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


Bagshaw, E. (2016, May 26). University of Sydney’s medical school in second cheating controversy. Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved from

Bretag, T. (2017). Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency, Good Practice Note: Addressing contract cheating to safeguard academic integrity  Retrieved from

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

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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

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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

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 (2017). How big of a problem in contract cheating?   Retrieved from

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

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

University of Alberta. (n.d.). Student Conduct and Accountability: Proving Misconduct.   Retrieved from

Walker, M., & Townley, C. (2012). Contract cheating: A new challenge for academic honesty? Journal of Academic Ethics, 10(1), 27–44.

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


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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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