International Day of Action on October 17 Will Draw Attention to the Growing Threat of Contract Cheating

Turnitin joins the International Center for Academic Integrity to ignite a movement against contract cheating

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Students cheat for any variety of reasons, but, in many cases, sheer desperation and fear of failing drives them to hire someone else to write their essay, do their homework, or take their exam. Researchers estimate that 8 percent of students engage third-party individuals or services to complete their work, which is a practice called “contract cheating”. On October 17, colleges and universities will draw attention to this problem as instructors, students, and administrators pledge to #DefeatTheCheat and #ExcelWithIntegrity during the 3rd Annual International Day of Action Against Contract Cheating. Click to Tweet.

The goal of International Day of Action is to unite educational institutions around the world to put an end to the contract cheating industry. It’s an initiative founded by the International Center for Academic Integrity (ICAI), whose mission is to support higher education institutions in cultivating cultures of integrity. “Educational institutions, students, citizens and governments must take a stand against the contract cheating industry,” says Dr. Tricia Bertram Gallant, ICAI Board Member. “And as educators, we must work diligently to ensure that we are facilitating and assessing learning rather than cheating. It is our ethical obligation to our students and the world.”

Turnitin is a leading provider of academic integrity solutions and believes in a balance of human interactions, policies, and technology supports to protect the value of a college degree and the institutions awarding them. “As part of our ongoing effort to bring attention and urgency around the rising threat of contract cheating, Turnitin is once again supporting the International Day of Action Against Contract Cheating,” said Turnitin CEO Chris Caren. “Turnitin is committed to providing the most effective educational tools to protect intellectual property, safeguard institutional reputations, and promote academic integrity so that degrees continue to have meaning.”

Institutions and individuals are encouraged to get involved in the International Day of Action Against Contract Cheating by signing the pledge to raise awareness and drive action about this issue; by publicly declaring their opposition with whiteboard messages that can be shared via Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook using #defeatthecheat and #excelwithintegrity; and by hosting events that will engage and inform students, faculty, staff, and leaders about the threat of contract cheating.

Turnitin, which is a sponsor of ICAI’s International Day of Action Against Contract Cheating, encourages institutions to register their #DefeatTheCheat and #ExcelWithIntegrity activities early at and to join the Facebook event.


About Turnitin
Turnitin is your partner in education with integrity. Turnitin’s originality checking and authorship investigation services ensure academic integrity, promote critical thinking, and help students improve their authentic writing. Turnitin provides instructors with the tools to prevent plagiarism, engage students in the writing process, and provide personalized feedback. More than 30 million students at 15,000 institutions in 140 countries use Turnitin, and over one billion student papers have been submitted since the company’s founding. Turnitin is headquartered in Oakland, Calif., with international offices in Newcastle, U.K., Utrecht, Netherlands, Melbourne, Australia, Seoul, Korea and throughout Latin America. @Turnitin


For the media -  Executives and academics are available for interviews and commentary.

Tweet: Colleges & students take action! International Day of Action Against Contract Cheating is Oct. 17. #DefeatTheCheat #ExcelWithIntegrity
Tags: contract cheating, academic integrity, higher education, college, student, day of action, learning, Turnitin, ICAI, International Center for Academic Integrity, paper mill, essay mill, cheating
Summary: Institutions speak out against contract cheating on Oct. 17 International Day of Action Against Contract Cheating hosted by ICAI, sponsored by Turnitin.


  • How Common Is Commercial Contract Cheating in Higher Education and Is It Increasing? A Systematic Review. An excellent summary of research just published in Frontiers in Education provides excellent background for promoting International Day of Action on October 17, 2018
  • Number of students cheating at UK universities rise by 30%
    Irish Times, 04/30/18 - Figures compiled by The Guardian from freedom of information requests to Russell Group universities – a group of 24 leading institutions that includes Oxford and Cambridge – shows the number of academic misconduct cases surged by 30%, from 2,640 to 3,721, between the academic years 2014-15 and 2016-17.
  • Why Students Cheat—and What to Do About It
    Edutopia, 04/27/18 - A 2012 Josephson Institute’s Center for Youth Ethics report revealed that more than half of high school students admitted to cheating on a test, while 74 percent reported copying their friends’ homework. A survey of 70,000 high school students across the United States between 2002 and 2015 found that 58 percent had plagiarized papers, while 95 percent admitted to cheating in some capacity.
  • Beware ‘Streisand effect’ on contract cheating, UK’s QAA hears
    Times Higher Education, 04/26/18 - Professor Newton, whose research found there are more than 1,000 essays mills operating worldwide, told delegates on 25 April that it would be unwise to have an institution-wide poster campaign about the perils of contract cheating because this would give too much publicity to these websites.
  • Crackdown on ‘contract cheating’ launched by British universities
    The Mancunion, 02/12/18 - Last year, The Daily Telegraph exposed the sheer popularity of essay mills, revealing that some 20,000 students are purchasing essays from online writing factories, with some racking up a bill of £6,500 for third-year dissertations and PhD theses. In total, the professional essay writing industry is now estimated to be worth over £100 million.
  • Cheating: Can We Be Doing More to Promote Academic Integrity?
    Faculty Focus, 05/09/18 - Depending on the study, the percentage of students who say they’ve cheated runs between 50% and 90% with more results falling on the high side of that range.
  • How serious is essay plagiarism?
    The Guardian, 12/30/17 - As a result, a Times investigation two years ago found almost 50,000 students were caught cheating in the previous three years, amounting to a so-called “plagiarism epidemic”.
  • In Nigeria, a battle against academic plagiarism heats up
    Science, 6/27/18 - There's no conclusive evidence that plagiarism is more common in poorer nations like Nigeria than in wealthier countries. But a 2017 survey of attitudes toward research misconduct in low- and middle-income countries found that respondents perceived plagiarism as "common," a team led by researchers at Stellenbosch University in South Africa reported last year in The BMJ. Similar views emerged from a 2010 survey of 133 Nigerian scientists conducted by physician Patrick Okonta of Delta State University Teaching Hospital in Otefe, Nigeria. The survey, published in 2014 in BMC Medical Ethics, found that 88% believed plagiarism and other forms of misconduct were common at their institutions.

Common Terms

  • Contract Cheating: the practice of students engaging a third-party individual or service to complete their written assessments.

  • Ghostwriting: writing for some else; sometimes used as a synonym for “contract cheating” but also an acceptable practice in many professional contexts

  • Academic Custom Writing Websites / Paper Mills / Essay Mills: “business that allows customers to commission an original piece of writing on a particular topic so that they may commit academic fraud” (source: Essay Mill (n.d.). In Wikipedia. Retrieved February 27, 2018 from

  • Plagiarism: to steal and pass off (the ideas or words of another) as one's own (source: What is Plagiarism? (n.d.). Retrieved February 27, 2018, from

  • Academic Integrity: a commitment, even in the face of adversity, to five fundamental values: honesty, trust, fairness, respect, and responsibility (source: ICAI, The Fundamental Values of Academic Integrity (Oct. 1999). Retrieved February 27, 2018, from

  • Accrediting Organization: is an organization accredited by a recognized accrediting body for its competence to audit and issue certification confirming that an organization meets the requirements of a standard (source: Accredited Registrar (n.d). In Wikipedia. Retrieved February 27, 2018 from

International Response to Contract Cheating

The United States lags behind many countries in general awareness and/or enacting legislation to combat academic misconduct and contract cheating in academia. Read below for actions taken by other countries.

United Kingdom:





Jennifer Harrison

J Harrison Public Relations Group

Amanda Zeligs-Hand


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