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  • Writer's pictureKane Murdoch

The nail that sticks up

Evening all,


By way of explanation for no post, last week (and this) involved public holidays cutting off the week, so of course I had to jam everything into four days.


On top of that, last week we received another lovely missive from our friends who provide contract cheating services to students. I'm not talking about a random essay website, but rather providing students with the deluxe service, logging into learning management systems on their behalf and posing as the student themselves inside universities. Doing their quizzes, writing their papers, giving their presentations for students. I've touched on this before, and it has been reported before here. Yeah that was me.


The problem is much worse than the article details, but you get the flavour. For some more flavours, the Sydney Morning Herald reported more on contract cheating this past week, here and here (use 12 foot ladder to get past paywalls). Some good comments from academic integrity superstars in there to boot.


Now, aside from general interest, the reason I mention it is because between myself and the team, we've received an even dozen threats of varying intensity in the past year. And we're pretty tired of it. Because our detection techniques are more advanced, we are the nail that these fuckers are trying to hammer. Good luck with that. We're gonna go until the job is done. But to my mind the bigger question is why, with rare exceptions, so few unis have ever found what we have. It's there in your own data. All it takes is will and skill. Skill can be taught and bought, but will can't. Why is it that those who are responsible for assuring the validity of degrees, who get paid the big bucks, turn away every time? I know for a fact one DVC (Academic) instructed the equivalent team to mine to stop looking for cases which they knew were there, and were already finding. How do they sleep at night? On a big bed covered in cash I presume.


Meanwhile, one uni I'm aware of received a bomb threat as a direct result of an academic integrity investigation. All the members of my team have been threatened, had their families threatened. A comment received in this very website threatened to gang rape my wife and decapitate me. Delightful repartee, I'm sure you agree. But they did this because we shone a light on them and their business, in a systematic and implacable way. We became a nail.


So, looping back to those articles, why will unis not act in the best interests of their students, their staff, or even their ongoing existence as trustworthy institutions? You tell me and we'll both know.


But I'll end by saying two things. First, none of this will end until we act. I'm doing my bit, my team are doing theirs, and as a fallible institution (as are many unis) my uni is doing more than any I've seen to look this problem directly in the face and act.


Second, there are things unis and staff can do right now. In the paper Cath Ellis and I published recently, we hope we provided a really solid guide. Have a read, don't hesitate to contact me for a chat to unpack.


But further, if your uni's response to contract cheating is to do nothing and hope academics pick it up, just stop. You need tools and a team to investigate, because you won't get anywhere one by one, or with time poor academics doing this as "service". This is a mass issue, across multiple national education sectors. So get serious. We created our software Wiroo because we needed a serious response. There are other tools out there, unis should be discussing them and paying for them. Unis can afford it. To say they can't is a lie. One uni in my vicinity spends 15 million dollars a year on Turnitin to respond to plagiarism, which is an absolute nothingburger in terms of seriousness. It means shit, in the grand scheme of things. If you're an academic integrity professional dealing with cases of plagiarism, or even AI (due to the bullshit AI detectors), push back and start looking for real stuff. If you don't know how, I'll come teach you where to start. To beat these bastards, every single one of us in this space, every institution, needs to be a nail. Only by doing that will their easy money tap be turned off.


Anywho, my train is pulling in to my stop, so until next time,

KM

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4件のコメント


jakomi mathews
jakomi mathews
4月05日

Kane. You hit the nail on the head! When I was a lecturer 2011-13 Back then these universities did not want to know about having to fail students due to cheating. That is 100% the reason I decided to stop being a lecturer. It was clear said institutions did not care about academic integrity or the harms that may come form it with such students going on to do jobs they technically could not do.


These institutions definitively have the money to be proactive about this - however the issue is that its about priorities and it is low on their VC's priority list as they get paid bonuses based on student revenue. If we knock this over they get…


いいね!
Kane Murdoch
Kane Murdoch
4月05日
返信先

Seems to me that oversight and governance is completely asleep at the wheel, or perhaps put to sleep by executives.

いいね!

Joseph Thibault
Joseph Thibault
4月02日

dude.


いいね!
Kane Murdoch
Kane Murdoch
4月02日
返信先

Thanks mate :)

いいね!
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