating? Get answers to these questions and more in this interactive workshop. Find out the latest research about academic outsourcing and get resources to help.

Participants will:

Gain insights into how the contract cheating industry really works

Learn what the latest research says

Learn practical ways to detect contract cheating and how to talk to students about it.

Facilitator: Sarah Elaine Eaton, PhD. is the Educational Leader in Residence, Academic Integrity, at the University of Calgary. Her research focuses on academic integrity, misconduct and contract cheating.

Register here.

Workshop #2: Pay-to-Pass: Knowledge as a commodity

Wednesday, October 16, 2019 – 12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m.

With the aid of social media, companies offering study ‘help’ and better grades have proliferated the post-secondary sector at an alarming rate.  Students are deliberately or inadvertently breaching academic integrity regulations in the search of an easier solution to improve academic performance. This interactive workshop examines how some of these companies have created the ease and (sometimes) anonymity of online uploads and downloads.

Participants will:

Learn the scope of the pay-to-pass phenomenon

Share and discuss their experiences with pay-to-pass companies

Brainstorm solutions to this rising crisis.

Facilitators: Ebba Kurz,  PhD., Associate Dean, Undergraduate Health and Science Education and Director, O’Brien Centre for the Bachelor of Health Sciences Program, Cumming School of Medicine

Nancy Chibry, Associate Dean, Undergraduate Programs and Student Affairs, Faculty of Science

These workshops are free of charge and open to all members of the campus community.

Register here.

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This blog has had over 2 million views thanks to readers like you. If you enjoyed this post, please “like” it or share it on social media. Thanks!

Sarah Elaine Eaton is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, and the Educational Leader in Residence, Academic Integrity, University of Calgary, Canada. Opinions are my own and do not represent those of the University of Calgary.


Multilingual essay mills – New article

August 6, 2019

Notos coverMy colleague, Roswita Dressler and I have just had a new paper published. It all started when I was at an academic integrity conference a couple of years back. I was sitting next to a colleague who works in a language other than English (LOTE). The colleague suggested that contract cheating (e.g. essay mills and other forms of outsourced academic work) was a problem of the English-speaking world, asserting that there simply wouldn’t be enough of a market in other languages.

I thought to myself, “Challenge accepted!” I recruited Roswita Dressler to help me undertake a small-scale pilot study. We both have a background in language teaching and between us, we have some level of proficiency in about four languages. We were also curious about the market for academic outsourcing for younger audiences, in elementary, middle and high school.

 

The questions that guided our project were:

  1. What evidence exists that online providers offer academic work in languages other than English?
  2. To what degree are K-12 students targeted by these online providers?

We framed our study specifically within the Canadian context.

Our results showed that not only do commercial contract cheating companies market to specifically to students in Canada, they target children as young as Grade six (approximately 11-12 years old). And yes, we found strong evidence that contract cheating happens in languages other than English (ten of them, in fact).

To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study on contract cheating published in Canada.

The Alberta Teachers Association is the publisher and copyright holder of this article. They have given us permission to post the article in our university’s digital repository. You can access a copy of it free of charge from here:

Eaton, S. E., & Dressler, R. (2019). Multilingual essay mills: Implications for second language teaching and learning. Notos, 14(2), 4-14. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/1880/110695

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This blog has had over 2 million views thanks to readers like you. If you enjoyed this post, please “like” it or share it on social media. Thanks!

Sarah Elaine Eaton is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, Canada. Opinions are my own and do not represent those of the Werklund School of Education or the University of Calgary.


Contract cheating: A view from three Calgary post-secondary institutions

May 24, 2019

LSAC - (Cover slide) Rossi, Eaton, Toye & Chibry

So excited to be presenting with my colleagues, Silvia Rossi (Mount Royal University), Maragaret A. Toye (Bow Valley College) and Nancy Chibry (University of Calgary) next week at the Learning Specialists Association of Canada national conference in Olds, Alberta. I am excited that sessions on contract cheating are getting accepted at national conferences in Canada. To the best of my knowledge this will be the first time that contract cheating will be talked about at this particular conference.

Check out our slides on Slideshare:

Handouts:

How to cite this presentation (APA, 6th ed.):

Rossi, S., Eaton, S. E., Toye, M. A., & Chibry, N. (2019, May 27). Contract cheating: A view from three Calgary post-secondary institutions. Paper presented at the Learning Specialists Association of Canada (LSAC) National Conference, Olds, AB.

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This blog has had over 2 million views thanks to readers like you. If you enjoyed this post, please “like” it or share it on social media. Thanks!

Sarah Elaine Eaton is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, Canada. Opinions are my own and do not represent those of the Werklund School of Education or the University of Calgary.


The ethics of outsourcing: Contract cheating in the health professions

February 15, 2019

This morning I had the pleasure of providing a continuing education session to the Orthopaedic Surgeons at their City Wide (Grand) Rounds. The session was offered live at the Foothills campus and participants from various hospitals around the city joined by video conference.

