What you need to know about contract cheating as a university student

Everyone can use some help throughout the learning process. But, it’s important to know who to ask for help from, particularly when it comes to writing.

September 26, 2022

By: Karen Rosenberg, PhD

Contract cheating, the process of hiring a third-party company to complete your assignment, is a growing business scam. Companies target stressed-out students and offer to write their papers and exams for them. These companies don’t mention that this is called contract cheating and can get students into real trouble.

Students don’t buy papers because they want to cheat the system. Rather, cheating usually happens because a student wants to succeed and fears that they don’t have what it takes to succeed on their own.

As a McMaster student, know that you’re not alone. There’s a compassionate community of professionals dedicated to student academic success. If you’re ever in a position where you’re feeling unsure or need some help, make the most of what McMaster has to offer.

Here are some tips to help you get started.

When we regularly share photos, memes and clips online, it can be hard to remember that academic communities, including McMaster, have specific rules around using work created by others. If students break those rules, even if they don’t mean to, it can cause harm to the student and the McMaster community as a whole.

How can we act with academic integrity?

Write all of your papers and exams yourself. Sounds obvious, right? Keep in mind that contract cheating companies hire marketing experts to convince students that it’s not a big deal to pay someone to do the work. Don’t fall for this misinformation!

Learn the difference between legit support and cheating. Start with McMaster’s Library Guide on Academic Integrity.

Unsure if an activity is allowed or not?

Ask. Email your course instructor and ask for clarification.

Keep in mind that while some activities are never allowed (like having others do your work for you) sometimes the rules are less clear, such as the specifics of how you are allowed to collaborate with your classmates on particular assignments.

Did you know that you can actually self-plagiarize?

If you hand in work that was assessed in another class without permission from the instructor who assessed it, that’s considered self-plagiarism.

In addition to reading the Library Guide, you can also check out McMaster’s policy for yourself on the Office of Academic Integrity’s website.

Writing in university is hard. At McMaster, you will have to do writing and research that you have never done before. There is a team of Writing Advisors available to help.

Meet one-on-one with a Writing Advisor and get help at any stage of the writing process. Best of all? Writing Advisors not only help you get your papers done, but they make sure you know how to write to the highest ethical standard.

The Writing Centre is one of your built-in communities.

Make an appointment on OSCARplus (under Student Success Centre > Appointments > Academic Skills) or contact us at writing@mcmaster.ca.

If you’ve been to one of our workshops or sessions, you may have learned the benefit of studying smarter, not harder. As you continue through university, you will gain academic skills and learn what works for you.

To get started, access some of the appointments, services and programs we offer through the Student Success Centre. We even offer a Study Smarter, Not Harder workshop at key times of the year.

Whether you take a workshop on time management or work one-on-one with a professional academic skills coach, you’ll learn tools to get your work done before it’s due, without compromising your academic integrity.

Your mental health and wellness is an important component to your academic, personal and professional success. Here are some resources you have access to as a McMaster student.

We also invite you to come by our space anytime, even if it’s just to say hi and feel part of a community.