I really don't know why I continue to post about this - maybe just to continue to make a point - not that the point gets anywhere near its mark.
In the last week I have seen at least twelve job offers for course work to be written and some of those jobs have been completed. I have flagged just one and nothing was done about it (as far as I know).
This afternoon I have three of these 'job offers' in my job feed - using euphemistic terms such as editing and proofreading, but the 'clients' are looking for writers for their dissertations and their theses.
I am truly disgusted that Upwork continues to allow these people to use the site as the go-to platform for perpetuating academic fraud.
Interestingly, the job I repeatedly tried to flag a few days ago was clearly academic fraud. I finally had to PM the moderator who said that it appeared that flagging for some reason was not available Just For That Particular Job. Really? How does that even work?
It was for an apparent law student located in China who wanted someone to write a research paper for him.
I don't do academic writing but I occasionally search those listings looking for fraud, which continues to be rampant. Part of the problem appears to be that the Upwork people who respond to those flags are not properly trained to identify academic fraud.
Therre was even a "client" in the client forum, wailing that a freelancer he hired to write his paper was about to ruin his life by reporting him to the university.
He also thought it was a victimless offence as it would not hurt anyone of he cheated. He was quite adamant that he was the victim.
I have flagged so many clients who are students seeking freelancers to write their academic papers that I actually feel that UpWork should begin paying me (and other freelancers) for salvaging their reputation. It is absolutely absurd that freelancers are still expected to click on a menu item after flagging as suspected fraud and write out the reason as a violation of UpWork's Terms of Service. Yes, UpWork is definitely demonstrating that this company is part of the problem (rather than part of the solution) by still not including a menu item of academic fraud for flagging after all these years. Of course, there will be some type of response to my comment that absolves UpWork of this responsibility and shifts it to clients and freelancers. However, it is obvious that this online platform is aiding students across the planet in their capacity to submit written work created by someone specifically-hired to commit fraud.
And so in my job feed now is this job:
Someone looking for "an expert to write their paper (with no plagiarism - of course not) on the Crimea.
I've also been repeatedly flagging clear examples of academic fraud including clients wanting people to sit online examinations for them. They are particularly frequent at the moment. To their credit, Upwork have been taking some of these down.
When the fraudsters post actual assignment briefs and dissertation handbooks as part of the job description, I am now sending these to the Universities concerned - usually to tutors and cc'ing to academic deans or heads of department too.
In one case, the fraudster left their name on a draft document and I received the following response from the university to whom I sent the details:
"I wish to inform that I have escalated the your email to chair of our school’s ethics board. I have also cc’d the HoD of the Department, as well as the Director of the School and the Vice Dean of the College. [The university] takes a strong exception to these things. I can assure that the issue will be investigated further, and the full penalties shall apply if the student is found guilty."
I think what needs to happen is that Upwork make a very clear statement that, in the event of a universitiy instituting an academic misconduct inquiry, they (Upwork) will fully cooperate with it, disclosing client names and any other relevant contracts - such as previous requests for ghostwriters - that they might have had. There is a serious reputational issue here both for Upwork and for freelancers who use it for legitmate academic research, tutoring, editing and proofreading.
I even came across three cases of graphic design academic fraud last week, which I didn't even know was "a thing". It was very, VERY obviously course work and not real projects. I flagged them but of course they weren't taken down, and the student successfully hired designers to help them cheat. It's so reassuring to know that a new generation of freelancers will soon join Upwork using stolen portfolio work!
Yes, I flag these regularly, and thank you, Nichola, Christine, everyone who continues to flag. I believe that thing that makes us as a group of freelancers using this website look bad the most is the rampant academic fraud. You can get scammed anywhere online or in the real world. The FBI was involved in Operation Varsity Blues, and I don't want Upwork to be the next Operation Varsity Blues 2. And I don't want to be associated with a site that allows academic fraud, which Upwork clearly does because they do nothing to remove freelancers who continually take these jobs and they leave up the posts. Much more aggressive action needs to be taken to address this specific, rampant form of fraud.
*forgive poor grammar - I just met 3 massive deadlines in one day and have uncorked the appropriate bottle of wine.
I've been flagging job adverts and where there is identifying information, contacting the universities directly with documentation, screenshots, and student identifiers where they are provided.
The responses I've had have been positive, and are from senior university staff (Deans, Registrars and Head of Grad Schools). Result! Another university investigation launched, this time at an Australian University.
If Upwork do their bit, block adverts and boot out students and freelancers alike, the message may get out that the risks are too great.