But what if the entire semester's work has been ghostwritten?
Another disturbing question concerns the writers who produce such essays. One answer may be that many academics find themselves in dead-end, part-time teaching positions that pay so poorly that they cannot make ends meet, and essay writing can be quite a lucrative business.
Essay writing has become a cottage industry premised on systematic flaunting of the most basic aims of higher education. Some of these Web sites offer testimonials from satisfied customers.
The very fact that such services exist reflects a deep and widespread misunderstanding of why colleges and universities ask students to write essays in the first place. One crows that he received a B on a ghostwritten history essay he submitted at a prestigious Ivy League institution.
They do not ask students to jot down preliminary ideas or submit rough drafts for editing and critique.
They do not even encourage them to pose questions about the subject matter. A student in an undergraduate course recently submitted a truly first-rate term paper.In form, it was extremely well crafted, exhibiting a level of writing far beyond the typical undergraduate.Not exactly, because plagiarism implies stealing someone else's work and calling it one's own.In this case, assuming the essay-writing services are actually providing brand-new essays, no one else's work is being stolen without consent. Nevertheless, the work is being used without attribution, and the students are claiming credit for work they never did. Most essay-writing services evince little or no commitment to helping their customers understand their essay topics or hone their skills as thinkers and writers.If most institutions knew their students were using essay-writing services, they would undoubtedly subject them to disciplinary proceedings.But the use of such services can be difficult to detect, unless the instructor makes the effort to compare the content and quality of each essay with other work the student has submitted over the course of a semester.It is well known that many actors, athletes, politicians, and businesspeople have contracted with uncredited ghostwriters to produce their memoirs for them. At the same time, higher education has been transformed into an industry, another sphere of economic activity where goods and services are bought and sold.By this logic, a student who pays a fair market price for it has earned whatever grade it brings.In substance, it did a superb job of analyzing the text and offered a number of trenchant insights. There was only one problem: It markedly exceeded the quality of any other assignment the student had submitted all semester. She used several plagiarism-detection programs to determine if the student had cut and pasted text from another source, but each of these searches turned up nothing. She asked him point blank, "Did you write this, or did someone else write it for you? He had purchased the custom-written paper from an online essay-writing service.The teacher believed this conduct represented a serious breach of academic ethics.