On Campus

Combating online essay mills

Some professors are fed up with plagiarism and cutting out-of-class writing altogether

George Leef of the Pope Center for Higher Education Policy writes on combating the popularity of online term paper mills:

What can professors do to combat this new kind of cheating?

One thing is to try scaring the students into doing their own work with threats of serious penalties if they are caught submitting a paper that someone else has written for them. That won’t deter everyone.

Better still is for the professor to demand a draft from the student along with evidence that he has done some research. That too could be paid for, but if the professor also insists on a short conference to discuss the student’s progress, the student’s inability to talk about the work submitted would be telltale.

A still more radical solution is that of Professor Thomas Bertonneau, author of a Pope Center series on the problems of dealing with students who can’t or won’t read. Professor Bertonneau informs me that he no longer assigns written work to be done out of class. “I got sick of all the plagiarism, which is rampant, as is the student cynicism that drives it,” he says. His approach really cuts the Gordian Knot. Students can’t purchase or plagiarize an essay they have to write in class.

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