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December 30th, 2009
06:00 AM ET

Educating America: Cheating on papers is a booming Web business

By Bob Ruff and Carol Costello

Online sites known as paper mills offer students term papers, reports, or essays - for a fee.
Online sites known as paper mills offer students term papers, reports, or essays – for a fee.

Outsourcing is a dirty little word among many Americans. When companies use cheap labor overseas to make products or perform services it often means those jobs are lost in the United States.

Next up on the outsourcing list? Take a deep breath and read on. America is outsourcing its brains.

According to the Center for Academic Integrity, in the last school year nearly a third of the faculty at its 360 college and high school member institutions reported students downloading term papers, reports or essays written by someone else from online sites known as paper mills.

We counted more than 250 sites selling papers online, so CNN'S Carol Costello went online to buy a term paper from one of them. She asked for a "Premium Quality" paper on Jayson Blair, the former reporter fired by the New York Times for making up stories. Three, double-spaced pages with 5 references (the references added to the cost), totaled $80.97.

The company said it would take a few days.

Watch: Students outsource homework Video

Costello talked to one writer from an Asian country, who wished to remain anonymous. He says, based on his experience, more than 90% of online term paper buying comes from the United States. "There's a huge demand for academic papers in the United States," he told her. "It's unethical, but you know I come from a Third World country. It's good pay. The temptation was really great."

Much of the time it's an English speaking writer from another country who is writing those term papers. DomainTools tracks Internet traffic to Web sites by nation. Essaywriters.net is one of the most established sites soliciting writers to write these papers. DomainTools says most of the visitors to essaywriters.net are non-Americans.

It breaks down this way:

  • Pakistan 28.8%
  • India 27.3%
  • USA 20.9%
  • Philippines 6.5%
  • Ukraine 4.2%
  • Indonesia 1.8%

While it may seem lucrative for a writer looking for some work, several writers we talked to said essaywriters.net did not pay them for the work they produced. One blog has become a place for writers to read about and exchange information on companies that sell research papers.

Terese Depoy, an Arizona substitute teacher and writer, says she contacted essaywriters.net to make extra cash by doing freelance writing under her pen name, M.J. Joachim. "The big pitch," says Depoy, "was that they...had really strong professional people that needed your services."

But when Depoy received the writing offers, she says she was appalled that it had nothing to do with corporate writing or research. "They're requesting term papers, they're requesting book reports...there were some that had entire course syllabuses for the semester...I was actually embarrassed!" Depoy, who has a daughter in college, chose not to participate. "What it tells me is, we're really dumbing down America. We're lowering the standard of education."

In a statement to CNN, essaywriters.net said "the original writing services that essaywriters.net and affiliates provide are for reference only and are not to be used without properly citing all assistance material. All customers are informed that it is their responsibility to use the reference material responsibly and never claim it as their own work. We hold our customers and writers the highest ethical and academic standards."

There is software designed to catch counterfeit papers. Turnitin is used widely by schools to catch cheating students. Professors who we spoke with said that while Turnitin is pretty good at catching stock term papers sold online, it's not so good at flagging custom papers that paper mills sell to students.

The University of California, San Diego (UCSD) says it caught 600 students cheating in the past year. Most of the students were either copying tests, using crib notes, helping others on tests, or turning in term papers off the Internet. The university is so concerned with the problem that it created a Academic Integrity Office to deal with it.

Tricia Bertram Gallant, the academic integrity coordinator at UCSD, runs a mandatory seminar for the student cheaters. "It's more important to address it when it happens and educate students about why paper mills aren't a good idea for them to use," she says. "It's not just about not getting caught, but it's about not learning how to write."

The paper Costello ordered about Jayson Blair, the former New York Times reporter, came three days later. We decided to run it by American University Journalism Professor John Watson.

Here's the very first sentence in the term paper that we bought:

"The media acting as the eyes of the society ought to practice its role with the highest journalistic ethics possible; feeding the society with information of unquestionable source to perpetuate the credibility and the moral obligation bestowed to it."

Professor Watson's assessment: "The first sentence does not express a coherent thought. Indeed, the entire essay does not show college-level organization or coherency."

The professor's grade for the paper? F (fail)

It may be easier but is it really better to be outsourcing our brains to unknown writers on the Internet?

Originally posted September 4, 2009.


Filed under: Educating America • Education
soundoff (73 Responses)
  1. Ray

    When I went back to complete my bachelors degree (2008); I looked a couple of times at what was available to 'copy'. Of what I reviewed, the quality of these papers left much to be desired. The writing styles were bland. Most of the subject information was available. However, when a person takes pride in their ability to write a cohesive paper, it is degrading to your own achievements to allow a lesser paper to substitute for your effort. I chose to stay up until 2am or 3am or later (when necessary) to write all my own papers. All while working full-time as a single parent. My degree is my achievement.
    Cheating does not teach you how much you can accomplish, just what you can get away with. We Americans need to learn how much we can accomplish. This recession is proof that we are losing our ability to get away with less.

    January 4, 2010 at 11:29 am |
  2. Keri

    Actually it looks like you can use perpetuate in that context, meaning to uphold, the hypernym of perpetuate. Granted, the writer should have simplified it and used "uphold." It's not great writing. It is too verbose and good writing is concise, but it's not incoherent.

    January 4, 2010 at 10:58 am |
  3. Keri

    I guess semantically it might bother someone to use a verb like perpetuate with "credibility and moral obligation", but I don't honestly know any professor who would fail a paper over that. I'd have to see the rest of it but without that it looks biased.

    January 4, 2010 at 10:51 am |
  4. Keri

    The first sentence, though a little on the verbose side, could be simplified, but it is absolutely a coherent thought, and is a good opening sentence, actually. I don't see how it is not a coherent thought, and it seems a little disingeniune to suggest that it is lacking just because you want to dissuade people from buying their essays online.

    January 4, 2010 at 10:44 am |
  5. Mike Ahmadi

    Who cares if students are buying papers? All you do is have several "in class" writing assigments or tests in essay form early on in the semester. The teacher will get an idea of each student's writing ability.......after that, the teacher should be able to tell if his/her student actually wrote the term paper at hand.

    This is how I conducted my discussion sections when I was a graduate student. I knew who wrote his/her paper and who did not....... and, as a result, immediately caught several students who downloaded their assignments.

