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back to article Google pulls essay adverts

From next month, ads selling essay writing services will join those punting prostitution or tobacco on Google's list of proscribed activities across its global network, the BBC reports. The search monolith has responded to "claims that plagiarism is threatening the integrity of university degrees" and "complaints from …

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A simple solution

If the essay companies believe their claim that their material is not used by students to cheat then why not simply give access to this custom written material to the companies that write plagiarism detection software? This way anyone who has a genuine need to buy an essay can continue to do so and cheats will find it more difficult to prosper.

If there is anyone out there who is actually in genuine need of essays though? If there is then this is surely a very poor comment on the quality of university education. It would seem reasonable to believe that they should be provided with adequate teaching resources and support by their college/faculty?

Or of course if the companies don't believe their own claim they can continue to protest about their treatment by Google.

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Of course there is the legitimate essay writing business out there...

Can someone please give me an example of a scenario where this would be legitimate...... I'm struggling!

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Solution is easy

The solution is easy, any time an "example" essay is given, it is made available to a clearing house that the Universities use to ensure that the "example" is not submitted by a student. If the companies balk at the idea, then clearly they intend for the student to use it as their own work.

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Anonymous Coward

Mixed media

I have bought a few inches, perhaps feet, of essays in my day--Montaigne, Arnold, Tate, various anthologies--but none of them were bespoke. I have been trying to think of reasons one might want to buy an essay of one's own. Perhaps for one's jet-lagged, viagra-dosed hamster to read?

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A tacit admission

Wilson concluded by noting the ban would not prevent Google from generating links to "rogue essay selling companies, which have been accused of scamming customers by providing poor quality material"

So basically he's admitting that his customers are using his "quality" for the same purposes that the poor quality material is used for.

That's like the internet pharmacies selling oxycontin and then saying "but I didn't know people would use them to get high"

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Back to School?

Didn't Rodney Dangerfield hire Kurt Vonnegut Jr. to write his essays for him in "Back to School"? (I think he got a "D" on it in the movie...)

So, this removes the essay writing adverts from Google: does it remove their search results as well? If so, I guess I'll have to use Internet Exploder and MSN from now on...

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Anonymous Coward

hmmm...

I know first hand that these things are not cheap and its not an easy way to cheat for the majority of our cash strapped students who are crippling themselves with debt.

Without having paid for one of these I am 100% certain that my family member would not have passed, and the whole reason for purchasing it in the first place was entirely down to the university not doing its job. Not matter how many complaints were made, without going down this route the qualification would not have been attained.

I will just add that the dissertation submitted bore very little resemblance to the one purchased (the condition on forking out the cash).

Whilst I agree that some students with money to burn (and how few are these?) may do it just to cheat and thereby devalue the system, what percentage of the sales are actually desperate students with no where to turn and why is the university system failing them?

2 sides to every story after all......

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Anonymous Coward

legitimate uses for an essay

"Can someone please give me an example of a scenario where this would be legitimate"

Say for instance you were a faculty member who needed to publish or perish...

Student plageurism is only one of the problems threatening the university system, another being the professors themselves stealing works from lesser-known journals, ripping off their grad students' disserations, and slicing a single piece of research into half-a-dozen papers. I can cite examples of each of these reprehensible behaviors that has affected me or industry colleagues of mine. Actually the first two of these happened to just one colleague.

So what actually happens if the university system is destroyed? I mean, besides some professors losing their ability to maintain their careers by plageurism? Was it Andy Worhol who said 90% of everything is crap? How much of the remaining 10% of aacedemic research would not get done? Maybe it's time for a little destruction.

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Anonymous Coward

As a graduate student and an essay-writer...

"besides some professors losing their ability to maintain their careers by plageurism"

Are seriously suggesting academics base their work on the low-grade submissions of undergraduates in short essays? If this were the case then we'd be in serious trouble. It is *extremely* rare for undergraduates to produce any original research (which is what academics do). Even if they do, they simply don't have the scope in most cases for it to be any good.

As to plagiarising grad students... well, all grad students' work in the UK is kept in their institutional library and put on a central database of theses. So if plagiarism IS taking place it would be fairly easy to trace.

If an essay submission isn't based on your own work (and a purchased essay is someone else's work), and you don't acknowledge other people's work (which you wouldn't), it's plagiarism. It's cheating.

If the university system is flawed it has a lot to do with the government's crazy desire to get 50% of the population into higher education. Yet cheating is still not a legitimate means of earning a degree. And that's what these sites allow. I know this, because I write for one of them.

If you can't complete academic work then you're either not good enough to earn a degree or you're not being properly supported. Either way you should look to your university -- not an essays website -- for help.

Using these sites is pretty pathetic. But then, lazy students like those who use these sites help me pay the bills!

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The academic system

Maybe the academic system would work better if it ceased being a moneymaking diploma-mill doing bogus vocational training (you don't really need a degree to be able to do most jobs that require one), and went back to producing educated citizens and doing independent research.

Of course, for that to happen society as a whole would have to stump up the money. You know - taxes and government spending.

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Design assessments better

These sites exist and students use them because "universities aren't doing their job"? Rubbish. This attitude that you somehow buy the right to a degree when you pay your enrolment is ridiculous. Universities are like health clubs. You pay a fee, you get to use the resources and a personal trainer to help you, but you're the one who's got to do the work to get fit.

Having said that, there are simpler solutions to the problem of plagiarism. Assessments can be created which are impossible - or at least very difficult - to plagiarise. I usually ask to see work-in-progress - a draft, plan or proposal for the final essay or project - and make this an assessed part of the whole work, producing some 10% or 20% of the final mark. I often write in a viva, or presentation, as well.

Of course, I can never be _completely_ sure that what I am reading is the student's own work in any given case but over the course of an academic year, after I have seen these people's work on several occasions, one gets the hang of their style. I am lucky though - I see a small group of students on an intensive basis over a whole year or more. The problem also lies when you get essays from students you barely know except as a distant face in a lecture theatre or even just a student ID number. Then they might as well have had their work written by some anonymous Net-boffin for all that the work is the product of sustained intellectual interaction between teacher and student. So maybe the complaint about "diploma mills" is valid - but as Mr. Murray says, for that we need society to support traditional liberal education. I can't see it happening though. Too "Inefficient" for the Labour Gov^W^W modern world.

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The solution may be simple, but...

clearly essaywriting companies won't implement it, as it would drastically reduce the number of cheating customers, and let's face it, Matthew Wilson can defend his company til he's blue in the face, but that doesn't change the fact that his company's business model directly (and possibly solely) aims at helping cheats.

Any legitimate business they garner in the process must be a bonus rather than their core revenue stream.

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Anonymous Coward

What about certification brain dumps?

As Google is an IT-centric company, a natural extension to banning essay writing companies would be to ban braindump sites that purport to sell "study guides" for IT certification exams. That hurts not just academia, but a whole industry.

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If you need to cheat you're not good enough

Somebody has already said it, but it needs to be said again. Not every person is cut out for university. I started in a program with 400 students, only 12 of us graduated 4 years later. If you find the program you are in is too hard for you, then it means you don't have the natural ability to be doing it and you have two choices:

1) Switch to another program more suited to you

2) Work harder to EARN your marks

I can't stand cheating students (I've caught several now) and I also can't stand students who whine that since they paid for their degree they should get it!

Sorry for the rant, but cheating students devalue my degree which I had to work to earn!

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Ban the Wiki as well

Whilst Google are taking this action to remove the availability of low quality poorly researched ill-informed garbage that students are using to get degrees, they might as well get rid of the Wiki from their indexes as well. It amounts to about the same thing.

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