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Essay the easy way

by Archives March 25, 2008

TORONTO (CUP) – A new auction website is selling writers who can write academic papers. For students willing to pay a writer’s time, an original paper on the topic of their choosing can be theirs.
EssayBay.com, a web site in the same vein as eBay, offers students the opportunity to post essay topics and criteria. Writers then offer their price to write the paper, stating their fee and qualifications.
Buyers then choose which writer will produce their paper, the average price of which varies.
An essay topic posted, calling for a paper entitled “America’s War on Mustaches” was to be 1,750 words long and receive at least a B.
Within a few days there were seven bids from writers claiming to be graduates from acclaimed schools such as Oxford and Harvard. The bids ranged from just over $100 to about $400.
Jed Hallam, EssayBay’s public relations manager, said purchasing essays is nothing new.
“The custom essay industry has been around for hundreds of years now, be it in the form of an academic writing an essay for a friend or a student purchasing an essay from the Internet,” he said.
But, EssayBay is different.
“The market was previously murky, with custom essay companies often employing unqualified writers,” Hallam said.
“By increasing the transparency of the process, EssayBay hopes to drastically improve the industry. Our customers choose their own writer and establish their own code of conduct [this includes their ethical code regarding plagiarism],” said Hallam.
Plagiarism is what makes sites like EssayBay controversial, but Hallam disagrees with some universities’ plagiarism rules.
“It is ridiculous to suggest that using our service as a study aid is cheating, and this suggestion is merely a way for universities and colleges to reflect blame for poor assessment methods,” he said.
EssayBay’s view is that universities are to blame when students feel forced to have other people write their essays for them.
“Universities and colleges make huge profits every year by cutting back on marking and assessment. By recycling old essay titles and mass marking work, they’ve created their own issues,” Hallam said.
But with individually written work, plagiarism detection resources such as turnitin.com are useless.
“These cases are difficult to prove,” said Robert Kennedy, an academic advisor at Founders College.
Kennedy said professors can still ask students to hand in a bibliography and thesis statement before the actual essay is due, proving their advanced work on the paper.
He also recommended essays be structured in a way to make them relevant to the course, making it more obvious when papers are written by people unfamiliar with the course.
“This is really about time management issues,” Kennedy said.
He said that students who use these services often leave their work to the last minute and create a situation where sites like EssayBay are the only option for them.
He recommended students use the resources available at many universities such as research libraries, writing assistants and help sessions.
Marilyn Lambert-Drache, assistant dean of the faculty of arts at York University, sees services like EssayBay as an indication of a greater problem.
“I feel sorry when I hear of students purchasing essays, knowing all the resources we have on campus,” she said.
York’s combat of essay services is more pedagogical than direct. The university hopes that by offering services to assist in essay writing, students won’t find themselves considering the purchase of an essay.
“We can’t go after every service out there . . . We don’t support these services and we don’t want our students using these services,” said Lambert-Drache.
“We give the students the resources they need to acquire the skills they need.”

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