Plagiarism and academic fraud in Universities is an ever increasing problem. Universities have invested in the latest plagiarism detection software as well as employing new methods of submission, like Nottingham’s own “turnitin” system, to try and combat the issue, and to some extent they have had some success: Figures reported on the Impact website in January showed that more students were being caught submitting plagiarised work than ever. The question is how adaptable current detection methods are cheating tactics.

For example, the anti plagiarism software used in many of the country’s universities does little to combat the notorious “essay mills” which have undergone huge development and growth recently. Essay mills such as Nottingham-based UKEssays.com provide individuals to ghost write specific tailor made essays and dissertations for a fee. These essays are original in content and – UKEssays claim – undetectable by the software used by universities. UKEssays goes even further in suggesting that it can offer essays for different standards of grades, from 2:1’s to a 1st, all of which vary in cost. A 10,000 word undergraduate 2:1 dissertation would set you back £1,200, while a Masters Distinction dissertation would cost you £8,000.

Claiming to have over “4,000 qualified academics” at their disposal, UKEssays pledge to refund the price if a grade is not met (although this might seem a little late for the unfortunate student), and are capable of turning around a 2500 word essay in the space of 3 hours for when students get ‘the fear’.

For obvious reasons, such services are widely viewed as in the academic world as cheating aids and are seen as unethical and damaging to the academic system. UKEssays claim in retaliation that they are only resources for students to use and not for them to hand in as completed work. “ It is no different from using journals, newspaper articles, question-and-answer study books”, they argue.

The rise of these ‘essay mills’ further calls in to question the standards and quality of Universities and University Graduates. Although obviously the majority of students do not use such services to get through university, the fact that their popularity is growing with the expanded use of companies like UKEssays highlights that this is a vitally important issue for Universities to deal with.

Daniel Gadher

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2 Comments

  1. Giselle
    August 3, 2010 at 22:56 — Reply

    Perhaps univsersities have taken it too far with their spywear kits. It’s like academic Big Brother. Next there will be video cameras in the library cubicals!

  2. Philip Whitehead
    September 24, 2010 at 15:30 — Reply

    Of course, these “essay mills” will claim that the essays they provide are not intended for submission, but for ‘educational’ purposes only – much like a tutor might provide a class with a “model” exam answer. Who do they think they’re kidding? The graduates who run these sites must know what really happens to their output and are thus complicit in plagiarism. I’d hope that any Nottingham graduate would be principled enough to refuse to work as an essay ghost-writer, or failing that, refuse on the purely self-interested ground of wishing to preserve the perceived value of their own degree.

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