Monday, November 15, 2010

The Shadow Scholar

This article is making the rounds of the education (and other) blogs:

In the past year, I've written roughly 5,000 pages of scholarly literature, most on very tight deadlines. But you won't find my name on a single paper.

I've written toward a master's degree in cognitive psychology, a Ph.D. in sociology, and a handful of postgraduate credits in international diplomacy. I've worked on bachelor's degrees in hospitality, business administration, and accounting. I've written for courses in history, cinema, labor relations, pharmacology, theology, sports management, maritime security, airline services, sustainability, municipal budgeting, marketing, philosophy, ethics, Eastern religion, postmodern architecture, anthropology, literature, and public administration. I've attended three dozen online universities. I've completed 12 graduate theses of 50 pages or more. All for someone else.

You've never heard of me, but there's a good chance that you've read some of my work. I'm a hired gun, a doctor of everything, an academic mercenary. My customers are your students. I promise you that. Somebody in your classroom uses a service that you can't detect, that you can't defend against, that you may not even know exists.

I work at an online company that generates tens of thousands of dollars a month by creating original essays based on specific instructions provided by cheating students. I've worked there full time since 2004. On any day of the academic year, I am working on upward of 20 assignments.

It's as well-written and entertaining as it is terrifying.


PeggyU said...

I'm ashamed to admit, I've considered doing that myself, but for undergraduates. I don't have as well rounded a background as this person,though.

Ellen K said...

This doesn't surprise me one bit. Students don't generally seek depth of information, but would rather use Wikipedia or the first three entries on Google even if they don't apply. I can't tell you the number of plagiarized entries I have read from students who do not have the experience nor the vocabulary to write these things. What is worse, it is not just marginal students resorting to this, but sometimes the best and brightest who would rather settle for passing and devote their time to other activities.

Anonymous said...

Pish and tosh. All it does is prepare these children of privilege for the real world, where all they have to do is snap their fingers at 5PM on a Friday to have their subordinates write up an analysis to be delivered at 9AM on Monday, to which they attach their name and pass it up to their boss, receiving great praise and a great raise.

Happened to me several times. My boss was a "systems architect" who couldn't install a driver to save his life, but was very adept at claiming the work of others as his own. He's now a high poobah in government IT security. Me, I'm busy learning Arabic.

KauaiMark said...

I get emails from these "professionals" also:

mmazenko said...

In class essays and help a great deal.

Cheating is nothing new with these kids. Ads for research papers and essays were in the back of Rolling Stone for as long as I've been alive. And I've received numerous emails from companies offering this type of work.

If teachers carefully craft their assignments, it's easier to avoid. For example, there are countless papers on themes of The Great Gatsby. However, there aren't many available online that answer "How does Fitzgerald use language in the opening passage of Chapter 2 to convey his attitude toward the guests at the party."

pseudotsuga said...

I was most impressed (depressed?) by the demographics of those who buy his services. Surely it is a mere credential rather than actual education that is the product these people are buying.

SentWest said...

If I was brighter (or less ethical) I could have generated some substantial income in college writing these. Due to a stringent AP English teacher in high school, I was a veritable master of the 3am essay. I was a physics major however, a field where cheating is all but impossible.