    Cnn should stick to reporting news.......this is not news. If people want to cheat themselves out of the learning process then let them do so. At some point, these particular individuals will pay the price for being inept and incompetent.

    January 4, 2010 at 4:28 am |
  6. Kenny

    Anyone caught cheating should be thrown out of college and their transcript permanently marked. Its not fair to give these people a second chance. Colleges are full and they turn people away. So if you get caught you should go home.

    January 4, 2010 at 2:04 am |
  7. JOHN

    It is our educational system that propitiates the buying and selling of term papers and other forms of cheating. If the system were working, such activities would not be needed. Learning should be fun, and every teacher or professor should strive for excellence in teaching. The students who get by after turning in fake papers are taking unfair advantage of the system. Those selling the papers are taking advantage of the weaknesses (both academic and ethical) of the students and the system.

    January 4, 2010 at 12:01 am |
  8. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, B.A., J.D.

    I am confident that many, or most of the morons on Wall Street who destroyed the credit of the United States bought term papers. The answer is simple. National publishing of all 2 and 4 year college papers. Mandatory failing grades "mandated by congress" for those selling a paper, or buying a paper. Those paper mills sell the same paper to more than one student, and then two students have some explaining to do. IF the US supports the student or the school with even one penny, then US law has jurisdiction. Google spiders could catch palgarists in a second. All a professor has to do is scan a paper into the database, and see if there is a hit. The US Government either loans directly, or guarantees the loans of most all students in college. The FBI ought to use the same efforts to bust Paper-mills as they do to bust child porn sites. If this system and the internet had existed 40 years ago, a certain C student from Yale, might never have graduated, and we all would be spared a huge recession and a poorly planned double war. Do you want to go to get treated by a a medical doctor who bought a bio-chemistry paper? Or buy a car designed by an engineer who bought an engineering paper?

    January 3, 2010 at 11:14 pm |
  9. Lacey J

    I think the article appropriately addressed the transition of the "American Glory" to overseas countries. America's pride comes from being free-thinking, educated, world leaders, and as revenue generators from innovative new industries. Not only are we sending our jobs over to India, Budapest, China, etc. but now we are sending our intelligence. The internet is a medium by which young americans can now access produced knowledge (e.g. a paper). The biggest factor in obtaining successful intelligence is learning how to learn, learning how to listen, learning how to write, and learning how to effectively speak. If 600 college students at UCLA obtained this information unethically, what does that say for us? I can guarantee the problem is bigger with schools like the University of Phoenix, where nothing is monitored (I speak from personal knowledge). Are these people supposed to be our CEO's and managers someday? Kind of scary don't you think? I am in the staffing industry and outsourcing is a tyrant on the American people. If you're not effected by it, you probably care very little but if Americans aren't employed, there won't be any consumers to bring the economy back. The article was appropriate and much more important than some seem to think.

    January 3, 2010 at 4:48 pm |
  10. William

    I am astounded at the number of grammar and spelling errors in these comments from people who apparently think they are intelligent enough to post an opinion. The concept embodied in the acronym KISS is always close to the truth: KEEP IT SIMPLE STUPID.

    Cheating = expulsion = end of story.

    January 3, 2010 at 3:09 pm |
  11. Cheater Catcher

    Experienced university instructors can often recognize that somebody has appropriated the intellectual property of another because the writing style is markedly different. That is especially so with content written by somebody from a society where English is not the first language. At that point turnitin.com can help determine how much of the content is non-original. Confronting the student who submitted the third-party paper as his/her own work is typically subject to several rules about approaching the student sideways in a non-accusatory manner, thus allowing the student to claim he/she made an honest mistake. It's at that point I start to see red.

    January 3, 2010 at 11:58 am |
  12. Vicky Bevis

    From the errors in grammar, sentences, syntax, spelling, capitalization, etc., it never ceases to amaze me how these types of articles chide cheating in all its' forms. At least apparently the writers here didn't cheat, and it shows!

    My husband just retired 2 yrs. ago from being president of a private, for profit secondary school, and the stories he used to tell support that we are definately "Dumbed Down" big time & have been for yrs. Besides academic skills, critical thinking is totally lacking. Example: "There's a bus strike, so I can't get in to school today." So figure out another way & quit sitting on your butt complaining! Your employer won't accept that excuse, so why should we?

    Students want to major in "Underwater Basket Weaving" instead of taking difficult courses in math & science. I know 1st. hand how difficult anything in science is being a retired nurse. And judgement comes into play every day in the medical field besides knowledge. Questions on State Medical Boards of Licensing aren't simple "yes/no" questions or multiple choice; they ask "what is the BEST or FIRST thing to do in a situation?" TOUGH! But at least I have the pride of knowing that I went to one of the toughest schools and PASSED. It gave me confidence every day to tackle difficult & ever-changing situations.

    Most children come to school with enthusium. We do a magnificent job of destroying that. Quit being politically correct & JUST TEACH!

    .

    January 3, 2010 at 11:22 am |
  13. Russ

    Ahh, where has Carol Costello been, tem-paper mills and the "dumbing down" of the standard in American education has been an oft discussed topic for years.

    January 3, 2010 at 11:21 am |
  14. About The Parents and The Leaders

    **Lastly, I would like to inform the doubtful readers that I had written this in third grade language for easier comprehension (including mispellings and syntax). i.e. Many years ago, legal insurance documents had to be rewritten in the 'seventh grade' comprehensive language to be comprehended by the average reader. Something to think about.

    January 3, 2010 at 11:15 am |
  15. About The Parents and The Leaders

    The meaning of this comment is to provide INSIGHT into the growing amount of cheaters.

