Ghosts in the Machine: Technology, Ghost Writing and the Issues for Students and Educators
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Session presented on Sunday, July 24, 2016: Purpose: The uptake of ghost writing services by students in academic settings has been receiving increasing attention in the academic landscape. This form of academic cheating as compared to plagiarism is difficult to determine and to prove, however, anecdotal evidence from academic colleagues attests that this academic misconduct is increasing. Modern technology allows the purchasing of cheap, ghost writing services even to the point of "buying your degree" and, with pressure on students who are time poor as they work whilst studying, this phenomenon is likely to proliferate. Technologies are moving more quickly that rules and policies can keep pace with whilst the assessing, evidencing and evaluating of graduate capabilities must be undertaken with care with the ethics of sign-off on student work paramount. This paper focuses on this form of unethical conduct and places it in context with the issues of managing the problem and understanding the drivers of its creation, to determine the way forward and the implications for both students and educators in higher education. Methods: De-identified sample case notes are used to demonstrate scenarios where possible cheating behaviours have occurred with explantion of verification and investigative procedures explained and the implications discussed. Results: Significant outcomes are presented on the impact of the academic dishonesty with ramifications for students and educators explored, highlighting the need for recognition and intervention on behalf of eductors. Detection, follow-up and follow-through with transparent adherence to policy is required. Re-examining the role of the student, good student citizenship and academic integrity are discussed as well as the policy iimpications that may be required to address the enforcement of educational standards. Conclusion: Ghostwriting and plagiarsim have implications for insitutional policy and educational practice. They also have immense effect on students and edcators alike. This pervasive phenomena of academic dishonesty associated with new technologies requires consideration and action to structure good scholarly practice for teaching and learning in and for the future.