Offers of lecture notes, summaries and study guides – useful tools or traps?
Have you come across websites that offer to share resources such as lecture notes, summaries and study guides with you? These websites often advertise directly to university students, appearing at the top of your Google searches and even through your social media channels.
Don’t be fooled!
You need to be very careful about these types of websites. You should not interact with suspicious websites and alert Deakin of any offers you may receive by third-party ‘assignment help’ services. You can report suspicious websites to Deakin by contacting Student Life at [email protected].
If you find yourself on a website which asks you to share an old assignment or Deakin materials in order to access their resources, think again – it’s a trap. Uploading your work to these third-party websites is a form of contract cheating, a serious breach of Deakin’s Student Code Of Conduct and Student Academic Integrity Policy which can result in you being excluded from the University permanently.
What is contract cheating?
‘Contract cheating’ is where you get someone to do all or part of your assignments or exams, and pass the work off as your own. This includes asking friends or family to do the work for you, or paying a company that promotes ‘study or assignment help’.
However, Deakin also considers sharing of your own assignments to third parties for personal gain (such as in exchange for access to study notes) to be a breach of academic integrity. The risk of having your work publicly available means other students could potentially copy your work from anywhere in the world!
It can get worse, too – by breaching academic integrity rules, you also put yourself at risk of blackmail. The people who obtain access to your past assignments (or supply you illegitimate assignments) can try to force you to pay them money by threatening to report you to the University.
Don’t fall for it. The ‘help’ these companies offer to students is illegal and using these services will endanger your degree.
A cautionary tale:
James* received an allegation of a breach of academic integrity, specifically collusion (which is defined as working with anyone else to produce any part of your individual assessment). James made an appointment with the DUSA Student Advocacy and Support Service to receive assistance in responding to the Faculty Academic Integrity Committee.
In discussion with the Advocate, James soon realised that the allegation was actually in relation contract cheating. The allegation named another student and alleged their assignment and his were very similar. James did not know the other student named in the collusion allegation and was very confused. However, he remembered accessing a website in the previous year for study notes to prepare for one of his exams, where he was asked to upload a completed assignment in order to gain access. The assignment James uploaded was then copied by another Deakin student a year later.
The Advocate assisted James to respond to the Committee with a written submission and attend a Zoom meeting. James received a proven allegation and was penalised with zero marks for the assignment he had uploaded, impacting on his final mark for the unit from the previous year.
Have you received an allegation of cheating? Contact DUSA for advice
Receiving an allegation of a breach of academic integrity can be a very stressful process to go through. That’s why your Student Association (DUSA) offers you the assistance via the Student Advocacy and Support Service (SASS).
- If you’ve received an allegation of an academic integrity breach, complete this online form to make a free confidential appointment with an experienced DUSA Advocate. Our Advocates are independent from Deakin and can assess your situation before discussing possible courses of action with you.
- If you would like to know more about what to expect from an academic integrity meeting, read the DUSA FAQs.
- You can also find out more about academic integrity breaches on the DUSA website.
How can I make sure I don’t break the rules?
- If you’re a commencing student this trimester, complete your mandatory Academic Integrity unit now. You will have been automatically enrolled in this compulsory unit, which will help you develop knowledge, skills and good practice principles during your study, so that you avoid allegations such as plagiarism, collusion and contract cheating. The unit will take about two hours to complete and you’ll find it in the My Units tab of DeakinSync.
- Make sure you are across all the various aspects of academic integrity and the University’s expectations of you. Visit Deakin’s Academic Integrity webpage which explains how to uphold these standards and gives you helpful advice and resources, and make sure you’re adhering to the expectations of Deakin’s Student Code of Conduct and Student Academic Integrity Policy.
- Remember genuine study support services are available at Deakin. While we understand that university study can be difficult at times, you shouldn’t feel like you need to cut corners or breach ethical standards to succeed. If you need help with your assignments or preparation for your assignments or exams, use the help that is provided by Deakin – this way, you know it’s legitimate. Check out the full range of study support available at Deakin and remember that the best source of help is your Unit Chair or teaching team. They’re here to answer your questions and point you in the right direction.
*Case study de-identified for privacy.