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Should I report a graduate student who "hires" other people to do their coursework? Is this a proper course of action to take? I understand the repercussions will be outstanding for the individual.


Thank you for the input. I've talked to some old professors as well as people in the industry and they all agreed that I should bring it to the attention of the dean and other professors because it is unfair to the people who have worked hard to get into the program, the people he has been scamming, and also people who were denied entry into the program because he was deemed the better candidate. As far as evidence goes, I have substantial evidence both from him and an upset developer who contacted me through his friends list on Facebook.

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    Is "this" a proper course of action, Where "this" is hiring someone to do their coursework? Or where "this" is reporting them? – GEdgar Oct 31 '15 at 17:07
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    Can you describe in a clearer way what exactly you are observing? Is the student paying someone to attend courses for them, or to solve homework? – O. R. Mapper Oct 31 '15 at 17:13
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    I understand the repercussions will be outstanding for the individual. Good! This will teach them a valuable lesson that hopefully will help them learn from their mistakes and later achieve honest success in life. Note that the "repercussions" will be a direct result of the individual's actions which they chose to engage in, not a result of your reporting those actions. – Dan Romik Oct 31 '15 at 18:19
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    @LordAzu: That is massively different from what I read into the question (I took it as significant hw help in exchange for a dinner or beer ("hire" in apostrophes only)). If I understand you correctly, the quotes just mean that someone is contracted for much more universal and serious fraud (exams, etc.), then short-changed out of promised payment (the second part being not even necessary to make this unacceptable, but painting the person you talk about as even worse). I would definitely go ahead and report them; just make sure to support conclusive evidence. – gnometorule Oct 31 '15 at 22:21
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    Not only is this an unethical student, but a he or she doesn't even have honor among thieves. Sounds like chaotic evil to me. Please report this sociopath. – zahbaz Nov 1 '15 at 22:29
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Yes. You're describing academic dishonesty, and it doesn't matter if it's essay-buying, texting answers during an exam, involves undergraduates vs. graduates... academic dishonesty should be reported.

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    The OP hasn't really described a whole lot. And while their mention of "coursework" makes it likely something that is not supposed to be done is happening here, it is not at all clear or undisputed whether hiring people to outsource certain tasks is invariably problematic. – O. R. Mapper Oct 31 '15 at 18:57
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    Most likely you are expected to report it. My university's policy on academic honesty makes reporting everyone's responsibility. – Fuhrmanator Nov 1 '15 at 13:12
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Let us not forget the the formal grades a student is assigned are often used to evaluate candidates for scholarships, internships and right-out-of-school jobs. This is less important when we're talking about grad school than it would have been for undergraduate work, but it doesn't go away.

In other words, this stuff has very real consequences in the real word and can profoundly affect career arcs. Indeed, if grades didn't matter why would anyone ever bother cheating in the first place.

So here is the point: a student who receives moderately good grades doing their own work might be passed over for something important in favor of a student who gets slightly better grades by hiring out the work, and every time that happens the cheater has stolen something from the person skipped over.

Cheating is a moral issue on the same level as theft at the capital scale. It is up to you to decide if you want to abet that or not.

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That kind of behaviour you are describing in your comments is against the principles of academia. It is unethical and malpractice. Hence, he is not helping himself at all by avoiding to do what he has to do. So yes.

  • Perhaps you can expand your answer a bit? – jakebeal Oct 31 '15 at 20:34
  • @jakebeal Is it okay now? – NickyR Oct 31 '15 at 23:22
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I personally think there is more than just one aspect here. Plus I believe we're not getting the fully story.

Yes, what this guy is allegedly doing is wrong. He cheats at university, and he seems to cheat the people he hires (OP clarified this in a comment to his post). And still we're speaking about two very different things.

In the latter case, there is a contract between him and the hired person (the "dev", as you said). Even if there is no written contract, there will be other evidence supporting the contract. So he could sue him. But here is one thing I find a bit strange: if I was ordering such work with the purpose to cheat, I would be much too scared to not pay the bill since the dev could rat on me. If this thing would even go to court, my career would be over. Why risk it?

Anyway, for the sake of argument, let's assume that the dev is not going to take any action for whatever reason. The next question then is: how did you find out that the guy is cheating? From the way you describe it it sounds as if he confided in you. I mean, it's a bad thing to cheat alright, but how is misusing a friend's trust any better? I wouldn't want to have business with any of you.

I would agree with what the user O.R. Mapper wrote in a comment to your question:

"I don't see myself as the enforcer of other's morality, and find it good policy to focus on my own life and shortcomings" - as often in such questions, it's not (exclusively) about enforcing anything towards others, but about making sure that your degrees and certificates are not devalued by granting the same degrees and certificates to fraudsters.

Frauds will be exposed for what they are, sooner or later, be sure about it. I know of people having had their degree revoked even 10 years after they graduated because fraud was discovered. And frankly, with this guy cheating even on the people he hires, it will be sooner rather than later for him.

If this guy is your friend, make sure he understands that you disagree with his actions and, as a last resort, break up the friendship if he won't stop it. I just don't see it in your responsibility to tell on him.

  • I would be much too scared to not pay the bill Maybe I am missing something. Would you point out where the OP said the guy did not pay the bill? – scaaahu Nov 1 '15 at 11:53
  • @scaaahu In a comment to his own question, OP wrote: "What I've discovered is that this individual "hires" other people to do his papers, take home exams, and projects. I leave the hires in quotes because he admitted that he does not actually pay them in the end and cuts off all contact with them after the deed is done." – vic Nov 1 '15 at 11:56
  • I don't know how to point to comments by link. It's the 7th comment from the top. You have to expand all comments to see it. – vic Nov 1 '15 at 12:01
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    The student is not my friend and did not confide this to me out of the goodness of his heart. He admitted to it(in text and email) after the dev contacted me and showed me emails,text messages, and chat conversations as well as the work he did. I am not trying to put my personal feelings into it but some of the messages he sent to dev paint him in a completely different light. For example a little excerpt near the end of the logs read " I am not going to pay you but you are a nice guy. Consider it a good deed for the year." – Lord Azu Nov 1 '15 at 20:16
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    Why would the dev contact specifically you about it? Maybe you could give us an idea about the nature of relationships between yourself, the dev, and the alleged culprit? Might be easier to give you proper advice. – vic Nov 1 '15 at 20:20

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