Got Spellcheck. Will Write for Food
Walking by bus stops in Astana, particularly those near universities, you might see ads that read like the one illustrated here: “Will write research papers and dissertations (in Russian or Kazakh). Selection of texts and translations. Written to schedule, high-quality, CHEAP!” Other ads highlight that they write course papers in Kazakh, a big help to those students whose grasp of the language isn’t up to par.
In the US professors struggle with similar problems from fraternities that keep file cabinets full of essays to students who cut-and-paste from Wikipedia, to ads on Craigslist that advertise paper-writing services. A friend of mine recently brought to my attention an ad posted near my old university where a student was soliciting someone to write their paper for them. Plagiarists who copy from the Internet, or who resubmit a paper from a past class are easily caught–professors have google and long memories. Students who use paper writing services are harder to catch.
It’s sad that something like this can be advertised so freely on bus stops. One would hope that professors or administrators might see them and call them up in order to find out who they are and catch them, or at least learn their trademark styles in order to recognize the style of such services. But more than that, one might hope that the general public would be disgusted by such blatant cheating. Hiring someone to write a paper for you will teach you absolutely nothing and make your paper worthless–plagiarists at least have put in some research time! I certainly wouldn’t want a doctor who had used such a service operating on me. Or a lawyer or economist consulting my company!
But it isn’t surprising that students will find ways to cheat or that the market will find ways to help them. An informal interview with some students indicates that the average student sees term papers and dissertations as bureaucratic hoops to jump through. They are happy to use such services and some express admiration for the people who run paper-writing businesses, saying they must make a lot of money. One acquaintance even argued that it was an honorable profession because the guy was using his brain. It was the dumb students who were in the wrong.
In any case, few are surprised that a new form of cheating has come to Kazakhstan.
Crossposted on Chalkboard