Cheating goes global

DebSF -- March 24th, 2009

The Chronicle of Education has an interesting piece this week on the internationalization of essay mills, looking inside one company, tracking its orders, examining its records, and contacting its customers. The company (known as Essay Writers), sells  custom essays matching the precises specification of it’s customers.  These papers, unlike those purchased from online databases, are invisible to plagiarism-detection software.  The piece includes a couple of intriguing quotes from a current JMU student.

Mickey Tomar paid Essay Writers $100 to research and write a paper on the parables of Jesus Christ for his New Testament class. Mr. Tomar, a senior at James Madison University majoring in philosophy and religion, defends the idea of paying someone else to do your academic work, comparing it to companies that outsource labor. “Like most people in college, you don’t have time to do research on some of these things,” he says. “I was hoping to find a guy to do some good quality writing.”

And continues a little later on, after some discussion on the variability of the quality of the products purchased from these businesses with the following:

Mr. Tomar, the philosophy-and-religion major who bought a paper for his New Testament class, still doesn’t think students should have to do their own research. But he has soured on essay mills after the paper he received from Essay Writers did not meet his expectations. He complained, and the company gave him a 30-percent refund. As a result, he had an epiphany of sorts. Says Mr. Tomar: “I was like — you know what? — I’m going to write this paper on my own.”

21 Responses to “Cheating goes global”

  1. Paul says:

    Sounds like money well spent – he gained some valuable knowledge for $70. :\

  2. Renee says:

    He must’ve read the 4-hour work week. Outsourcing school work would make sense except you are paying for school so you can learn something… and having someone else do your learning doesn’t give you much bang for your tuition buck.

    America would be much better off if everyone realized that school is not a job. If it were, they would be paying you. It always motivates me to see children in 3rd world countries who would do anything to be able to go to school!

  3. Zach says:

    It’s a philosophy-and-religion major, I mean it was either this or he works at uh.. well I don’t know, Wendy’s isn’t hiring.

  4. Bubby says:

    I read the Breeze at lunch today, the writing composition, sentence structure, style and vocabulary all show signs of underdeveloped writing skills. Hard to believe that it is a University newspaper.

  5. Outsourcing your schoolwork is like outsourcing your food intake…if you think the goal is getting the grade (or getting the bill for the food rather than actually eating it), you’re doing it wrong.

  6. Breslau says:

    I hope he gets bounced from the university. I really do. He’s not learning anything. Like Renee said, there are people in other parts of the world who would do anything to go to school (especially to a university). To think that Tomar got a slot as a JMU student instead of an applicant who’d do anything to go (or perhaps one who is simply more ambitious, intelligent, or just more scrupulous) is just sickening and nearly depressing. Hopefully, the university heads will realize that the school will look incredibly bad if it doesn’t bounce him, causing them to do so.

  7. Breslau says:

    Don’t get me wrong; he shouldn’t be kicked out because he makes the university look bad. He should be kicked out because he’s flagrantly committing plagiarism. I just meant that they’ll realize that inaction will make them look terrible, causing them to subsequently take action.

  8. Renee says:

    I find it interesting that he would talk about cheating in an interview that way. It really is grounds for expulsion, as Breslau says.

  9. JGFitzgerald says:

    Renee,

    Probably not. There’s no proof that he actually turned in the paper, and the quote seems to indicate he wants a prize for not doing so. The news is that he thinks it’s news that he’s going to write the thing himself.

  10. seth says:

    our academic culture really is broken.
    for so many kids majoring in the humanities, getting your degree really does take precedence over what you actually learn. at some point, we’re going to realize that a bachelor’s (or in my mind, some master’s) degree(s) doesn’t (don’t) imply the same level of capability that it (they) once did.

    as to the kid getting expelled, i could be wrong, but i don’t think he’s done anything to warrant that (even if he did hand in the plagiarized paper). if you’d like to familiarize yourself w/ jmu’s rules on such things, this is a good place to start:
    http://www.jmu.edu/honor/code.shtml
    there are some other va universities that would take such a violation much more seriously, but as i’m not a huge fan of some of the discrepancies in implementation, i’d stop short of labelling one or the other system better or worse.

    all that being said, this kid is an idiot. he better hope his dad can get him a job.

  11. Bubby says:

    From the article:

    A handful of states, including Virginia, have laws on the books making it a misdemeanor to sell college essays…

    Seems like that would make the recipient a co-conspirator to a crime.

  12. seth says:

    i always wondered about the culpability of the writer. i have a feeling that most people are probably intelligent enough to put the appropriate disclaimer in the mix though. something like ‘this work is to be used as a guide and not to be represented in whole or any part thereof as the recipient’s original work.’

    at any rate, it strikes me as pretty ridiculous that the state government would get involved in something like that where the only person who’s actually being harmed is the kid who bought the essay.

  13. Bubby says:

    Well if the cheating degenerate decides to pursue his philosophy and religion coursework to the seminary he will one day stand before a flock guiding and exhorting others with his crooked moral compass, and wayward values. Which is how we got this.

  14. seth says:

    can you make that work? i’m curious.

  15. Bubby says:

    The link is to the Westboro Baptist Church, it may be blocked by the wordpress software because instead of celebrating the teachings of Christ; their church website is godhatesfags.com

  16. seth says:

    :)
    i like what you’re doing,
    but i’m not convinced of the correlation between lack of academic integrity and craziness.

    (it reminds me of something from a vampire show i like….
    god hates fangs!
    i thought that was brilliant).

  17. Many people think that buying a term paper online is cheating but actually, if you use it as a template for your own project, it is a wise investment. You can learn a vast amount on how to do your own paper. It is narrow-minded to discount an educational avenue such as the acquisition of a custom project showing you an excellent example on how to do your own.

  18. Or this. After all, Jesus withered the fig tree.

  19. Mickey Tomar says:

    It is I- Mickey Tomar, here to respond to you’re misled beliefs on this story. First of all, it is true that I contacted an essay website, I was in a panic, and I wanted to give it a try. I never had any intention of turning in a custom written paper because that would obviously be plagiarism. I was hoping that it would spur some ideas of my own because I was having a huge mental blank. The day after I hired the service, I wrote the paper myself and ended up receiving the top 5 grade a class of 46. I realized that I do have the confidence and ability to write a good paper. Yes, I was wrong for attempting to ask someone to do my work for me, but hey I made a mistake, and I learned from it. My problem is with the reporter-Thomas Bartlett who like most reporters, never accurately record quotes. I NEVER said that it was acceptable to have someone research for you. Furthermore, I did not say I defend the idea of paid research either. This reporter took some of my words out of context and embellished it with his own words to prove his point. Talk about ethics, this reporter needs to check himself out. My professor actually refused to be included in this article because he thought the reporter had suspicious techniques for gaining and reporting information. In conclusion, I do not condone academic paid research or false statements by obnoxious reporters. I learned that reporters are like rappers- you can’t believe everything they say (they might be high on something).

  20. Thanks for weighing in on this discussion, Mickey.

  21. seth says:

    not even gonna touch that one….

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