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Paying someone to write your essay for you

(40 Posts)
var123 Thu 19-May-16 09:50:49

I found this online by accident when looking for something else. I am a bit shocked, tbh. Isn't this blatant cheating?

PurpleDaisies Thu 19-May-16 09:53:50

Yes it is, and if schools find it they can expel you.

LunaLoveg00d Thu 19-May-16 15:53:44

I am a freelance writer and refuse to do people's homework or university coursework for them - and I am approached regularly for this sort of work. The only work I will ever do along these lines is when a non-native speaker of English needs help tweaking an essay/report for grammar and sentence structure. I'll happily help with that sort of thing as I'm not doing the research and the writing of the report.

I also think that if you get an essay from this sort of provider you run the risk of very shoddy work. Teachers and Uni lecturers are also not daft and have plagiarism software.

Bolograph Thu 19-May-16 15:58:55

Teachers and Uni lecturers are also not daft and have plagiarism software.

But it doesn't work if the essay is bespoke.

It's very hard to deal with. We've all seen cases of students whose course work is fine, but whose examination script is impossible to decipher, so bad is the English and/or incoherent the thinking. It might be the stress of an exam, it might be having to do an exam on paper rather than typing it, it might be all sorts of things. It might be that the coursework was done by someone else. And the disconnect is easier to spot for students whose first language isn't English; for those that is, it's much harder.

My university is responding by moving more and more of the assessment to terminal exams, which are much harder to cheat in. Which is a shame, because other forms of assessment are valuable and valued. But unfortunately, the cheating is hard to detect, even harder to prove, we don't have the resources to viva every student (viva-ing just the ones you're suspicious about wouldn't end well), what can we do?

catslife Thu 19-May-16 16:24:09

There is a recent BBC article about this issue. See link
For GCSEs and A levels "coursework" is now done under controlled conditions in school but agree that it could be a big problem for universities.
For postgraduate theses and dissertations a viva is the norm.
My only suggestion for undergraduates is that students present their work to other students for a peer review.

ScottishProf Thu 19-May-16 20:17:08

Agree with Bolograph. My university doesn't have a formal policy to move away from assessment based on things not done under exam conditions - yet. However, I personally have reached the point where I will refuse to teach a course whose assessment isn't done under exam conditions, because I feel it's unethical, at least in our climate. We can't (quite rightly, perhaps) take action to change a student's mark on the basis of suspecting they didn't do the work; we have to be able to prove it. In practice, if a student has commissioned something that's just for them, and they deny it, then proving it to the university's satisfaction is impossible. So as a lecturer, you quickly learn not to look closely enough to develop the suspicions, because you know you can do nothing with them. That's not fair on the vast majority of students who do the work themselves. I know that relying solely on exam is not fair on those who don't perform to their best in exams (really I know, I was one!) but it seems to be the least worst option, sadly.

irvineoneohone Thu 19-May-16 20:39:54

I have watched US tv drama about poor students doing work for rich failing students for money, which ultimately end up in murder case.
So it sounds like it's not completely fake...(hopefully not murder!)

noblegiraffe Thu 19-May-16 22:35:11

One of my sixth formers told me that he earns cash doing American kids' maths homework for them. He does it, scans and sends them his answers and they copy it out. Quite lucrative apparently.

var123 Thu 19-May-16 22:51:29

It is all a bit depressing to read these responses and think of all the students who could excel but not when up against professional writers.
I guess its not illegal, just immoral?

HapShawl Thu 19-May-16 22:59:08

There are often ways to detect it through the metadata (and although students who do this are devious, they are not usually on the ball enough to change this aspect), but you would need to suspect already iyswim, because it's not feasible to check every file in that level of detail

The really major issue is for courses that lead to professional registration (eg HCPs), because it's more than just an issue of academic misconduct, it calls their fitness to practise into question

Leeds2 Thu 19-May-16 23:07:11

Presumably, noblegiraffe, it is the kids' parents who are paying for this? How utterly depressing. Very enterprising of your student though!

var123 Fri 20-May-16 07:58:53

Would this work to reduce the level of abuse of the system:-

Non-terminal exam work continues to contribute to the overall mark, but the score from each unmonitored piece of work is only confirmed after the final exam. If there is only a small discrepancy between the two, then all the results are confirmed and added up.
However, if there is a significant difference between the two, then the unsupervised work is subject to the "viva" process. If the course work passes, then the results are confirmed.
Failing the viva process results in the student having to re-do it over the summer and graduating late. Or even being kicked out if cheating is proved.

