Kimbel Library: Presentations
Cheating 101: Paper Mills and YouTeaching Effectiveness Seminar
Coastal Carolina University, March 5, 1999
(Revised March 10, 2003)
Welcome to "Cheating 101: Paper Mills and You", this is an abbreviated version of the presentation given by Margaret Fain and Peggy Bates as part of the Teaching Effectiveness Seminars held at Coastal Carolina University.
This presentation is aimed at providing faculty with an overview of the current state of Internet Paper Mills, how to locate Paper Mills, how to detect plagiarized papers, how to track down suspicious papers, and how to combat plagiarism.
Cheating in school "has been around as long as organized education" (Chidley). So have term paper mills. Today however, with the rise of Internet paper mills, we see a new twist in the term paper industry. No longer relegated to back alleys of college campuses and discreetly whispered about, the term paper industry is flourishing, prosperous, and reaching a much larger and much younger audience.
Current State of CheatingFor lots of students, lofty ideas about honesty and integrity have very little to do with the "real" world or why they are going to college.
Another part of the problem is faculty reluctance to report plagiarism to university authorities when it occurs. This reluctance is seen in the preference for handling suspected plagiarism privately between faculty and student, as a counseling matter or not at all. Some faculty feel that they are in the business of teaching specific subject matter, not discipline or moral values.
Circumstances in universities today, with administrations pushing student retention, litigatious students, students threatening physical harm, is not conducive to "going out on a limb" to prosecute plagiarism. Then there is always the fear of "sticking your neck out" to prosecute and having the administration or trustees not only dismiss your allegations of plagiarism as insignificant but damage your career in the process. In the last few months, there has been a series of articles in "The Chronicle of Higher Education" about this very subject.
Current State of Internet Paper Sites
Term Paper Mills have been available on the Internet since 1996 and have already gone global. We call them paper mills because despite their rhetoric, these sites are in the business of providing pre-written research papers. Most sites contain disclaimers telling potential buyers not to submit these papers for a grade, but students can and do turn in these papers as their own.
Our list of Internet Term Paper Sites includes over 250 sites that were active as of December 2004. The list of Subject Specific Term Paper Sites contains an additional 71 sites.
How much does it cost to get a paper?
Using the list "Detecting Plagiarized Papers" can help professors identify some of the common giveaways of plagiarized papers. Some professors also ask students, as part of the final exam, to summarize the main points of their research paper. In addition, services have sprung up that offer to detect Internet plagiarism for a fee, "Plagiarism Detection Sites".
Tracking Down Plagiarized Papers
Professors may be able to locate the original paper on the Internet using a variety of techniques.
In most instances it is easier to combat Plagiarism from the outset of the class than it is to deal with it later in the semester. Using term paper mills is a "crime of opportunity". Students faced with deadlines and a sense of being overwhelmed may turn to term paper mills. Students who have been guided in the research process and encouraged to think about the paper have less motive and less opportunity to turn in work that is not their own.
Easy Steps to Combat Plagiarism outlines some basic techniques and issues that professors can use in any class to lessen the opportunities for plagiarism. Research papers or projects that are designed as an integral part of the course offer students a greater opportunity to learn. Well thought out assignments are less conducive to plagiarism. In addition, students learn quickly which professors expect them to work and which don't.
Term Paper Mills are a fact of life. How we as faculty and teachers and librarians deal with them is up to us.
Internet Paper Mills
Internet Subject Specific Paper Mills
Detecting Plagiarized Papers
Easy Steps to Combatting Plagiarism
Plagiarism Detection Sites
Other Plagiarism Sites
About the Authors:
Margaret Fain is the Head of Public Services, and Peggy Bates is the Assistant Head of Public Services at Kimbel Library, Coastal Carolina University, Conway, SC. The authors can be contacted at (843) 349-2410. The impetus for this presentation came from comments made to us by faculty and students regarding the availability and use of term paper sites.
Date Last Modified: Mar 23, 2009
Page URL: http://www.coastal.edu