    Parents/Guardians SAME responsibility...'Ask the teacher,' Ask your mother,' Ask your father,' 'I don't have time right now-can't you see I am busy,' 'I have to get up early (after the parent watches four-six hours of t.v. or Internet...alone),'
    Leaders- 'I already told you twice,' 'You are not too smart are you?,' 'I see that you come from money your parents don't have time,' 'I see that your family has problems, they don't care,' 'You need to try harder-go sit down and do it, again, I have papers to grade,' 'You should not have applied to this college,' 'Where do you live...oh, I see,' 'You need to get a tutor,' **

    The guidance of children is more important in sports than in education. An example, I attend a private college. Students who are on sports scholarship have priority in registration and tuition (which is none), they, also, have special study hall hours, and tutors are available...only for athletes...but, if I inquire...I cannot attend because I not am not on this scholarship but a PAYING STUDENT. The desperation increases, loans WITH INTEREST is unlawful, and competing for FEW jobs are discouraging. The ratio in each class to meet PROFIT AND BUDGETARY NEEDS is a pushing effect among students-the lack of communication and guidance from Parents and Leaders is shameful. There is a lack of DESIRE to GUIDE. So, it seems that having an athletic department to be noticed rather than scholastic achievement seems the easier way out, so to speak. **

    Parents and Leaders-to respond to this comment in an insensitive way or even an argumentative manner reflects my very point. Where is the guidance and the attitude TO BE CORRECTED WHEN THERE IS A WRONG? **

    I have traveled to 48 U.S. states observing education. The attitudes and willingness to learn, be corrected and change has reflected in the communities it thrives based on education rather then pride. For example, the language of the South-the teachers given up correcting the Southern accent because of the pride and the whining complaints of the students. Rather than the parents correcting and working with the children, the parents lose their authority over the children and accept the misguided compliant of the child and complain to the teacher that the work is too much. Unbelievable. It never ends. Look closer in your schools-private or public-and see the path and the uneven vision that the students are heading. To the courageous Parents and Strong Leaders continue to progress and be corrected... keep up the fine work! **

    Again, Parents and Leaders-to respond to this comment in an insensitive way or even an argumentative manner reflects my very point. Where is the guidance and the attitude TO BE CORRECTED WHEN THERE IS A WRONG? **

    Lastly, I would like to inform the doubtful readers that I had written this in third grade language for easier comprehension (including mispellings and syntax). i.e. Many years ago, legal insurance documents had to be rewritten in the 'seventh grade' comprehensive language to be comprehended by the average reader. Something to think about. **

    The meaning of this comment is to provide INSIGHT into the growing amount of cheaters.

    January 3, 2010 at 11:14 am |
  16. good lord

    Every single rant on here confirms the gist of the story. Americans across the board are failing in grammar, punctuation, argument, and logic. No wonder nothing gets done.

    January 3, 2010 at 1:42 am |
  17. Barbara Will

    Whatever the problem with American education may turn out to be, this series of comments reveals at least one major concern: Americans cannot spell or use grammar correctly.

    January 2, 2010 at 5:06 pm |
  18. MarkJ

    Not all online tools are bad. Some tools that actually help students learn from their writing mistakes. Gramlee (www.gramlee.com) is an online grammar check and copy editing tool where real editors correct papers. This enforces the notion that content should always be original (created by students), but help with making their papers grammatically accurate and more powerful is available.

    January 2, 2010 at 3:10 pm |
  19. calvin

    I am a professor at a U.S. university. I try my best to give writing assignments that are course-specific and not amenable to stock productions. One example – "no papers on the death penalty" I always say in my undergraduate criminology and law classes.

    January 2, 2010 at 2:21 pm |
  20. Anonymous Spartacus

    "It's a fact that public education has been dumbing us down since the U.S. government first marched kids into school at gunpoint...We home schooled our boys. They are bright, funny, curious, articulate. They can do long division, they can spell, they can think."

    And your evidence for this "fact" is what, exactly? And if we're presenting duelling accounts of anecdotal evidence here, guess what: I attended public K-12 schools, and I can do long division, spell, and think, and I'm pretty articulate. And unlike you, I'm able to distinguish between a conclusory argument and a well-reasoned one.

    January 2, 2010 at 1:55 pm |
  21. Anonymous Spartacus

    "Costello talked to one writer from an Asian country [who said that] more than 90% of online term paper buying comes from the United States."

    I respectfully submit that this doesn't mean that US students cheat more than their foreign counterparts, but rather that the US educational system places much more value on "soft" skills, such as the ability to speak, write, and reason well, than do the vast majority of countries with more "algorithmic" educational systems.

    The latter group of countries generally assigns far fewer term papers to undergraduates and is instead more likely to rely on other assignments, such as end-of-term exams. This policy will depress demand for plagarized papers.

    Some quasi-anecdotal evidence in support of this proposition: I attended an MBA program at one of Europe's leading business schools, where no more than 10% of the class can be from any single country. The vast majority of non-US participants had never been asked to show their work or reasoning in undergraduate math classes - only the final answer. By contrast, the US students had always been told to show their work in math classes.

    Similarly, in qualitative courses such as organizational behavior, the US students often had far superior writing skills to non-US students. Some of this, no doubt, was due to language difficulties, but some was not. Many foreign education systems simply don't put much emphasis on creativity, persuasive writing skills, soliciting student ideas, and so forth - and they don't assign as many term papers.

    (Yes, I also think this basic difference in philosophy is a big reason why you often find US students lagging somewhat behind non-US students on standardized tests, but the US continually outperforms on softer metrics like establishing companies. *Commercializing* all that technology forces you to draw on softer skills; the world's biggest math whiz still needs to speak persuasively when pitching to a venture capitalist.)

    To cite another example, in US law schools, most grading, especially in the first year, is done entirely on the basis of end-of-term examinations. There's very little in the way of writing requirements. I don't doubt that CNN's Asian "expert" would find fewer orders for plagarized papers from law students than from undergraduates or students in disciplines where more papers are required. But it would be hasty to conclude, merely on that evidence, that law students are more ethical than their counterparts elsewhere.

    January 2, 2010 at 1:52 pm |
  22. College Student

    Why do colleges make students write papers that the professors don't read? 5 to 10 page papers are graded by TAs who reads it once and put down a grade. After three or four papers like this, I stop trying and start "throwing up" details that the TAs are looking for on the papers.

    Why should a student write an essay or paper on a topic that they do not care about? I love reading science fiction but, writing a paper about the symbolism in War and Peace is something I rather not do. Come to think about it, why do students need to know how to analyze literature academically? I do not think most people will ever do it again after college.

    Until writing becomes meaningful and important to the student, this cheating is going to keep happening and students' real writing will become worse. Besides if the professor never really reads it and I will not be writing like this again, does it matter if I write it in the first place?

    January 2, 2010 at 1:36 pm |
  23. Steve Gorak

    This is getting out of hand. I have a friend who outsourced his essays for entrance into business school to one of these online essay companies. And to top it off, one of the essays was on "Ethics!!!!" Additionally, I think abortion is bad.

