This Week's Message
Lying, Cheating, and Plagiarism...Oh MY!
No, this brief post is not about Oz. Rather it is about what happens across academia even back in Kansas and Illinois. There are, unfortunately, many wizards manipulating words behind the curtains of the custom-essay companies. Regrettably, their expensive, custom-crafted papers may be coming across our desks more often than we realize.
"The Shadow Scholar," published in The Chronicle Review on Friday, November 12, has generated more comments than "any in recent memory." (As of Sunday evening (11/21) there were 510 comments). The flourishing debate prompted The Chronicle to host a live chat with the author this past Wednesday. I was asked to introduce you to this wide-reaching national conversation with hope that we might consider the author's assertions in the context of our institution and our local academic culture.
Briefly, this article, written by a paid ghost writer of academic papers of all sorts from high school through (believe it or not) doctoral dissertations, explains how students are able to contract with companies to secure assignment-specific papers. In fact, for a rather lavish price, the ghost writer will submit proposals and multiple drafts so that even professors who engage in "process writing" can be duped. Since the papers are unique and come with accurate citations, it is very difficult to detect this form of cheating.
I found the article to be a disturbing, yet fascinating, read. Several of us have read and informally chatted about this article. The author's premise is that we, the faculty and our institutions with our over-emphasis on grades rather than learning, bear much of the blame for this rampant cheating. I hope you will be compelled to read the article "The Shadow Scholar." You may also wish to read the comments which follow it and/or the transcript of last Wednesday's Live Chat with an Academic Mercenary.
Professor, Education Department