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Allena Tapia

In Defense of Writing Term Papers for Cash

By July 26, 2010

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Haha! You thought you were coming here to tell me what-for, huh?

Well, I don't specifically advocate this particular kind of freelance writing, but it does exist. This occurs when college students hire freelance writers to write their term papers for them. The papers are passed off as the students' own original work. Tsk tsk. No, I don't do it, but it is done.

A freelance writer on the front page of Salon attempts to defend her decision to sell this kind of freelance writing. Here is my question: if her writing is good enough to land on the front page of Salon, why must she stoop to taking this crappy work? AND---***AND*** her rate is very, very low. She should at least double (if not triple) what she charges!

What do you think of writing term papers for cash?

July 26, 2010 at 6:27 pm
(1) Carla says:

I totally disagree with this idea because this is academic dishonesty. The freelance writer cannot write all of his or her paperwork so the fraud will be discovered and the student expunged. If you are that lazy of a student, don’t even apply to a university.

July 26, 2010 at 6:30 pm
(2) JR says:

Plaigiarism, pure and simple – never mind that you’re allowing someone else to plagiarize your work.

July 26, 2010 at 6:37 pm
(3) CC says:

It’s no different than any other kind of ghostwriting. The ethical responsibility is not on you as a writer but on the student who is defrauding his institution. Yes, submitting a term paper that isn’t your own is intellectually dishonest, but is it more dishonest than passing off a book as your own without crediting the writer? The only difference is expectation. Many people expect, say, celebrity memoirs to be ghostwritten (even if it’s never stated as such), where every professor expects a term paper to be the author’s own work.

Any institution or teacher worth her salt is going to spot a plagiarized paper anyway. Regardless, as a writer, it’s not your problem.

July 26, 2010 at 6:37 pm
(4) Beth Carter says:

I read the Salon article and my jaw hit the floor. That’s just crazy that she’s willing to sell her soul like that for so little. I’m a professional freelance copywriter doing quite well in today’s economy, and trust me, a $100 assignment is small potatoes. In fact the only reason I’d take on project that small would be for a client with whom I have a well-established, profitable relationship.

I understand that rates for traditional magazine/journalistic freelance writing can be horrible. But to be willing to go so low for a measly $100, with the education she professes to have, well, that’s just pitiful.

July 26, 2010 at 7:16 pm
(5) Vanessa Nix Anthony says:

Hi Allena — I am an avid reader of your posts and I have to admit you got me today. Loved your lead.

Anyway, a few months back we discussing this very issue in one of my LinkedIn writer’s groups and the discussion spilled over onto my blog http://bit.ly/biOLlP It also speaks directly (CC) to the reason why the ethic responsibility belongs to the writing community as well.

Thanks for talking about this important topic.

July 26, 2010 at 7:41 pm
(6) Vee says:

I’m with CC here.
I write, then sell with agreed terms,no problem.
The student’s morality is questionable yes, but not my problem.The need to take responsibility for themselves.
Extreme example (use any product here) vehicle manufacturers don’t get blamed for drunken driving.
Should I be at risk for doing this, I’ll stop.
For now, I’m writing and earning money. And when my novels get published, I’ll get blasted for being contraversial! Hehe.

July 26, 2010 at 8:08 pm
(7) Brenda Coxe says:

You jeopardize your integrity as a writing when you allow yourself to help a student become dishonest. I disagree with CC–I do ghostwriting, and writing term papers for students is a completely different type of writing. I don’t understand writers that do it — I figure those students can take some time away from partying and do their term papers. You couldn’t pay me enough to write an academic paper.

July 26, 2010 at 8:34 pm
(8) Angela says:

CC, saying a writer isn’t responsible for helping a student cheat is like saying a machine-gun retailer isn’t responsible for a murder victim. Wow…

July 26, 2010 at 11:46 pm
(9) Michael says:

Machine guns do not murder. People do. Trite but true. Yet, here I am on your side in this present controversy. The student isn’t just being intellectually dishonest but committing academic suicide. Maybe that’s the better example instead of a machine gun manufacturer. Helping a student do this is like assisting someone to intectually off their self. Bad form, bad outcome and bad karma.