    January 2, 2010 at 1:34 pm |
  24. Manny HM

    OK. This person who bought his or her term paper now became famous' She run for a high political office and now is the target of a blackmail – Give $250.000 now or else the world will know how you graduated summa cum laude...
    Solution ? At random and some selected instances have the student defend her term paper in front of the class. Ask her questions. Watch for the choice of words in the term paper and what she would utter. If her choice of words is like that of a professor from Oxford and how she speaks is Ghetto or Hillbilly then she has a problem !

    January 2, 2010 at 11:43 am |
  25. Paul Gavras

    It may be old news, but it's still relevant. The problem is probably just getting worse every day. This is why we have so many morons out there. They are too lazy to actually study and learn how to write an intelligent essay with some independent thought. It's just easier to pay someone else for their brains. I hope these people aren't the ones out there complaining that they can't land a job. But I guess we all know the answer to that one.

    Incidentally, that comment posted by Stanley: does anybody have a clue what in the world he's talking about.

    January 2, 2010 at 9:27 am |
  26. Jack

    What a sad decline in the art of cheating!

    When I taught poli sci for one year in university, 1970, students would filch from true authorities on the subject. You would get a wonderfully written excerpt from Henry Steele Commager or Richard Hofstader. Now you're served disorganized gibberish from ESL graduates in Kiev or Karachi. Sheesh!

    January 2, 2010 at 12:08 am |
  27. ebonitia

    I am a high school social studies teacher. I teach US History. I do an excellent job of teaching the story of a "free country" that has never had any integrity from its very inception with the signing of a constitution that included the continuation of chattel slavery to the ongoing denial of civil rights and equal protection under the law for all of its citizens. Why should our children value knowledge and wisdom for its own sake?
    INTEGRITY is what holds a thing together. You wonder why this society is grumbling and crumbling? Integrity sustains balance. This is a society that has never known balance on any level. The scales of justice require balance. This society has never been capable of dispensing justice. And now, we dare to require that our children demonstrate a level of integrity they have never seen or even heard about. They are "products" of their environment.

    January 1, 2010 at 7:48 pm |
  28. Skeptic

    The issue with such papers is very simple–if one cannot prove that a substantial amount of a paper was taken verbatim from a website, administrators will not punish it. Two reasons–first, lawsuits. Second–that's how they wrote their own papers.

    I cannot count the number of times that an administrator (most of them with education or business degrees) told me that a "plagiarized" paper was a genuine effort on the part of the student to abide by scholarly writing standards that I was not clearly explaining. It is the standards, so they tell us, that are wrong. Now, why would they say that if they didn't do the same thing themselves?

    Sadly, a brief look through the writing of such people (and, yes, this has been done) shows that they do plagiarize–and they plagiarize liberally.

    The only way (in the present climate in which administrators do all they can to keep students enrolled in the university so as to keep getting revenue) to combat the purchase of papers from overseas, plagiarized papers created from a collage of sources, etc. is to have assignments that are way too specific to be easily plagiarized, to grade very heavily on grammar/style/usage, and to deduct points for simple, inarguable things like failure to have a results section in the proper format or use of prohibited sources. It really isn't that hard–one just has to be really hard-nosed about basic stuff and not give an inch.

    January 1, 2010 at 7:43 pm |
  29. Glendale

    I am a college prof. in the west and term papers are absolutely worhtless unless you like writing blogs, which are also worthless.

    January 1, 2010 at 5:17 pm |
  30. Grammar Snob

    Ariel,

    Here are some periods. Learn how to use them.

    ...................................................

    January 1, 2010 at 4:49 pm |
  31. pensimmon

    I think the only solution for colleges is to have potential students write an essay (well supervised) in the presence of a college administrator. You could have 100 or more all writing at once, in a silent hall, desks 6 feet apart.

    January 1, 2010 at 1:49 pm |
  32. Jeff

    Why make good grades in high school? To go to a good college. Why make good grades in college? To get a good degree. Why get a good degree? To get a good job. Why get a good job? To make lots of money. Why make lots of money? To live the American 'dream'.
    Academia's emphasis has been on learning, but culture's emphasis has always been about 'getting'. Until that changes, students are highly motivated (and rewarded) to cheat.

    January 1, 2010 at 9:13 am |
  33. Susan

    I have read all your comments and agree with them. The American Education System desperately needs to be reformed. After years of teaching from Elementary to College level, I no longer have a job because I refused to give grades demanded by the Hispanic students and Administrators in the Miami School System, especially Miami-Dade College (MDC) and Florida International University (FIU), where degrees are given to foreign students with the professors having other students do their academic work and submitted as their work. These foreign students [from all Latin countries, India, Pakistan, Brazil, etc] are given tuition waivers, a stipend, and more opportunities to conduct studies, but the American students are left out in the cold with student loans to pay back for the rest of their lives. The foreign students gets every opportunity for a bogus education [because the professors at FIU do not have an idea of what they are teaching], learns nothing, but takes a degree from FIU, go back to their country and live life as a prominent and proud citizen who used the US School system. There are Professors and Administrators at FIU who is waiting for the opportunity to take a branch of FIU (funded by the US Govt) to Cuba when Gastro dies; they are not afraid to say it out publicly.

    The students do not want to work for their grades, but demands it and when not given, they go in droves to the uneducated administrators who puts the burden on the teachers, and disposes of them, especially if you are English-speaking only.

    Our school system needs a wash out!

    January 1, 2010 at 9:06 am |
  34. Maranda

    As a current graduate student, I find this issue to be less about the dumbing down of America and more about the excessive workload required by most academic institutions. There are literally not enough hours in the day to complete all the work that we are given, so some of us choose to buy a portion of our work online. Although I have never taken advantage of these websites, I can certainly understand the appeal.

    December 31, 2009 at 7:27 pm |
  35. Lynn

    I am a college professor, and every semester I catch at least one student blatantly cheating–usually plagiarism. Often the student is quite an accomplished cheater, and obviously do it frequently. I make it very clear at throughout the semester that anyone suspected of cheating with fail the exam or paper, and perhaps the class. Sometimes the student who has been caught, will refer to the pressure of maintaining good grades. I reinforce that this is not, nor will ever be, an acceptable reason to cheat. In those cases, where they admit they have cheated, they will earn a zero on the assignment, but I allow them to remain in the class as long as they don't do it again. Most times however, the student blatantly (and often rudely) denies that they have done anything wrong–when I have overwhelming evidence indicating otherwise. Cheating at the college level is rampant, and we owe it to those hard-working, honest students to get it under control. Professors and teachers must show students through sanctioning, that it is better to do your best and earn a 60% on a paper or exam, than to cheat and earn a zero, perhaps fail the class, and be reported to the dean.

