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Combating online essay mills

Some professors are fed up with plagiarism and cutting out-of-class writing altogether


 

George Leef of the Pope Center for Higher Education Policy writes on combating the popularity of online term paper mills:

What can professors do to combat this new kind of cheating?

One thing is to try scaring the students into doing their own work with threats of serious penalties if they are caught submitting a paper that someone else has written for them. That won’t deter everyone.

Better still is for the professor to demand a draft from the student along with evidence that he has done some research. That too could be paid for, but if the professor also insists on a short conference to discuss the student’s progress, the student’s inability to talk about the work submitted would be telltale.

A still more radical solution is that of Professor Thomas Bertonneau, author of a Pope Center series on the problems of dealing with students who can’t or won’t read. Professor Bertonneau informs me that he no longer assigns written work to be done out of class. “I got sick of all the plagiarism, which is rampant, as is the student cynicism that drives it,” he says. His approach really cuts the Gordian Knot. Students can’t purchase or plagiarize an essay they have to write in class.


 
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Combating online essay mills

  1. Here’s an interesting article by someone who, some time ago, derived much of his income from churning out papers:

    http://www.thesmartset.com/article/article10100801.aspx

    He characterizes three types of clients he had:

    “DUMB CLIENTS predominate. They should not be in college. They must buy model papers simply because they do not understand what a term paper is, much less anything going on in their assignments….”

    “The second type of client is the one-timer. A chemistry major trapped in a poetry class thanks to the vagaries of schedule and distribution requirements, or worse, the poet trapped in a chemistry class. These clients were generally lost and really did simply need a decent summary of their class readings — I once boiled the 1000-page New Testament Theology by Donald Guthrie into a 30-page précis over the course of a weekend for a quick $600….”

    “The third group is perhaps the most tragic: They are well-educated professionals who simply lack English-language skills. Often they come from the former Soviet Union, and in their home countries were engineers, medical professionals, and scientists. In the United States, they drive cabs and have to pretend to care about “Gothicism” in “A Rose For Emily” for the sake of another degree….”

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