The Shadow Scholar

The author of The Shadow Scholar makes a living writing custom papers for college students, from admissions essays to graduate theses. He makes more money than most of the professors who assign the work.
You've never heard of me, but there's a good chance that you've read some of my work. I'm a hired gun, a doctor of everything, an academic mercenary. My customers are your students. I promise you that. Somebody in your classroom uses a service that you can't detect, that you can't defend against, that you may not even know exists.

I work at an online company that generates tens of thousands of dollars a month by creating original essays based on specific instructions provided by cheating students. I've worked there full time since 2004. On any day of the academic year, I am working on upward of 20 assignments.

In the midst of this great recession, business is booming. At busy times, during midterms and finals, my company's staff of roughly 50 writers is not large enough to satisfy the demands of students who will pay for our work and claim it as their own.

It's not plagiarism, as each paper is paid for and written to specifications with the understanding that the author will receive no writing credit. But the student does none of the work to produce the paper. There's a serious discussion at Metafilter on whether this activity is wrong or not. I was surprised that there was any question as to the ethics of hiring someone to do your college work, but I graduated over 30 years ago, and the world has changed a lot since then. What you do think? Is this cheating or just another path to your goal? Link -via Metafilter

(Image credit: Jonathan Barkat for The Chronicle Review)

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To to person who asked if pre-med students do this...cheating is nothing new. It's apparently much easier, even with professors that require students to submit papters to websites that check for plagarism.

Yes, and it was going on 30 years ago. I told my housemate, who was writing a paper for a pal, that I would turn him in if he didn't stop. He went to med school, but I never followed up on his buddy.
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Plagiarism is claiming credit for work that you did not do. It doesn't matter if the other is fine with not receiving credit; it isn't your work. If it isn't your work then what's the point of going to college?

I worked hard for the degree I have and am continuing to do so for my next degree. For anyone who argues that this is not cheating, stop and think: would you honestly want someone treating you for a medical condition; working your case; advising you on investments; or even teaching your children who didn't actually EARN their degree? The reason for papers, no matter how dumb and pointless, is to learn from them. If you don't do them, you don't learn; if you don't learn, you can't teach.

Ridiculous.
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Hmmm.

Why advertise it like this now? You have a successful business, making thousands of dollars per month, and you feel the need to go more public with it? Maybe those essay-writers aren't as smart as they want to appear. I would just keep my mouth shut and rake in the cash.

Sounds to me like he/she is trying to drum up business with this.
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Nobody told me; I looked it up.

Dictionaries use the word "unauthorized" or "stolen", meaning the user does not have the author's permission to use the writing.
http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/plagiarism
http://mw1.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/plagiarize

However, I see now that Universities define it as using someone else's work, whether authorized or not, which means cheating.
http://www.unc.edu/depts/wcweb/handouts/plagiarism.html
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