2019 02 15 Ortho CWR Poster[1]Learning Objectives:

  • Define and explain what contract cheating is
  • Explain how the global contract cheating industry works
  • Understand the impact of contract cheating among medical and health program students

Here’s a copy of the title slide:

Title slide - Orthopaedic surgery rounds

References:

Bagshaw, E. (2016, May 26). University of Sydney’s medical school in second cheating controversy. Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved from https://www.smh.com.au/education/university-of-sydneys-medical-school-in-second-cheating-controversy-20160525-gp3g3h.html

Bretag, T. (2017). Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency, Good Practice Note: Addressing contract cheating to safeguard academic integrity  Retrieved from https://www.teqsa.gov.au/latest-news/publications/good-practice-note-addressing-contract-cheating-safeguard-academic

Clarke, R., & Lancaster, T. (2006). Eliminating the successor to plagiarism: Identifying the usage of contract cheating sites. Paper presented at the Second International Plagiarism Conference, Gateshead, UK.

Curtis, G. J., & Clare, J. (2017). How Prevalent is contract cheating and to what extent are students repeat offenders? Journal of Academic Ethics, 15(2), 115-124. doi:10.1007/s10805-017-9278-x

Eaton, S. E. (2018). Contract cheating: A Canadian perspective.  Retrieved from http://blogs.biomedcentral.com/bmcblog/2018/07/24/contract-cheating-a-canadian-perspective/

Eaton, S. E., & Edino, R. I. (2018). Strengthening the research agenda of educational integrity in Canada: A review of the research literature and call to action. Journal of Educational Integrity, 14(1). Retrieved from https://edintegrity.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1007/s40979-018-0028-7 doi:https://doi.org/10.1007/s40979-018-0028-7

Hosney, M. I., & Fatima, S. (2014). Attitude of students towards cheating and plagiarism: University case study. Journal of Applied Sciences, 14(8), 748-757. doi:10.3923/jas.2014.748.757

International Center for Academic Integrity. (2016). Institutional toolkit to combat contract cheating  Retrieved from http://integrity.fiu.edu/pdfs/Contract%20Cheating.pdf

Lancaster, T. (2018). US in first place for essays orders (not surprising), with the UK and Canada in equal second place [Tweet].   Retrieved from https://twitter.com/DrLancaster/status/1029014675198013440

Lancaster, T., & Clarke, R. (2008). The phenomena of contract cheating. In T. S. Roberts (Ed.), Student plagiarism in an online world: Problems and solutions (pp. 144-158). Hershey, PA: Idea Group Inc.

Lancaster, T., & Clarke, R. (2015). Examining contract cheating, essay mill use and academic misconduct by students on health courses.  Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/323425525_Examining_Contract_Cheating_Essay_Mill_Use_and_Academic_Misconduct_by_Students_on_Health_Courses

Newton, P. M., & Lang, C. (2016). Custom essay writers, freelancers, and other paid third parties. In T. Bretag (Ed.), Handbook of Academic Integrity (pp. 249-271). Singapore: Springer Singapore.

O’BRien, N., & Smith, A. (2015, June 6). Cheating scandal: Sydney university to review medical study unit. Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved from https://www.smh.com.au/education/cheating-scandal-sydney-university-to-review-medical-study-unit-20150606-ghi5d2.html

Plagiarism.org. (2017). How big of a problem in contract cheating?   Retrieved from http://www.plagiarism.org/blog/2017/12/12/how-big-of-a-problem-is-contract-cheating

Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (UK) (QAA). (2017). Contracting to cheat in higher education: How to address contract cheating, the use of third-party services and essay mills  Retrieved from http://www.qaa.ac.uk/en/Publications/Documents/Contracting-to-cheat-in-higher-education.pdf

Rogerson, A. M. (2017). Detecting contract cheating in essay and report submissions: process, patterns, clues and conversations. International Journal for Educational Integrity, 13(1), 10. doi:10.1007/s40979-017-0021-6

Tonkin, A. L. (2015). “Lifting the carpet” on cheating in medical school exams. BMJ: British Medical Journal, 351(August), 22-29.

Turnitin. (2013). Paying for plagiarism (webinar). Retrieved from http://go.turnitin.com/webcast/paying-for-plagiarism

University of Alberta. (n.d.). Student Conduct and Accountability: Proving Misconduct.   Retrieved from https://www.ualberta.ca/provost/dean-of-students/student-conduct-and-accountability/proving-misconduct

Walker, M., & Townley, C. (2012). Contract cheating: A new challenge for academic honesty? Journal of Academic Ethics, 10(1), 27–44. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10805-012-9150-y

If you would like  a copy of this talk, please e-mail me at seaton (at) ucalgary (dot) ca

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This blog has had over 2 million views thanks to readers like you. If you enjoyed this post, please “like” it or share it on social media. Thanks!