    December 31, 2009 at 7:11 pm |
  36. Andy

    Although I agree the farming out of essays is not a good thing, I fail to see why ..

    "The media acting as the eyes of the society ought to practice its role with the highest journalistic ethics possible; feeding the society with information of unquestionable source to perpetuate the credibility and the moral obligation bestowed to it."

    ... is not a coherent thought.

    I can understand it completely.

    It calls the media to task for providing unbiased, accurate information to keep the confidence of the general public.

    Even if the form of the statement is incorrect it does not nullify the meaning.

    December 31, 2009 at 4:02 pm |
  37. Anon

    Maybe this article was outsourced to India.

    December 31, 2009 at 2:45 pm |
  38. Sue

    I happen to see an ad on one of the engineering college (in India) website for part-time workers in America or India who can work on the assignments given to MS students in American universities. This is not just essay. These are everyday assignments given to MS Comp Science, MS IT and MS SE students that requires technical skills. My guess is, the clients are mostly Indian or other non-American students doing MS in America. This was a big shock to me.

    Cheating in the exams and taking a shortcut is very common in India because of extreme competition. Now, there are lot of people getting MS degrees from unheard of universities in America. These universities need the money and don't care how the students earn their degrees. If these students got their undergrad degree by cheating, they will continue to do the same where ever they go.

    Sue

    December 31, 2009 at 1:30 pm |
  39. adams fallon

    The plagiarism problem has a long history in American higher education, especially in first-year college courses. The Chronicle of Higher Education has reported over the decades that across all the American colleges, most of these first-year classes, especially writing classes, are staffed by adjunct professors, freeing full-time professors from the grunt work of teaching students in entry-level courses to write academically/professionally. The average class size is about 25-30 students, writing 5-7 finished (two-draft) essays per course. For this work, the adjunct instructor (most of whom take these jobs hoping them to be the required stepping stone to the coveted and disappointingly rare full-time faculty position, the job posting for which stipulates that applicants must have three-years of college teaching experience) is paid somewhere between $1800 and $2400 dollars (gross), without employee benefits, for a fifteen-week course, roughly $140 per week gross. To combat plagiarism we design writing topics that discourage students from being paper-mill customers. We espouse our colleges' academic integrity protocols from the first day of class. And we know that in general, our American colleges cannot afford to professionally staff full-time positions for first-year, writing-required courses; like many in my position, I have taught three-to-four courses in many semesters in many colleges, always on part-time, semester-only contracts that protect the colleges, pay little, and offer no job security. Some argue that entering students who may lack academic and/or moral integrity are somewhat passively encouraged by such a system to risk what are often minor penalties; Step 1 in many colleges' plagiarism policies is minor, such as a failure for the individual draft and an instructive reprimand against repeating the academic fraud. Plagiarism is common since the Internet's development, but for $140 a week, how many Americans would sign up to teach three hours of class, prep 1 hour for each class, grade 25 essay drafts, and hold 2 hours of office time? The problem appears in our classrooms but originates in the common college HR practice of hiring a high proportion of adjunct professors, poorly paying them,
    and yet expecting them to bear the brunt of the problem of plagiarism. None of this truth made it into this new article to which I respond.

    December 31, 2009 at 11:41 am |
  40. Mike

    Excellent news! Not only did I get a tip to make a little money, I can also do a job that will thwart the efforts of any kids trying to take my job. I'm going to join essaywriters and crank out as many term papers as I can! Every one I sell means one less opponent I'll have to face in the job market. I have no problem selling ropes to idiots that want to hang themselves, we've got 6+ billion people its not like there's a shortage.

    December 31, 2009 at 5:55 am |
  41. Mark

    One way my college cut down on buying term papers was a requirement that 50%+ of the references MUST be from a source available in the campus library. If this criteria is not met – automatic F.

    December 30, 2009 at 9:54 pm |
  42. drosz

    Bridget,

    It's not really grades that are the problem, it's how our society approaches getting our kids ready to support themselves and how the hiring process works. For those kids who are gifted in certian subjects and are able to acheive an A on their own, the system works. It allows the universities, parents and the kid to determine where a student might be able to get the most out of higher education and whether a particular school would be too much for them.

    But not everyone needs to go to college. There are those kids out there who are pressured to go to college and really don't have the capacity to excel at that level of education. Whether they're lazy or just not bright enough to do it.

    However, when income over a lifetime is so closely related to levels of education, it's difficult to blame them. Quite frankly, that's a mistake that seems to have snowballed IMO. I imagine all of us out there have experiences where someone who has proven to be somewhat a dim bulb has attended top schools (and they seem to be the ones who find it necessary to mention their alma maters VERY often). On the other hand, we've probably come into contact with folks from bottom tier schools who have proven to be brilliant.

    As long as employers place more emphasis on if and where someone went to school, this type of stuff will always happen. Parents and students being more concerned with grades than knowledge is just a symptom of a feature of society and the workplace.

    December 30, 2009 at 4:27 pm |
  43. Cleopaktra

    After 14 year of public education at mediocure performance I finally found "How to Study" classes like SQ4R (Survey, Question, Read, Rite, Recite & Review). The result was 4.00 performance in English, Math, History, Science and Art.

    Interesting How America throws higher salaries at teachers, but never teaches students how to increase their effeciency to study and learn. Is this on purpose and planned?

    Bill,

    May be you were not listening to what the teacher was telling you to do in class; that is why it took you 14 years to learn a simple thing like SQ4R but as a teacher I am glad you finally did learn it. However, you still have spelling errors in your posting. I teach 10th & 11th grade English and 85% of my students still have no idea what a plot line is. Bridget is right about passing the students to the next grade level without learning the content. Students have absolutely no accountability and teachers are always blamed for their bad grades. You cannot pay the teachers enough for what they do in class every single day. I challenge you to go volunteer for week in any classroom in a nearby school and you will realize how hard it is to be a teacher and how underpaid they really are. Like Bridget, I also became a teacher because I wanted to and am proud to be not just a teacher but the one who does her best to support the students; whether or not, they choose to take advantage of that support is another story.

