Thursday, September 20, 2012

How to spend a fortune and not learn anything

I've noticed that much of the most recent comment spam arriving here (and nicely caught by Blogger's spam filter) is from sites that sell research papers and other shortcuts of very dubious ethical value to lazy students. All of it seems tailored to the American market.

I've also noticed (teaching online at DU), that the use of paid-for essays, plagiarism and such must be on the rise: until last year, for example, students were only required to subscribe to the university's ethical policy. Now not only they have to do that, but their papers also are scanned using a software program that flags suspected plagiarism.

So: these students are paying for university (normally, paying a lot: university is expensive here), then they pay extra for someone to do their homework for them. Don't they realize that this way they are short-charging themselves, and that this way they will not really learn from what university has to offer?

P.S. This is not aimed at my students: I know they are doing their best in my classes - it's just a general comment prompted by too many spam comments purporting to sell "cheap essays".


  1. And I thought this only happened here in Brazil...

  2. It's really sad. And it also tells a lot about our age. People are just looking for the fast way to earn a lot without actually caring about building a solid professional expertise. Cheating can also have a serious backlash, however. Just look at that one young german politician who was well on his way to become the next prime minister until it was discovered that his PhD was a plagiate, which destroyed his political career.

  3. Our age, Marek? This sort of thing went on often enough in generations before ours.

  4. Pretty sad indeed! The idea is to learn something, after all. My students at UC San Diego's Intro to Translation class (online as well) don't have to write any papers, but if I ever assign papers, I will be sure to investigate software that scans for plagiarism.

  5. I think I can sense when something has been plagiarized, especially from students I have come to know. It's usually glaringly obvious. Personally I would not invest in software to scan for plagiarism. It's almost the same thing; is it not the professor's job to judge the work? You can say you do not have enough time, but isn't that the student's excuse as well?


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