July 26, 2010 at 11:49 pm
(10) Michael says:

Just tried to leave a comment. I guess it glitched into never ever land. The commentator who stated that line about machine gun manufacturers might want to review the law in the case that was fairly recently decided by the USSC. Manufacturers are not liable for the acts of those who buy their product. Nor should they be. Intectual dishonest, however, is another ball game altogether and should never be assisted.

July 27, 2010 at 1:26 am
(11) KF says:

I teach English composition at a local university part time and I am horrified that “professional” writers would even consider aiding and abetting plagiarism. True, professors can often catch it–but then, at my institution, the student fails the COURSE and gets reported to the dean of students for discipline, which can include expulsion. Why be a part of THAT? It is their choice, but if they didn’t have someone to write the paper for them, they couldn’t do it. Doing something like this would just make me feel dirty.

July 27, 2010 at 1:50 am
(12) Diane M. Grassi says:

It unfortunately does not stop with term papers and the high school or college levels.

There are writer/editors who have elevated this practice to doctoral theses as well, commanding big bucks for their services. This is no different, in my humble opinion, than falsifying academic transcripts or fraudently claiming earned degrees.

It is time for the academic institutions to do their due diligence, especially in doctoral programs whereby Phd’s earn these frauds teaching positions at esteemed institutions.

And with the advent of online education, this is becoming more and more troublesome.

July 27, 2010 at 3:06 am
(13) kate says:

I understand the outrage on the educational side, but I considered doing this because I like writing stuff like term papers.

My feeling on the matter is close to CC’s because it is the responsibility of the student to make use of my work in a legal and responsible manner. I’ve done the work in terms of building a ‘case’ in my writing. They can follow my breadcrumbs and re-write my work as their own and learn something, or they can cheat and lose big time.

I look on this as doing the spadework for a student and handing it off to them to handle the work responsibly. They lose if they don’t do the right thing with it. I give them a head start, but they have the job of dealing with the class and the teacher and the school. I don’t feel that it’s my moral responsibility to make the judgment for them.

July 27, 2010 at 7:15 am
(14) Miko Holt says:

Well as a doctoral student and freelance writer… writing term papers for cash is wrong and considered cheating…but truly when students do hire writers, they are cheating themselves.

July 27, 2010 at 7:29 am
(15) Miko Holt says:

My earlier response to this post about the writer was unfavorable and as a doctoral student, I was insulted. However, after reading the article, I could identify and therefore, understood where that writer was coming from. I know what it feels like to have $18 in my bank account and no clients… freelancing is difficult… would I ever write term papers..no, BUT I understood…

July 27, 2010 at 8:41 am
(16) M.L. Browne says:

Writing essays and term papers for hire is a real good way to drive your writing career straight into the ground. It’s all about subterfuge. You undervalue your work, you hide yourself, and you very likely give a completely unethical, dishonest person a chance at getting acclaim and rewards that they have done nothing to earn (other than pay a pittance).

If you enjoy writing term papers, go back to school. Get an advanced degree for yourself. Don’t let somebody else do it while riding on your back.

For writers, this is absolutely equivalent of prostitution.

July 27, 2010 at 11:54 am
(17) KK Brees says:

Character is what you do when no one is watching. Those who support this activity and then claim they’re not at fault, clearly have shown their moral character. Or lack thereof.

July 27, 2010 at 6:10 pm
(18) AL says:

I suppose I can’t say much about her choice. I was paid quite well to write a 3 page paper for a college student when I was in the 8th grade. Earned a B+ on it too. On a personal level, I find it irritating that people are cheating to earn their degrees, when I worked my butt off for mine.

July 27, 2010 at 9:55 pm
(19) Nancy says:

Totally agree with KK Brees. Writing for this market shows a complete lack of integrity.

July 28, 2010 at 3:26 am
(20) Nalinaksha says:

I don’t agree with those claiming innocence despite being an accomplice in cheating. I will hold the writer guilty overcome by greed. Only greedy people can justify this.
It is a shocking news that such practice actually exists in countries like America.

