Academic plagiarism is no longer just sloppy “cut and paste” jobs or students cribbing large chunks of an assignment from a friend’s earlier essay on the same topic. These days, students can simply visit any of a number of paper or essay mills that litter the internet and buy a completed assignment to present as their own.
These shadowy businesses are not going away anytime soon. Paper mills can’t be easily policed or shut down by legislation. And there’s a trickier issue at play here: they provide a service that an alarming number of students will happily use.
Managing this newest form of academic deceit will require hard work from established academia and a renewed commitment to integrity from university communities.
In November 2010, the Chronicle of Higher Education published an article that rocked the academic world. Its anonymous author confessed to having written more than 5 000 pages of scholarly work a year on behalf of university students. Ethics was among the many issues this author had tackled for clients.
The practice continues five years on. At a conference about plagiarism held in the Czech Republic in June 2015, one speaker revealed that up to 22% of students in some Australian undergraduate programmes had admitted to buying or intending to buy assignments on the internet.
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