    December 30, 2009 at 4:09 pm |
  44. Karen Klemens

    There are several sites that have a strict cheating policy and are aimed at HELPING students with their homework - not helping them cheat. One site is http://www.studentoffortune.com. where students can get online help via tutorials.

    December 30, 2009 at 3:43 pm |
  45. Anon

    I find it entertaining and appropriate that the first comment to this story references the Jay Leno "Jay-Walking" comedy segment. We have a story which details students taking others ideas and claiming them as their own; the Jay-Walking segment is a blatant copy of a bit Howard Stern as been doing (and Howards is much funnier, I must add) for years.

    Do your own work people; you may just learn something about yourself...

    December 30, 2009 at 2:12 pm |
  46. Caliban

    As an English instructor at an urban university, I am very familiar with the problem of plagiarism and purchased papers. I was not aware, however, that many of these paper mill sites are based overseas. Fortunately, most of my students could never afford to pay such outrageous amounts for ready-made papers. Instead, they just copy-and-paste from free material on the internet. Some of my students have received such poor training in writing that they truly do not understand the rules for fair use of outside sources and documentation of sources; others resort to plagiarism as an act of desperation and panic, as they are taking a full load of courses and working too many hours in order to pay for college. Such explanations do not excuse their poor choices or eliminate the penalties for their dishonesty (at my school, these penalties range from a grade of zero on the assignment to suspension or even expulsion, depending upon the circumstances). I offer these explanations simply to suggest that the problem is not simply a matter of laziness or inherent dishonesty.

    On another note, several of the commenters on this site could use a refresher course in the basics of Standard English grammar, punctuation, and spelling. Numerous errors like these significantly weaken a writer's position on any issue, but they are particularly distracting–or, perhaps, ironically appropriate–when a writer is criticizing the American education system.

    December 30, 2009 at 1:31 pm |
  47. sjenkinsdc

    At what point will we put the responsibility on the people buying the papers? There will always be temptation and it will only get greater with technological advances. Everyone seems to be pointed the finger everywhere except with the people buying the reports.

    They are the ones dumbing themselves down. They are the ones not getting properly educated because of their own choices. I would suggest someone come up with a way to spot these bought papers, but there will never be a perfect solution to the problem. Cheating has always existed and always will, and the loser in the end will always be the cheater in some way shape or form.

    December 30, 2009 at 10:20 am |
  48. Wale Falodun

    The financial advice given this morning was dead on. It was on the behalf of consumers and should be applied to every financial transaction from banking to fast food and so on.

    December 30, 2009 at 9:21 am |
  49. Bridget

    On 9/8, Bill wrote "throwing higher salaries at teachers, but never teaching students to increase proficienty...." In some areas of the country that may be true, but do a little back-tracking as to why this happens. Public school districts across America receive most of their federal dollars for education based on School Performance Scores which includes points for lowered absenteeism, student grades, and standardized testing, to name a few. The higher performing schools receive a larger share of the money, which as a teacher, makes no sense to me. The districts, individual schools and their administrators, and teachers (who by the way receive incentive bonuses for increased student performance) are so focused on money, which leads to decreased educational focus on student learning. Students are being passed without mastering grade level content because it looks good on paper. I teach 6th grade Reading and for the past three years, the students who came to me had no clue how to find, for example, main idea and supporting details, even in a one paragraph text. The 6th grade math teacher saw one student trying to work the problem "2936 x 215" by writing the first number, 215 times. Who is responsible for passing this student without being able to multiply? One answer to that is the pressure that administrators and district personnel place on teachers. Just ask a teacher before you make any judgments .And by the way, after 4 years of college, earning "Highly Qualified" status, taking classes to improve my teaching, and participating in seminars to improve my teaching skills, I still make less than $35, 000.00 yearly before taxes and insurance deductions. My net pay is approximately $22,000.00 yearly. By the way, many teachers work year round, on holidays, and weekends in order to be prepared for the lessons. It's not just an 8 to 3 job like most people think.

    No one asked me to be a teacher, rather it is a calling – either you are or you aren't. I am a teacher and proud to be one; one by the way who would not bow to pressure from anyone to pass a child who did not master the Reading skills that are necessary for the next level. Not all of us are in it for the money; trust me on that because Louisiana ranks near the bottom in teacher pay.

    December 30, 2009 at 8:56 am |
  50. Bridget

    One problem with American education is the fixation on grades. For the majority of students and their parents, the grade is important, not the actual learning that went into creating a final product. Currently I teach 6th grade and I see this more and more each day. It is difficult to describe the meetings with parents who focus on grades. They really don't care if their kids learn anything, as long as report cards look good. School districts exhibit that same mentality because it makes school performance scores rise, which means more money for the district. Nothing matters, even educating kids, except getting federal dollars. This goes on across the country. So, when the kids get to college, they are used to receiving good grades for mediocre work (if it's that good). Since the kids realize they don't have the skills when they get to college, they have to resort to plagiarism. The public school system would be soooo much better off with less government interference. Just ask teachers who are in the middle of this fight; I should know because I fight this everyday with the district, administration, and parents.

    December 30, 2009 at 8:39 am |
  51. kari

    American youth have grown up seeing that money will fix anything...We live in a society that rewards wealth not intelligence or character. Why should they have to work hard or apply themselves when they can pay for the same results. We have a whole generation that doesn't appreciate the rewards of hard work...

    December 30, 2009 at 8:36 am |
  52. John

    This story frustrates me so much as a college student. 600 kids at UC- San Diego have to take a class for cheating? KICK THEM OUT. My school would not tolerate that and it really makes me angry that any institution would on any level.

    It'll be nice when they can cheat in the workplace. Really discredits all the hard work real college students put into their grades.

    December 30, 2009 at 8:32 am |
  53. paul huylebroeck

    john roberts, as a canadian you should have recognized that if it's 1 degree in northern vt and minus 20 in montreal it's an error . canada is giving it's weather in celsious minus20 celsious is more like plus 1 F

    December 30, 2009 at 7:47 am |
  54. Wale Falodun

    Good job on the coverage of the young terror suspect by digging into his past. You give an accurate portrayl of Nigeria. Nigeria never will have Al Qaeda because that is weakness. Nigerians fight even during religious service. Nigerians don't own guns because Nigerians know their enemies. On other issues Rupert Murdoch cannot stand in battle against Ted Turner because Jehovah is backing Ted Turner. These are the names of those in the business sector that are leading the recovery. If your name is not on the list play your position.1)Warren Buffet, 2) Bill Gates, 3) Ted Turner. In the speculation market the list is as follows 1) Erin Burnett, 2) Jim Cramer, 3) Leslie Stahl (CBS).

