Is Ghost-Writing the New Face of “Plagiarism” in Academia?

Is Ghost-Writing the New Face of “Plagiarism” in Academia?

Anxious to get ahead in today's forbidding labor market, college students have begun cheating on a heretofore unknown scale.

A decade ago there were wild rumors about college students turning to “hired guns” – graduate students and even unemployed teachers — to write their term papers and college essays for them.

Shocked, a number of media outlets called on college administrators and tenured professors to comment on the phenomenon.  They did, and confidently reassured the intellectual class that the practice was not widespread.

The quality of the papers they sampled was deemed poor, even laughable.  No serious student could possibly benefit from outside “ghost-writing,” they insisted.

Boy, were they wrong.

Not only is the academic ghost-writing business flourishing, it’s becoming increasingly lucrative. Tens of thousands of students have begun turning to current and former scholars every semester to help them “beat the system.”  And as news of their “success” spreads, their numbers are growing.

With outside help on a heretofore unknown scale, students are inflating their grades, cheating their fellow classmates, and defrauding their schools and the taxpayers that help subsidize their tuition.  Moreover, a few unscrupulous business owners are raking in hundreds of thousands of dollars in profits — possibly more — off the illicit paper trade.

It’s a veritable epidemic of intellectual fraud.   In response, some colleges are expanding their definition of “academic integrity” beyond the scope of traditional plagiarism, and warning students of dire consequences should their duplicity be detected.

But just as many colleges are still pretending the phenomenon doesn’t exist.  And the fact is, academic ghost-writing, unlike traditional plagiarism, is exceedingly difficult to detect.

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