Sunday, February 16, 2014

The Professors of Plagiarism

Plagiarism is a huge concern for everyone involved in college writing: students, professors, admins. For students, the nature of the concern varies--some of us are concerned with unintentionally stealing someone else's work, while some of us are worried about being caught for actually stealing someone else's work. Teachers and administrators are usually more concerned with creating assignments that make plagiarism difficult and finding tools to catch offenders.

For me, plagiarism seems like too much work. Including a citation is much easier, in my opinion, than trying to paraphrase another person's work while simultaneously removing all signs of that original work from your own. And, as far as buying papers goes, I just wouldn't trust anyone else's work. If I got another person to write a paper for me, I'd have to check it over and edit it before I could be comfortable turning it in for a grade. More than that, I'd want to be sure it wasn't glaringly different from work I'd already submitted to a professor. On top of that, I'd be worried that my own work wouldn't live up to the paper I'd paid for. I'd be stuck buying papers for the rest of the semester.

Like I said, it sounds like more work than just, you know, doing your own work.

So, even if I weren't a broke graduate student with two kids to feed, I doubt that I'd shell out $200 for a paper from is a paper mill. But it's much more advanced than that one kid you knew in undergrad who sold his old papers to students at the community college. As evidenced by its title, this company claims to exclusively hire out-of-work academics to craft papers for current students. In a recent piece over at, Rebecca Schuman sums it up like this:
Unemployed Professors purports to hire exclusively casualties of today’s academic job market to write all the essays, so that students can spend their valuable time attending racist frat parties.
Schuman goes on to question the morality of in terms of the immorality of plagiarism (that's just wrong, y'all), but in terms of the arguments the company uses to justify its own existence. The company admits that writing essays for cash is unethical. In fact, they admit that it's "incredibly so." But "because the academic system is already so corrupt," they're "totally cool with that."

It's an interesting, albeit illogical, argument--academia is corrupt, so students need not be held accountable for their work. I can see it as a good jumping off point for an argument essay in a Basic Comp class. Though, the professor might want to include in-class revision and peer review as part of the assessment--just to be sure that an unemployed professor didn't write the final paper a student turns in.

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