Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Plagiarism, Spam, and Essay Writing Services

My post yesterday, What punishment for plagiarism?, has already attracted its first spam comment from the so-called "UK Essay Writing Services". 

Graphic from Practicalseo.
Since I started to use the anti-spam measures (such as Moderation) that Blogger provides for comments, the number of comments on my blog has been greatly reduced, but occasionally spam such as the latest comment gets through. I will not publish this comment, though if you Google "UK Essay Writing Service" you will see for yourself what is available.

For £119.50 you can get a ten page "top-class essay exactly based on your specifications and requirements" which is "100% customised and non-plagiarised". The service assures you that this essay will attract a "Guaranteed 2:1 Standard". For £30 extra they will even guarantee you a First! Easy? Of course there are many other "services" available on-line that write essays for students, and some students think that we Lecturers don't know about them. 

My message? If you are thinking of using one of these "services" - don't do it!

First, you have to provide some detail to the "service" about what you essay needs to be about - why not put this effort into your own work. If a service offers (as my spammer does) "high quality writing and meticulous referencing (both in-text referencing and bibliography)" - beware. This may be of a much higher standard that any other essay that you have submitted and that will arouse suspicion. Will you be able to get your hands on all the bibliography cited in "your essay"? Will you read any of the papers and work of others? Will you be able to answer any questions from your Lecturer about your essay? We do have the right to ask you to attend a viva where you might be asked to discuss the topic and defend your citations. Can you be sure that "your essay" will really beat anti-plagiarism software like Turnitin?

All a service like this proves is that you've got money and can afford to cheat better than someone else who goes to Wikipedia for their "essay". You might think you are clever, but this is not something that you can put on your CV, and you can't cheat your way through the rest of your life. In the future, would you hire someone  who cheated on their essay in College?

As this post also mentions the word "plagiarism", it will almost certainly attract more spam which I will not publish either.


  1. I find it amusing that your entire treatise on why out-sourced essay writing should be avoided is based upon two points: its "wrong" and they'll produce a higher caliber of content than the student is likely to.

    What does it say about NCI if spammers can out perform its students?

  2. Hi Solarnexus (Sean?),

    Thanks for reading the blog post and commenting.

    In my defense...

    A short blog post is not an "entire treatise" - I have much experience and opinion on this subject. Plagiarism is "wrong" - full stop, it is not just me who says this. I don't suggest that an essay should be outsourced just because "they'll produce a higher caliber of content than the student is likely to" - they make that claim (even guaranteeing grades!), not me.

    I think it actually says a lot for the academic integrity of NCI "if spammers can out perform its students". Can you imagine if an entire class bought their essays and all got Firsts?