Bolograph Fri 20-May-16 08:05:20

There are often ways to detect it through the metadata

But not enough to convince a university discipline process.

If there is only a small discrepancy

If continuous and terminal assessment are assumed to correlate, why bother using both?

ScottishProf Fri 20-May-16 08:05:58

No, because the viva process couldn't prove the student had cheated, only raise suspicions. Suspicions are not enough. Students would say, for example, that it was their work but in the months since they did it they'd forgotten a lot. In most cases it would be true...

ScottishProf Fri 20-May-16 08:11:20

I think the way to go is to design exams to minimise stress. I'm tending to make them open book and allow plenty of time, for example. That way I'm not testing what you can remember or how fast you can do stuff, but I am checking that you, not your friends or Internet supplier, can do it.

HapShawl Fri 20-May-16 08:17:59

I am part of a university academic discipline process. Where it is picked up, it has certainly been enough to convince. Obviously this will depend on different institutions

HapShawl Fri 20-May-16 08:22:59

Btw I should say, my institution is also keen to include more examinations for the same reason. It is a real shame that that is required

Bolograph Fri 20-May-16 08:27:53

I'm tending to make them open book and allow plenty of time, for example.

I want to do that, but it's a conflicting set of pressures. In my day, exams, particularly finals, were often three hours, as they still are some other universities. We use 90 minute and 120 minute exams for 10 and 20 credit courses, as a baseline, with longer in special cases, which apparently (I wasn't in academia at the time) was a response to complaints about volume of exams. We then respond to dyslexia and other similar problems with an extra 25% or 50% of time. People with those allowances usually take their exam in an alternative, smaller venue which has invigilators laid on for longer.

But if you started having three hour exams, we'd need 4h30 for some people, which takes us into the problems of breaks: we've just vetoed a three hour computer-based exam on that basis. The departments which do "so much time everyone can finish" (a) have to explain why the extra-time students don't get extra time, which may not be easy and (b) resource the invigilation and venues, which is problematic.

I like the look of 24 hour take-home exams, in the hope that isn't long enough for for-hire writers to respond, but one can imagine a premium service arising, on standby for the day...

Bolograph Fri 20-May-16 08:28:36

Where it is picked up, it has certainly been enough to convince.

You've taken action on metadata alone?

Bolograph Fri 20-May-16 08:32:22

Oh, and I've heard it at least bruited that the problem with open book exams is that they make the problems for some SpLD students worse, not better, because they throw the emphasis back on the construction and use of notes and the rapid accessing of written information. The debate hasn't happened in depth yet, however.

I think we hit a problem that once you're (properly) not willing to say "there's the exam, you've got X hours, if you can't do that exam in that time, tough", there's then a conflicting set of reasonable adjustments which pull in different directions. Extra time is a blunt instrument. How do you deal with SpLD for open-book?

Piemernator Fri 20-May-16 08:35:47

Universities use software called turn it in which scans for patterns within work and if a certain percentage is hit it is flagged up. They are called in and depending on what and how and that Universities policy it can lead to no marks up to expulsion for plagiarism.

But if it's bespoke then there is bugger all that can be done. PHD thesis have even been written but they cost thousands and that must be pretty rare.

Bolograph Fri 20-May-16 08:47:41

But if it's bespoke then there is bugger all that can be done

I thought of working with our friends in forensic linguistics and developing a system whereby we get students to write an essay under exam conditions early in the programme, and we then use authorship and style tools to compare that with subsequent submissions. "Here's a corpus of material by X, is this suspect document written by X?" is meat and drink to them. But the volumes required aren't small, and of course the obvious response is "I came to university to improve my writing, so of course it has changed". You could get them to do one exam conditions exam during the period they are submitting take-homes, but the volumes are still an issue.

ScottishProf Fri 20-May-16 08:58:08

We're also under pressure to reduce the number of exams - to such an extent that we are no longer allowed to have one exam per 10 credit course, because the poor dears ;-) can't be expected to do more than three exams in one diet, would you believe. Fortunately in my subject it's generally possible to get a good idea of competence with quite a short exam. I pity my humanities colleagues!

BertrandRussell Fri 20-May-16 09:04:29

A million years ago, I made money writing essays for fellow students. It was easy in those pre internet days. blush

AyeAmarok Fri 20-May-16 09:33:27

One of the ways some universities have tried to combat it is to bring in the student and basically do a viva type procedure where the student has to defend their submission - discuss it, argue the points, etc. It's very difficult to do that of you haven't written it yourself. I'm sure some people don't even read it before putting it in TBH.

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