INVESTIGATION: Inside the term Paper-based plagiarism for the for-profit industry

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Wednesday 03 December 2014

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A man from Eugene makes a living writing essays, homework and essays for students around the world. He’s just a small cog in the trial mill industry, a term used for the dozens of websites where students can go to ask someone else to do their homework. While the sites are operating in the open, professors at colleges and universities say there is little they can do to stop it.

Logan Cook is a freelance writer who makes a living from writing midterm papers and essays for students around the world.

“The longest job I had was 124 pages in 32 straight hours,” he said. “Welcome to my life.”

The Internet is full of sites like EWorld editions and Skilled writers, which offer students in-stock or custom essays for a fee, some costing $ 30 per double-spaced, 12-point Times New Roman page.

With typically only a two or three day turnaround, Cook, an alias he used for this article, became an expert on everything from nursing practices to historical theories of government.

“For most homework, if I can do a page in less than fifteen minutes, preferably ten, that’s pretty good,” Cook said. At this speed, he can sometimes make $ 50 an hour.

Creeping plagiarism

As a 2009 study in Ethics and behavior revealed, a shocking 82 percent of students admit academic dishonesty. Many college presidents are alarmed by the growing trend of plagiarism, according to a PEW Research Center survey.

Tom Bivins, media and ethics expert and professor at the University of Oregon, said plagiarists are hard to catch. Bivins said when he is grading homework essays can sometimes seem too good, but there is little way to prove that something is not a student’s work if it came from a source. original.

“I literally can’t do anything about it,” Bivins said. “It’s unethical, but there is nothing you can do.”

One of Cook’s missions of a test mill

Box: The ethics of beach swimming

Testing factories act as an intermediary between writers and clients. Clients across the country post their requests on sites such as Proficient Writers, listing assignment details and timeframe. Cook and other writers then browse through the posts through the backend of the website and apply for projects.

The mill chooses a writer or the student can request one. Once chosen, the writer is held responsible for completing the task on time.

Contact with the student depends on the essay mill. Some don’t allow any writer-client contact, but some allow the two to communicate, Cook said.

Writers are paid for the amount of work over a two-week period, either by check or PayPal. However, testing factories keep a large chunk of the profit, with Cook typically receiving $ 10 per page.

Industry of deception

Of course, the companies claim that the materials provided are not intended for students to give to teachers, but to use as helpful resources or models of good homework. According to the test mill Terms of use, “ does not endorse or condone any form of total or partial plagiarism or any activity that will facilitate cheating.”

Kenny Sahr is the homework owner site, which offers free sample essays and assignments on a variety of topics. Sahr said he expected the 5,000 to 20,000 site visits per day to be not for nefarious purposes.

“I hope the students don’t return the papers. It’s not a smart thing to do, ”Sahr said. “I hope it helps them get their feet wet when reading the work of their peers and understanding complicated topics.”

Yet once students pay for writing services, essay companies have no control over what happens next. And while students can fail classes or even be kicked out of their institution for returning papers, holding vendors to account is another story. Bivins explained that no legal action can be taken against these companies and their authors, unless they plagiarize the copyrighted work of another author.

Photo credit: iStock

The man behind the trials

Five years ago, Cook was away from the world of writing, pulling an espresso at a cafe in Davis, California. Fresh out of UC Davis, his graduate plans fell through and he found that a bachelor’s degree in anthropology wasn’t much help in the job market.

An ad on Career Builder caught his eye – writing for money, picking your own hours, only requires a four-year degree and a writing sample. He got a quick response from the company and after a short phone interview, Cook began his career as an essay writer.

Lately, Cook has moved away from big websites to focus on his solo career. Money can be earned through private businesses on, where Cook does not have split payment to test factories. He can also communicate directly with the students, by e-mail or SMS.

So far, Cook has said his private practice has been successful. In his announcements, he makes sure to present himself as professional and experienced in a simple way. It also heightens the pressures clients face by promising better grades worry-free, stress-free and by a skilled writer. “After almost five years of doing this, I think I know a thing or two,” Cook said.

Cook charges between $ 16 and $ 20 a page in his private business. It sends the paper by email to the customer who then makes the payment to a PayPal account. If he is not paid, Cook said he would track down the client and inform him that he will report it to the school if he does not pay.

Reasons and ethics

Cook said some students turn to plagiarism because of circumstances that inevitably creep into life – a death in the family, must-see shifts or crucial classes that cannot be abandoned.

“Then you just have people who are straight and lazy and probably on mommy and daddy’s dime,” Cook said. “But I’m still going to take their money – a job is a job.”

Others are overwhelmed, in classes they cannot process or understand. So they come to Cook looking for a solution.

“I’m sitting there and seeing customers who are hopelessly overwhelmed, having a clue of nothing,” Cook said. He blamed the education system.

Eventually, Cook would like to step away from the writing business for other writing opportunities. He recently started a blog to coach others on the art of essay writing. But for now, Cook continues to write essays and dissertations for his paying clients, even though he has doubts about his profession.

“To be fair, I know I am feeding the problem.” Cook said. “There’s a part of me that says ‘Damn, this sucks.’ I don’t like it when I undermine the education system. There’s another part that’s like ‘it’s not a bad life.’ The pragmatic and opportunist side won the war of conscience many years ago and have since gained the upper hand. ”

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