    December 30, 2009 at 6:31 am |
  55. Sally O'Boyle

    It's a fact that public education has been dumbing us down since the U.S. government first marched kids into school at gunpoint. Even a cursory investigation into the stated purpose of government education reveals that it is not about education, it is about indoctrination: to make us nicer, more obedient. Funny, I didn't learn that in school...

    We home schooled our boys. They are bright, funny, curious, articulate. They can do long division, they can spell, they can think. They are looking forward realistically. Their heads are not crammed full of useless facts they will forget soon after graduation and they weren't taught to a test.

    Like most government run programs (although successful at producing obedient citizens), public education has failed its citizens on the education front. Time to end it, give all school-tax funding back to the citizens and tax breaks so one parent can afford to stay home and teach the kids. Let's coin a new phrase: "It takes a family to raise a child."

    October 21, 2009 at 9:07 am |
  56. Vickie

    TASK curriculum is apparently not working, since it's existence has only resulted in drop-out rate to increase. Students say they are bored with their classes and school studying 7-8 hours, TASK! Whatever happened to School outings to the symphony, Coca-Cola company. manufacturing plants and corporations showing where studying hard ends.

    October 5, 2009 at 9:39 am |
  57. Vickie

    George,
    Most Professors/Teachers give syllabus which cover effective study techniques along with the instructors preferences, usually covered in the 1st class meeting.

    October 5, 2009 at 9:19 am |
  58. Vickie

    The university I graduated from; the Professors made it very clear they would check to see if your paper was bought and we all know what happens next. Granted I graduated from a religious university-makes no difference, however. Our children are placed under our guidance for a reason;if they see us cheat, be dishonest, kill, steal or abuse powers and laws as corporate america and government have-what on Gods earth do you expect? Uh America!

    October 5, 2009 at 9:09 am |
  59. George

    Bill
    One possible reason why teachers don't teach students how to study efficiently is because society doesn't them to do so. Society assumes that the students will develop their own way of studying the material given them. A teacher's expected job is to teach a group of students about a particular subject. Ideally, the teacher offers to tutor students who desire help and, during a session, offers some studying advice. However, in reality, there exists unmotivated teachers, which are common in public schools, who just focus on their core job i.e. informing students about a particular subject. The problem of teachers not teaching efficient studying techniques is not unique to public education. In some universities and colleges, professor usually don't teach students efficient studying techniques. Usually, the schools offer an efficient studying workshop. So, the task of teaching students how to study efficiently may be outsourced.

    September 30, 2009 at 11:13 am |
  60. ariel

    I am a student and if we have more school longer school year less summer there is going to be no extra time for aftrer school sports and more of our nations kids will become obese and no kids will have time to shop or go to the movies places like that then they wont have customers and they will start laying people off and fireing people jobs will be lost. Also kids will stay ip later doing homework and getting less sleep. See i am all for edjucation butits going to affect alot more.

    September 30, 2009 at 6:44 am |
  61. Anon.

    It is high time that the media, the country and its officials look into this matter with depth. Not only as one involving academic dishonesty but also of foreigners (Ukrainians) who operate these websites offering these services to American students. As shown in the video, the Ukrainian owner used false US addresses on its websites (as well as in its incorporation/registration papers).

    Finally, the government should look into the alleged deportation and the subsequent cases filed with warrants in debt issued but not served because he is no longer in US territory. The cause of deportation may have a direct bearing on the operation of the business. If allegedly deported, why does he have to make it appear that the entire business is being operated in the US when the truth is, it is being operated in Ukraine.

    September 21, 2009 at 12:22 pm |
  62. Anon.

    Outsourcing presupposes legitimately established companies in the US and overseas. A legitimately established company is one that is organized, established, and incorporated in accordance with the laws where it is registered or incorporated. The essay websites discussed both in this article and the video obviously do not fall under that.
    Virginia corporate laws require actual physical office where operations are conducted which is to be specified in the corporate papers. Universal Research LLC under which these websites operated specified a Plaza America Drive address in Reston, Virginia. On the other hand, Essaywriters.net specified the Icy Brook drive address (also in Va). These are false addresses. The one in Reston is a UPS store while the Icy Brook address is the residence of Mr. Guevarra as shown in the video.

    Records in Va offices show that there are no business licenses issued for these entities. These websites are operated in Ukraine so why was this not specified in the corporate papers? Obviously tax issues.

    After the cancellation of the registration of Universal Research LLC, all these websites still operated and after almost a year, a new company was incorporated, Universal Research Inc. under which the websites continued to operate. There appears to be no liquidation as required by the laws of Virginia. Obviously, corporation law issues.

    The web contains a staggering number of complaints from writers both from US and foreign writers who were allegedly duped and not paid their fees. Even in a Ukrainian message forum, the Ukrainian writers claimed that Essaywriters.net fabricate complaints of customers as well as plagiarism reports so that they can withhold the fees already earned. Obviously, payment issues.

    In another message forum, a poster claimed that the owner of these websites was allegedly deported for fraud. Consequently, what is its implication on the foreign jurisdiction where he registered his business. Moreover, the Virginia list of court cases show many archived cases filed against the owner of these websites and warrants in debt issued against them. Perhaps another reason why the owners allowed the cancellation of the LLC registration and after the lapse of substantial period, incorporated a new company under another Ukrainian. (The LLC had been just garnished this year based on court records. I just wonder what was garnished when the registration of the LLC was cancelled in 2007 and its alleged office is a UPS store mailbox at Plaza America, Reston.)

    All these issues do not only obtain in the US but also in the Philippines and in UK. There is an investigation being made. This is the reason why now, the false addresses specified on the websites have been deleted.

    Gist of the article? The article includes a link (where corporate papers are posted) and in addition, the web is a good source of research. Of course, the agents of these websites would interpose the over used defense that the evidence and complaints are posted by "disgruntled" writers or competitors STILL the evidence speaks for itself.

    September 18, 2009 at 11:34 pm |
  63. xxx

    "Outsourcing is a dirty little word among many Americans. When companies use cheap labor overseas to make products or perform services it often means those jobs are lost in the United States."

