Monday, April 08, 2019

€8 a page - the price of cheating

News in today's Guardian that "US essay mill firm targets new students through WhatsApp" does not really surprise me - I'm sure essay mills have many clever ways to attract the attention of students who choose not to write their own essays. What does surprise me is the price, it is £7 per page (just over €8). I had never known the cost as I obviously have no interest in getting this done.

So - what would an essay with a guide of 2,000 words cost? According to the Howard Community College Library web page: 

For a page with 1 inch margins, 12 point Times New Roman font, and minimal spacing elements, a good rule of thumb is 500 words for a single spaced page and 250 words for a double spaced page.

A 2,000 word essay would therefore cost about £28 (€32.56) - very cheap. No wonder students are tempted. While most assignments will get several week's notice of the submission date, it is not uncommon for students to delay starting their assignment until the last moment. For the price of 5 or 6 pints they can get an essay mill to do the work instead. I don't know if any of my students over the past 17 years have used essay mill services - I certainly have never caught anyone doing it, nor have I ever even had the slightest suspicion. Either these services are very good, or none of my students cheated - I prefer to think that the latter is true!

Essay Mills is one of these services who claim to be "unique" and who promise to provide "only 100% plagiarism free essay papers". It seems to me that one of the tactics they use is word spinning (where software can swap words of similar meaning to beat plagiarism) - here's some examples of sentences from their Essay page: 

We comprehend that in the current era of innovations; customers desire to get access to the rendered services from anywhere.

No matter you are in class or at playground, you can access our services from anywhere.

Even if you have one percent doubt that the assignment writing service which is taking your hard earned money from you would not work with a faithful approach, you should seek other alternatives.

Nobody writes naturally like this. While I have detected word spinning before, any sign of weird sentence construction, as in the above three examples, would immediately raise my suspicions.

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