For some time now universities have been concerned about the prevalence of plagiarism and contracting out of thesis writing to expert writers. There are a number of options that have increased both in availability and popularity. The common four are:
a) Plagiarism from established texts.
b) Plagiarism from peers.
c) Paying peers to write thesis on your behalf.
d) Paying a professional thesis writer to prepare your thesis.
Plagiarism is the copying of someone else’s work without referencing that work. More and more students are doing this as the availability of works across the internet make it easy to find and copy useful works. There is now software available that will identify this kind of plagiarism and in the UK at least, this is availble to university lecturers. This is intelligent software that can match swathes of text to text available on the internet and will flag up matches. Lecturers can then scrutinise the students’ work and the identified internet text to establish whether or not plagiarism has taken place. Of course, plagiarism is often identified by the lecturer who has identified the work from their own knowledge of available texts either in books or held electronically.
More difficult is identifying the latest form of cheating, which is where students pay someone else to prepare their thesis but submit it as their own work. There are a large number of organisations that will source a professional writer to do this. Some will even try to write in your own style to disguise that the thesis has been profesisonally prepared. A number of freelancers do this through the internet making it very easy for students to find them. This is difficult to identify but lecturers are beginning to scrutinise thesis to establish if they are very different from previous works handed in by that student, either in level of ability or style of expression. In some universities they are considering vivas (oral questioning) to interrogate the student on the contents of the thesis so that this type of cheating is exposed.
Some past students have been entrpreneurial with their thesis. If they have scored well, they will then sell these onto students to use. Again the internet facilitates the marketing of such services. This, again, is difficult to identify, especially if the original thesis was prepared by a student from a different educational establishment. However, the same type of detection methods as for professional thesis can be used; scrutinising the paper for ability level and form of expression. Students are becoming quick to counter this by rewriting any bought thesis in their own style and including some content in other pieces of work handed in to lecturers. this makes detection almost impossible.