    Anon, generally in news or feature writing, where can you find the gist of the article?

    September 14, 2009 at 11:26 pm |
  64. Anon.

    I would not even dare put a grade on the preceding comment. The issue is not outsourcing. The issue is the proliferation of essay writing websites with false US addresses being run in Ukraine by a person who allegedly was deported by the government for criminal violations and is now accepting your credit card details when you order your essay.

    Now do you get the logic why IC3's and FBI's jurisdictions are invoked.

    September 12, 2009 at 10:53 am |
  65. xxx

    ROFL...the reporter and the CNN bragged this academic cheating report. before putting blame on the shoulder of the non-American writers, have your article on this website be graded by that professor. I am pretty sure that your title alone will also be given an "F"...you must learn the proper way of using colon and the better way of writing headlines...Are you describing the entire educative process of Americans in your headline?
    The CNN, instead, must feature the proliferation of American pornographic CDs and DVDs in the third world countries and its impact on the crime rate and sexual abuses in those countries...
    As well, American media must look on the inevitable truth that even legal companies, as defined by American laws, are outsourcing their businesses in the third world regions. In fact, call centers that offer various services are now prevalent in India and Asian countries. Moreover, even the editing of technical and scientific journals of American institutions are now being done in the Philippines by SPI and EMCI through their American company counterparts...LMAO

    With regards to the custom essay writing, most American students earn either an Excellent or Very Satisfactory grade; this is the reason why they keep on using web-based writing services.

    September 10, 2009 at 3:45 pm |
  66. Anon.

    No society is perfect. But with what you are advocating, well, why do we not just give the country to the dogs after all, according to you political parties, media and administrations have launched wars against countries that never attacked the country.
    And while we are at that, we should allow these Ukrainians to allegedly tinker with the credit cards of our students when they make payment for these services notwithstanding the fact that these are being operated in Ukraine and that they hide about that fact by allegedly placing bogus addresses on their websites. In addition, we should also allow people to get away with non payment of proper taxes and alleged violation of our laws.
    Sure, we should not respect and comply with our laws because after all some people are violating them. Let us be disrespectful, dishonest and cheaters after all, some officials are that.
    I just find the logic absurd. Respect and compliance with the laws by the citizenry have nothing to do with the manner how some officials implement them. We do not follow the laws simply because we like the officials implementing them, do we?

    September 8, 2009 at 2:17 pm |
  67. Bill

    "Actions speak louder than WORDS"

    Political parites, Media and Administrations go to war against countries that never attacked America (Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan) with outright lies (WMD, Sadam & Alquida connections, etc.). As just 1 example.

    And we wonder why children might cheat to get what they want. You cannot play Machevallie Politics where the END is justified by the MEANS and expect to have a civil society and expect children not to learn from our example. People are not stupid with or without education.

    When the Media incourages honest debate, fair play and respect. Maybe then and only then can you expect to motivate the children to play by the rules of society. If you want honesty then be honest. You cannot teach truth by being untruthful. It is reality not fanasty

    September 8, 2009 at 8:58 am |
  68. Bill

    After 14 year of public education at mediocure performance I finally found "How to Study" classes like SQ4R (Survey, Question, Read, Rite, Recite & Review). The result was 4.00 performance in English, Math, History, Science and Art.

    Interesting How America throws higher salaries at teachers, but never teaches students how to increase their effeciency to study and learn. Is this on purpose and planned?

    September 8, 2009 at 8:46 am |
  69. Anon.

    My own opinion is that there is no such thing as "old news." The press, more than ever should move the public, specifically the education sector and the government to take a solid stand against academic dishonesty. Moreover, for the lawmakers to address the growing problem with appropriate effective regulations.

    Beyond the issue of academic dishonesty that has ridden the educational system, the officials should look into the possible violations of its corporation laws (both state and federal) as well as the alleged tax evasion by reason of the falsity of the specified tax jurisdiction/s.

    Bestessays and essaywriters are alleged to be owned by Universal Research LLC registered both before the Commonwealth of Virginia and the State of Nevada but which respective registrations had been cancelled. The Va State of Corporation Commission cancelled the registration last December 31, 2007. However, these websites under Universal Research LLC continued operating in alleged violation of the Va Code which requires liquidation and dissolution. In less than a year, Universal Research Inc. was incorporated and soon all these websites are placed under its umbrella. The websites specified alleged bogus addresses. What has the government done?

    Everything is being done under our noses. The consumer advocates have exposed all these issues in the different fora and a number of writers have filed complaints before the IC3, FBI and other government offices for non payment of the fees they already earned. Media has covered the issues a number of times as well. What has the government done? and the responsible officials?

    Do they really expect the students who used the services of these websites and who were short-changed, file complaints which in effect is an admission of cheating? Surely not.

    Are these Ukrainians authorized to do business in the country? If so, why would they post alleged false addresses on their websites?

    The pervading issues are more than just academic dishonesty. For peace and order to reign in our society, we need to instill obedience and compliance with our laws through the institutional mechanisms established by a democratic society.

    September 6, 2009 at 8:55 am |
  70. stanley.e.hayward

    I am a black man who love's this country very much.To see and hear so many none blacks have a potection veiw about the president .May be they would like to have Bush back in the white house.Most of them have forgot that McCain and Bush wanted to do with social security.Yes,the face in the white house is no longer the same old one that has been in place for over 200 years it has changed and so must we.

    September 5, 2009 at 3:04 pm |
  71. Margaret

    This subject is "old news". This subject matter was reported several years ago, I believe, on Dateline. This problem is beyond,just obtaining essays,anyone can also, obtain a college diploma along with an impressive transcripts, for a price. I know of this first hand, after working with young college grads in Int'l banking because, I had to train them! Most were dumber than a box of rocks,had little or almost no common sense nor concept of general principles! However, they were paid approx. $40,000.00 a year more then me. Haven't any of you folks ever watched Jay Lenos' "Jay walking" segments. Whereby Mr. Leno, would randomly interview people, mostly young college students, on general knowledge questions. Most of the young people, were not only unable to answer common knowledge questions for their respective career paths correctly, they didn't even have the correct answers for common knowledge questions like who was the current Vice President! Upon viewing these segments, it was to most humorous but it sadden me to know that these young people, would someday be in power, in job related positions, to make major decisions on the course of our country!!!

    September 5, 2009 at 9:02 am |