July 28, 2010 at 6:16 am
(21) Xyzzy says:

I wouldn’t figure that it’s greed, provided the person is struggling to meet survival-level expenses (rent, food) and can’t manage to get enough work to do so otherwise. However, she admitted near the end of the article that a big part of why she’s selling the term papers is so she can afford non-necessities like a top-tier cellphone plan.

Most classes in college these days grade on a curve, and in a case like this one, the reading & writing skills of regular undergrads are judged against those of a professional writer with a degree in her craft. As it would go unnoticed on even a moderately-large campus, it could bump the grade down a half-letter or more, potentially jeopardizing scholarships or chances at getting into a good graduate/medical school. Still worse, an educator can become overly suspicious and accuse an innocent student of plagiarism for changes in their writing style or similar questionable evidence, as happened to me in private as an undergrad.

August 2, 2010 at 5:33 pm
(22) Valerie Russo says:

What are your thoughts on the ethics of ghostwriting and speechwriting?

September 17, 2010 at 9:53 am
(23) Tom says:

I make more doing this than I ever did as an adjunct and I only have to deal with one baby studnet at a time. I have three kids, a mortgage and boatload of bills in a depression, so academia can kiss frankly kiss my ass.

October 12, 2010 at 3:58 pm
(24) M.L. Browne says:

I’ll tell you how to stop it, once and for all. If a writer is caught with a plagiarized paper, yes, he’s expelled, and the failing mark is permanent. AND the person who sold it to him gets a significant penalty, too–any academic credentials awarded to him or her are rescinded by the grantor institution(s), effective immediately.

No exceptions.

Is the money you might make worth the risk of losing your professional credentials? I doubt it.

As writers, we do have a responsibility to the society in which we live–and the number one responsibility is our honesty and integrity as we ply the craft. Plagiarism undermines both, period, the end.

October 12, 2010 at 10:14 pm
(25) freelancewrite says:

ML, I doubt a University would strip someone of their degree for selling an essay to someone else. The writer did not cheat nor do anything illegal. Highly highly doubtful.

November 17, 2010 at 6:12 pm
(26) jenny says:

If that student is wealthy enough to hire someone to write their papers then good for them: lesson 1 about life just learned. Why is it that students are brought to believe the world is one way when its not? That is what our world is, our country, politics, careers, its all just fake lies. this world is disgusting and having someone write your term papers for you is real life, get over it. if the educational system would catch up to times we wouldn’t have to sit around wondering silly things like whether this is ok or not.
people will do it, they shouldn’tgigs-9rgmd-2065546617@craigslist.org be punished, they should be rewarded just like in the real world.

August 10, 2011 at 6:50 am
(27) JW says:

While I understand where one might come from on an academic level, I still have to disagree that the writer is the problem here.

Being a writer myself, I don’t care where my work comes from or what they use it for – as long as my part is legal. Writing papers falls into something the Internet Gurus like to call “blackhat” – unethical, but still legal.

I’m a starving college student myself, and I need the money. And it may be the lowest of the low, literary prostitution, but many, many people line up to be the first into the strip club or henhouse.

I would dearly love to be a writer for a major magazine, but the reality is that I never will be. So I’m not terribly worried about nosediving my writing career. Funny thing is – the job industry is so whacked out right now, that I wouldn’t even have a writing job were it not for college students who intend to cheat.

September 24, 2011 at 11:46 am
(28) freelancewrite says:

that’s sad but I understand it. my mortgage and children’s tummies will always come first.

December 7, 2011 at 3:33 pm
(29) LemmyTay says:

M.L, Browne, take a minute, get off your pretentious high horse and take the corn cob out of your ass. What credentials do you have to make such bold statements? We are all waiting.

October 22, 2012 at 1:17 pm
(30) Rhona Mitra says:

I make fairly good money writing for a major academic writing service.

I do feel sorry for some of the students-I have done entire courses for working people getting tuition reimbursement. I think they’d be in deep foo doo if this got out.

But it is fun and easy. Google and Amazon do the research for you.

But pure gold is when you get the same assignment multiple times. Write it once well, then do rewrites.

