Custom essay writing websites: ever justified?
29th August 2012
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Over the past few years, custom essay writing websites have become a hotly debated topic in the world of academia. There are now numerous websites offering to create tailor-made essays for any student with the means to pay. Offered as model answers or research aids, they promise to ease students’ workload by providing a valuable source of references – but they are faced with strong opposition from universities. Plagiarism is a major issue for universities, and in the past students have been caught attempting to cheat on assignments by handing in an essay they have bought as their own work. For those that can afford it, the opportunity to buy a bespoke essay rather than spending several consecutive all-nighters poring over textbooks may seem an attractive option. Although most companies are adamant that the essays they provide are not intended to be used in this way, it appears that there is often an implicit understanding that cheating does occur. Essay Writer, which the Sunday Times called Britain’s biggest online provider of custom essays and dissertations, makes it clear that the company will not be held accountable for how its essays are used. In a list of FAQs, it states that “Essay Writer will not be held liable for your choice of action with regards to the written essay you purchased from us.” Despite the assertion that their essays are not intended to be used in place of students’ own work, this statement seems to imply recognition of the fact that they sometimes are. Academics have criticised services such as this because by providing a fully confidential, ‘plagiarism-free’ service, they enable dishonest students to cheat. When TNS contacted Essay Writer to ask about this, they declined to comment. These services do not come cheap. A 3000-word, 2:1 standard essay from essaywriter.co.uk would set an undergraduate back £362, rising to £1088 for 11am next-day delivery. Despite this, thousands of students are parting with their cash every year in order to guarantee a good grade, believing that it will eliminate the stress and risk factor of relying on their own abilities. In reality, however, purchasing an essay online is far from risk-free. Students who use even part of an essay that they have bought in their own work can easily be found guilty of plagiarism, thanks to ever-more stringent measures to prevent cheating. Most universities now use anti-plagiarism software such as Turnitin, and tutors who are familiar with their students’ style of writing are able to pick up on differences in the tone of their writing. One student at the University of Leeds said that she was tempted to cheat using a bespoke essay-writing service for her end-of-year essay assignment She said: “Final year is so stressful and I was worried about whether I’d get a 2:1. I knew that if I said I just wanted the essay as a model answer they would write it for me and I started to wonder if it might be worth paying just so that I knew I’d be guaranteed a good grade.”
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