Essay writing services that help students cheat: would you be proud of a degree earned this way?

These cheating essay writing services people are so, so sneaky … I thought I could smell them when they email me offering “guest posts,” but I fell for this one who did actually write more or less what I suggested he do.

Cheating at college by buying written essaysThree things rang an alarm bell once the article arrived: one, a sub-heading wasn’t quite correct English; two, his bio at the end was incomplete, terminating in mid-sentence; and three, there was an embedded link. When I clicked the link, Microsoft warned me that it was suspicious. But I was nosy, and getting angry by this point. I avoided clicking on the link, but typed it into Chrome.

Guess what? I found myself on the most blatant cheating “essay writing services” site I’ve ever seen

And as – according to a Google search – 27.9 million results at the time of writing – that’s going some. Here is what their home page says:

When it comes to college essays, students are not only struggling and feeling the pressure to submit quality outputs. They are also struggling and feeling the pressure to submit their output fast and on time. This is one reason why students are desperately seeking for a practical solution for a fast and timely output submission. Sadly, writing fast and submitting essays on time is hard for students. One, writing essays is a very demanding process as you are required to follow specific formats and guidelines, etc. This fact alone can make writing time-consuming. Two, not all students have the skills in writing, which makes submitting their output on time all the more impossible. However, it is no longer difficult to find a solution to this problem. The existence of an essay writer service or professionals who accept payment to write essay allows students to simply order their essays online instead of writing them on their own.”

Some cheating services camouflage the truth by talking about “help to write” essays, dissertations, etc. Not these kiddies, though…

“When you write the essay on your own, expect to go through a lot of stress, especially if you lack the writing skills and knowledge about academic essay writing. But, when you order the essay online, there is no need for you to be stressed because someone is actually writing the essay for you.”

Prices range from $9.97 for undergraduate, 14 days delivery time to… $197 for “admission help,” 3 hours delivery time.

I won’t share the URL of the site as Microsoft identified it as suspect (even though it’s an “https” … how sweet!) but if anyone wants to know it, email me.

In the UK, it’s said that at least 20,000 students are buying essays from these fraudsters

In a recent article in the UK’s Daily Telegraph, it’s plain that whereas straight plagiarism can be checked and detected, this type of cheating is a much tougher call:

“Whilst universities already operate strict anti-plagiarism systems in place to detect the copying of academic texts, the process of contract cheating – students purchasing professionally-written essays to submit as their own original work – means that examiners and markers are powerless to prevent systemic foul play…” the article points out.

And it seems that the original figure of 20,000 cheating students may be a huge understatement…

“Lord Storey, who has tabled an amendment  in the Higher Education and Research Bill to make the practice illegal, told The Telegraph that “rich students” are effectively “paying their way” to a top honours degree. “I think we’re looking at the tip of the iceberg – the true figure is probably closer to 50,000 students,” he said.”

In another recent media article – this time in the UK’s Guardian newspaper, it seems that one country at least – New Zealand – has taken steps to outlaw the essay cheats…

“In Britain it is left to individual institutions to develop their own plagiarism policies. But in its research, the QAA recommended new laws to make it illegal to help students “commit acts of academic dishonesty for financial gain”, punishable with fines of up to £5,000. It suggested the UK look to New Zealand, where essay mills have been fined and their assets have been frozen.”

The UK is trying to do something about it, but will it be enough?

Right now, these scammers are running riot. Not only do they try to worm their way into “guest posts” on websites like HTWB – they advertise openly all over the internet (see above,) fly post advertising near universities, hand out leaflets to students on campus, and numerous other blatant flaunting of their wares. In an article on the BBC News website earlier this month (October 2017) Judith Burns wrote…

“An investigation last year by the Quality Assurance Agency found hundreds of companies were producing work for students to pass off as their own.
The companies charge from as little as £15 to almost £7,000 for a PhD dissertation, the QAA found.
Universities minister Jo Johnson says new guidelines will help prevent “unacceptable and pernicious” cheating.
He asked the QAA to produce the guidelines, which urge universities to

  • ban essay mills from advertising on campus and block their websites
  • use software to spot changes in students’ personal writing styles
  • make clear that cheats could miss out on their qualifications
  • help struggling students with their writing and study skills
  • include students on academic policy and misconduct panels
  • improve support for whistleblowers”

Let’s hope that helps.

Is the style and format of academic writing partly to blame here?

I know I have a loathing for academic writing style because it is so dry, boring, and bland … a loathing finely honed during the nearly 4 years my son was at university and showed me how strangled his writing style had to be in every assignment he wrote.

But think about it for a moment. With academic writing having to be formula-styled and strictly factual with no personality showing from the writer – well, that just plays into these scammers’ hands, doesn’t it? After all, one piece of academic writing in a dry style with no personality is much the same as the next.

However if students were allowed to take off the restraining curb chain and write in something more like a personal, plain English style with some element of uniqueness, would that make it harder for the essay writing cheats to remain undetected?

What do you think? Please share your thoughts!