April 24, 2013 at 3:51 pm
(31) Kate says:

I am in Grad school right now, and during my undergrad I would write papers for people. I still do sometimes for people in their undergrad. I usually charge $20 a page, and guarantee an A. It is all my original work, I do all of the research and enjoy writing and learning new things in the process. Some may see it as being morally wrong, but I don’t because I am just expanding my knowledge and the other person is paying for a service. Its not like the person is going to win a prize for my writing. Sometimes things happen and students cant keep up. In my last week of undergrad I hat 10 upper level History papers due, and there was no way I could have completed all of them without help, and I am an excellent writer. Sometimes international students who don’t speak english very well ask me to write a paper for them, because they need a good grade to pass a class that they are required to take. Some professors have very high expectations of their students ability to write, that at times cannot be met. I am not saying that people should “outsource” every single research paper they have but from what I have seen, most students only do this in extreme circumstances. I never would write for students in my own university, to make sure I wouldn’t get in any trouble with the school. I usually write for students in Community colleges, and some in other Universities. On extremely rare occasions I will write for a friend at my uni. Like I said, in most cases that I have seen, students primarily ask for me to write a paper in extreme circumstances. and btw $100 is nothing, most paper I write are at least 10 pages and usually yield anywhere from $200 to $300 I even wrote a 20 page paper for someone once haha, and I am not even a writer, just someone who loves doing it, and loves reading and researching just because it makes me a smarter and more well rounded individual.

July 6, 2013 at 8:23 am
(32) Jango Davis says:

There’s is no justification for aiding and abetting another person’s academic dishonesty. Writers who do this are nothing more than prostitutes, and should be regarded as such.

July 15, 2013 at 12:42 pm
(33) freelancewrite says:

I guess that’s one opinion of it!

November 11, 2013 at 3:19 am
(34) Lyla says:

Yes, it’s unethical, probably, but so is prostitution, charging high taxes, polluting the environment, which we all have a part in. Eating well when the rest of the world is starving, ripping off third world labour and so on. It’s all immoral….but for some reason everyone keeps doing it? Why should some of us starve while the rest of you say, ‘Oh you shouldn’t be doing that for a living, It’s unethical.’ Where’s your ethics when it comes to sharing the wealth with those less fortunate? Do you?

November 12, 2013 at 10:04 am
(35) freelancewrite says:

VERY interesting point Lyla.

December 4, 2013 at 12:15 pm
(36) freelancewrite says:

Lyla, I do see your point. I do feel we live in quite a moralistic society here in the US and that A LOT of that is misplaced or exaggerated “offense.” I tell you what, if it comes to a matter of my kids eating and a roof over their head, then so be it. And I do wonder- those rich students (or, with rich parents) who routinely offer me 400-500 for a term paper “tomorrow”- are they going to graduate and look back and give a hand up to anyone else, or are they just going to go on into the world, enjoy the degree their parents purchased them, their parent’s and school’s connections, and get a plum job that is built on other people’s backs? I don’t know. I’m kind of shrugging here.

November 26, 2013 at 11:53 pm
(37) Carrie says:

I agree with Lyla. Why is it okay for bankers and credit agencies and derivatives brokers to get away with ripping off people and stripping $7 billion from our economy, and then getting bailed out on taxpayer money, by making risky investments and lying about credit ratings, but you write someone else’s term paper for money and suddenly you are the biggest scum of the earth and should have your credentials stripped away? I mean really. How messed up IS our values system?

December 4, 2013 at 12:16 pm
(38) freelancewrite says:

Yup, Carrie, we are a really moralistic society I’ve noticed, but a lot of that outrage is misplaced and I’ve seen fingers DEFINITELY pointing in the wrong direction.

May 6, 2014 at 8:26 pm
(39) Chuck says:

Well boys and girls, there is one exception. For the Post Grad student who uses this service to kick start their research.

Yeah, I agree that its a lazy way but how about this. A person needs to do a 10-15 page research paper. That person hires a service to prodce 3 pages, with references. The three pages are used – “not copied” to put together an original 10-15 page research paper.

If used in this manner, the cheat is the initial preparation, right?

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