Sarah Elaine Eaton is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, Canada.

Opinions are my own and do not represent those of the Werklund School of Education or the University of Calgary.

 


Multilingual Essay Mills: Understanding Contract Cheating among Second Language Learners – Workshop

February 1, 2019

U of C logo - 2015As many of you know, I’ve been developing a research program on academic integrity over the past few years. Last year I began collaborating with my friend and colleague, Dr. Roswita Dressler, on a project that brings together our combined expertise in academic integrity and language learning.

It started when I noticed that almost all of the research that I’d seen about contract cheating was focused almost exclusively on services provided in English. That led us to ask ourselves what the market was students of second languages. We undertook a rapid review to help us get a general sense of the landscape. We wrote up the results and they have been accepted for publication in a peer-reviewed journal. I’ll post about it when the publication comes out later this year.

We are also doing a workshop at the University of Calgary’s Language Research Centre  to help teachers of second languages build their understanding of what the contract cheating industry is and why they need to pay attention.

Workshop description

Contract Cheating_Poster - LRC WorkshopContract cheating happens when students have a third party complete academic work on their behalf. The term was coined by UK researchers Clarke and Lancaster (2006). It includes, but it not limited to essay mills and homework completion services. Suppliers of this form of “black market” academic work exist mainly online. Students can simply upload a digital copy of their assignment instructions to a website, insert a delivery date and pay for the work by credit card. Contract cheating is big business. Owings and Nelson (2014) found the essay mill industry in the United States alone to be valued at a minimum $100 million USD. Estimates show that over 71,000 post-secondary students in Canada buy academic work online (Eaton, 2018). There is growing evidence to suggest that contract cheating is not limited to academic work completed in English, but also in a variety of world languages.

In this workshop, you will learn more about what contract cheating is, how it happens, and how second language learners can order homework tasks, essays and even theses from online providers, customized to the exact instructions of an assignment. We will discuss strategies for prevention and detection, along with an examination of what to do if you suspect a case of contract cheating among your students.

Date and time: Friday, February 15, 3:00 – 4:00 p.m.

Location: Craigie Hall, 4th floor, Room D-420

This workshop is open to the public and is free to attend.

References:

Clarke, R., & Lancaster, T. (2006). Eliminating the successor to plagiarism: Identifying the usage of contract cheating sites. Paper presented at the Second International Plagiarism Conference, Gateshead, United Kingdom.

Eaton, S. E. (2018). Contract cheating: A Canadian perspective.  Retrieved from http://blogs.biomedcentral.com/bmcblog/2018/07/24/contract-cheating-a-canadian-perspective/

Owings, S., & Nelson, J. (2014). The essay industry. Mountain Plains Journal of Business and Economics, 15, 1-21. http://www.mountainplains.org/articles/2014/General%20Research/Mountain_Plains_Journal_of_Business_and_Economics_Volume_15_2014_1-21_General_Research_Owings.pdf

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This blog has had over 2 million views thanks to readers like you. If you enjoyed this post, please “like” it or share it on social media. Thanks!

Sarah Elaine Eaton is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, Canada.

Opinions are my own and do not represent those of the Werklund School of Education or the University of Calgary.

 


2018 International Day of Action Against Contract Cheating

October 4, 2018

At the University of Calgary we will mark the International Day of Action Against Contract Cheating on October 17, 2018. We join with dozens of other institutions worldwide who have pledged their commitment to take action by registering their participate with the International Center for Academic Integrity.

ICAI Intl Day of Action 2018.jpeg

Contract cheating includes, but is not limited to, essay mills, homework completion services and impersonators for exams and even course work. Join us for an engaging and invigorating campus-wide discussion about how we tackle this complex subject.

At the University of Calgary, I’ll be co-hosting a campus-wide event with our our Academic Integrity Coordinator, Lee-Ann Penaluna, hosted by the Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning.

In this session participants will:

  • Explore what contract cheating is in a post-secondary context.
  • Explore how multi-stakeholder approaches are needed to address this complex subject.
  • Reflect on concrete ways to detect and deter contract cheating.

We are excited to announce we’ll have a special guest presentation via Skype from Dr. Thomas Lancaster, from the UK, whose is one of the world’s leading experts on contract cheating.

We will also join in the social media white board campaign, using the hashtags #excelwithintegrity and #defeatthecheat.

2018 International Day of Action Against Contract Cheating

The event is open to everyone on campus, including students, faculty, staff and others. We also welcome members of the public to find out more about what contract cheating is and how to take action to promote integrity in education. Register to attend the University of Calgary event here.

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This blog has had over 2 million views thanks to readers like you. If you enjoyed this post, please “like” it or share it on social media. Thanks!

Sarah Elaine Eaton is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, Canada.

Opinions are my own and do not represent those of the Werklund School of Education or the University of Calgary.


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