Understanding Plagiarism and Contract Cheating
At MIT we want YOU to succeed as YOU.
This means we want to see YOUR ideas and hear YOUR voice in your assessments, not someone else’s. We start with the academic values of honesty, trust, fairness, respect, responsibility, and courage. These are the basis of integrity in learning and assessment.
We want you to be honest and have courage in putting forward your own ideas. This builds trust and creates fairness for everyone in their learning – everyone has an equal chance; no one has an unfair advantage.
Using someone else’s ideas or words without proper referencing goes against the values of academic integrity.
More seriously, using someone else’s ideas or words is considered academic misconduct, often referred to as plagiarism. It’s very important that you know what plagiarism is, and what the special form of plagiarism known as “contract cheating” is, and how to avoid these.
What is plagiarism?
Plagiarism is using other people’s research, work, ideas, or expressions without giving credit to them, or acknowledging them as the source through proper referencing.
How do I avoid plagiarism in my assignments?
Once you understand what plagiarism is, you can avoid it by:
- Knowing where your idea have come from. This means you know which are your own ideas, and if you are using someone else’s idea, you know where you read or heard it.
- Ensuring that you have referenced it correctly. If you are using someone else’s idea, you need to reference it appropriately.
What is referencing?
Referencing is an academic process of acknowledging someone else’s ideas and work in your own work.
Generally, this means using quotation marks when you copy someone’s words and referring to (“referencing”) the author’s name and the year their book or article was written, after the quotation.
Each subject uses slightly different referencing systems with specific formats, so please check with your lecturer or tutor to understand what referencing style and format to use in your assignments.
Where can I get help?
You should always talk to your lecturer or tutor first if you need any academic help, and especially so that you know what they expect of you regarding academic integrity.
If you need further help, you can book an appointment with our Academic Learning Advisors or Subject Librarians via the Library website or the appointments bookings page.
What are the consequences of plagiarism?
MIT takes active steps to identify plagiarism and applies its Student Regulations to manage academic integrity breaches.
The consequences of plagiarism depend on your intentions, the learning situation and the assessment task but can be:
- a formal warning;
- a reduction in your mark or grade; and
- in some cases, expulsion from your programme of study.
For some students there may be other, lasting, consequences of plagiarism. MIT is often required to attest to the honesty and integrity of its students to third parties (for instance to the Nursing Council prior to registration as a nurse). If you have a history of cheating (including plagiarism) MIT may find itself unable to attest that you are ‘of good character’.
What is Contract Cheating?
Contract cheating (sometimes called ‘ghost-writing’) is a type of plagiarism when a student gets someone else to write an assessment or assignment which they then submit as their own work. This includes using Generative Artificial Intelligence (GenAI) services like ChatGPT.
It can involve paying a fee to a third party, but it doesn’t have to. Specifically, it doesn’t matter if:
- You are approached by someone offering to do the work, or you approach someone to ask them;
- You pay for the work done
- You use a GenAI service (i.e., ChatGPT) to create your assessment for you, or
- The work is done by a friend, family member, or a professional contract cheating company.
In all cases, if a third party - including a family member - has done the work for you, it is a very serious breach of our academic integrity expectations. We consider it as cheating. Most important of all, by using someone else’s ideas or work and passing it off as your own, you are also cheating yourself of learning.
If you use a cheating service, you are placing yourself at serious reputational risk, and are also undermining integrity values like fairness and trust and cheating your own learning.
Instead, be guided by us on how to do the right thing – talk to your lecturer about what is expected (such as referencing), seek their feedback before you submit your work, write your own ideas, and go for the honest result.
What are possible consequences of Contract Cheating?
Contract cheating is a huge and growing industry sometimes involving a lot of money, charged to students like you by people who are not interested in your learning or welfare. They are only interested in profiting from you. One hidden consequence of paying someone to write an assignment for you is that you can be blackmailed after you have paid for and used the cheating service. Students have reported that they have been threatened: if they do not pay further fees to the cheating service, their actions will be made known to their school or university. This is something you cannot afford to risk – either for your financial situation, your reputation, or your chances of graduating.
What if the organisation that has approached me is claiming to be legitimate?
It does not matter how you are contacted, or how legitimate the company might seem, Contract Cheating is still cheating.
We have evidence that cheating services are finding their way into students’ social media pages, and elsewhere. They are known to promote themselves in locations like bus stop shelters and shopping mall toilet cubicles.
These commercial “assignment help” services may present themselves as friendly, helpful, and supportive – “let us help you – we know you’re busy and stressed…” and you may not initially recognise that they are offering a cheating service.
Don’t let them fool you, these are businesses that thrive by making money off you.
What should I do if I am approached by a Contract Cheating company?
The best response to an approach from companies offering contract cheating services is to ignore them; engaging with them can be damaging to your future.
Under the New Zealand Education and Training Act section 393 (2020) it is an offence to “provide or advertise cheating services” and companies or individuals convicted of this can face a fine of up to $10,000.
MIT takes contract cheating very seriously and has been taking active steps to address our concerns with these companies directly, as we find them, including requiring them to cease using any reference to MIT and reporting the company to the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA).
As a student at MIT you have an opportunity to help stop these companies approaching MIT students by sending copies or screen shots of any communications you receive, or approaches you see, to email@example.com and we will undertake to address it with the company and report it to the NZQA.