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Notes 2 The Ghostwriting Business Before it is possible to prevent and police ghostwriting, one must understand the industry. Though many educators are well aware of ghostwriting, how it happens and that it most likely has occurred in their own classrooms, just as many others have a limited or nonexistent sense of its impact.

Quite to the point, of the many reactions that greeted my original article in The Chronicle, doubt and skepticism were among the most common. Some truly dedicated, earnest, and otherwise astute educators refused to accept not only that wholesale cheating of this sort could be perpetrated but that it could be done so consistently and effectively without detection right under their noses.

I was actually a little shocked that they were so shocked. Too many educators were resistant to the idea rather arrogantly, if I may editorialize that a student could or would employ the services of a ghostwriter to complete a major assignment, a dissertation, or an entire course of study. But I worked directly with students over the course of entire semesters to develop theses, respond to mentor feedback, make revisions, and ultimately produce final dissertations.

We should first demystify this mode of cheating by analyzing it the way we would any traditional business, because, in most regards, it is a traditional business.

For instance, ABC Papers, Amazing Papers, BookReportsRUs, Paper Campus, PaperResearch, and Paper Tutors all fall under the Paper Experts Inc. However, using the multi-draft process can stretch an assignment out across weeks or months. These are the likeliest perpetrators of ghostwritten plagiarism: By building conferencing meaningfil videoconferencing into the semester, the instructor fosters a relationship with his or her students that will function as its own deterrent. Only the critical eye of the professor will be capable of determining if academic dishonesty has occurred. Too many educators were resistant to the idea rather arrogantly, if I may editorialize that a student could or would employ the services of a ghostwriter to complete a major assignment, a dissertation, or an entire course of study.

Ghostwriting is legal, accessible and, with proper management, capable of driving a successful and sustainable company. Your ability to confront ghostwriting will depend on how well you understand the nature and norms of the business. What follows is a ground level overview of the industry.

We will also build on this discussion with a more comprehensive and self-contained analysis of the business in a separate account. Here, however, we begin with a brief overview of the ghostwriting industry. But for a frame of reference, we look to the practice of medical ghostwriting, which is more readily allowed read: As with graduate and undergraduate ghostwriting, medical ghostwriting is an industry that operates partially in plain view and partially in shadow.

Flanagin et al found that of articles published in peer-reviewed medical journals, for 19 percent there was evidence that guest authors had not substantially contributed to the article, 93 11 percent included ghost authors, and for 13 articles two this web page there was evidence of both.

These findings also underscore just how difficult it is to gain a full perspective on the prevalence of ghostwriting in colleges and grad schools. Still, we may be able to deduce a great deal just from the accessibility and ease-of-use of ghostwriting services. If a student has the money, he or she has the means. Each of these terms will ultimately return dozens of pages of relevant search results. These results provide us a glancing view of the online ghostwriting business but they also conceal layers of syndication; they obscure countries of origin; and they intermingle paper mills with legitimate education websites on the Internet landscape.

On the subject of legitimate sites, Coastal Carolina University provides us with a useful resource, though a relatively outdated one at this juncture. The site, last updated inoffers a list of Internet paper mills containing several hundred distinct entities and their associated links. Today, I use it as it was intended, to help widen our knowledge of this industry. I would therefore call attention to a useful fact elucidated by the CCU site regarding the syndication or networking of ghostwriting sites.

Though hundreds or thousands of links may appear for every search term entered, some of these sites will reflect overlap. Each site will pull in orders through its distinct order form. Orders are consequently directed to a repository site to which independently contracted writers have access. One staff of writers and one set of umbrella policies may actually serve several dozen companies or sites. For instance, ABC Papers, Amazing Papers, BookReportsRUs, Paper Campus, PaperResearch, and Paper Tutors all fall under the Paper Experts Inc.

CCU lists as many as 23 services affiliated with Paper Experts, though many appear to be defunct now. From this latter fact, we can also deduce that the visit web page life varies considerably from ghostwriting service to the next.

Admittedly though, this inference probably does not differentiate a ghostwriting startup company from any other web-based business. I can attest to the long-term survival of companies like custompapers. Ghostwriting companies also vary widely in size.

Most rely on a stable of independent contractors. However, this stable can range from just two or three writers to thousands. As we will explore in a separate and more exhaustive article about the paper mill business, the buyer must always be wary. Quality control can vary greatly from one company or writer to the next. The point that we raise with Crest Essays is that its staff of writers and its general output are substantial.


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Mandating contributions to class discussions gives students a strong incentive to establish a consistent voice and perspective on course subjects. The customer service is really helpful and very reliable. These students turn to ghostwriting services out of a combination of desperation and expedience. This is not to suggest that the ghostwriter will struggle to complete an assignment that is otherwise unique and original in nature. The secret to supporting increasing healthy populations of wildlife is establishing complete habitat. By creating a safe educational context in which these positions can be shared, explored, defended, and held in civil contrast with one another, the instructor can deter the student from outsourcing the expression of these positions when it comes time to write. This free online application is designed to help students in grades write an online persuasive essay.

This is true of at least several dozen if not several hundred companies of comparable size. There is little in the way of a comprehensive scientific review of the industry, its size, and the economy it commands. The global nature of the business, the chosen anonymity of the customer base and the fact that at least some portion of vendors engages in only semi-legitimate business practices make it difficult to truly ascertain the reach of ghostwriting in education. From what is immediately apparent though, we can conclude two things about the prevalence of ghostwriting: The inquiring student will find it easy to locate a desired service and begin using it; and The enterprising freelancer will find it easy to locate an employment opportunity and begin earning income from it.

In my experience, there are few freelance writing outlets where independent writers and unaffiliated clients are more readily, efficiently, and consistently paired with one another. In terms of prevalence, the qualitative takeaway for educators is basically this: It is extremely easy for students to cheat using ghostwriting services. The variance is usually determined by deadline. Papers due in a week or more are typically bound to the low end of the pricing spectrum. For anything due in less than a week, the cost per page will go up as the number of days goes down.

A paper due in less than 24 hours will fall on the highest end of the cost-per-page spectrum. Another feature that each of my past employers has in common is the use of a writer-manager or, in the case of larger companies, multiple writer-managers. In nearly all cases, the writer-manager will serve as a liaison between the company and the independently contracted writer; and as a mediator in conflicts, disagreements or confusion between writers and customers.

Given the linguistic challenges that so many ghostwriting clients face, the third of these occasions happens rather frequently. Each company has its own way of processing orders and delegating assignments. The mode of delegation is usually a determining factor in the operational model. Below is a brief outline of the three preeminent operational models. The models outlined here are drawn largely from personal experience.

A writer-manager will send assignments directly to a writer based on declared areas of expertise. Assignments will come with instructions, deadline, and amount of compensation. When a writer agrees to take on an assignment, he or she becomes responsible for submission by the deadline.

Based on the deadline, length, and anticipated difficulty of an assignment, writers will quote prices for prospective assignments. Though writers create their own bids, relative market value still applies. Bids that overshoot the anticipated value are rarely matched with assignments. Another writer will likely quote a fairer price. This is the most sophisticated and efficient front- and back-end model.

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When an order is placed through a website, pricing is automatically determined per-page based on the length of time until deadline. The order is also automatically placed on a bulletin board visible to writers by way of username and password. This gives the writer an opportunity to visit the board and select orders at his or her discretion. These are the likeliest perpetrators of ghostwritten plagiarism: International students often arrive at American universities without a background or meaningful support in English composition.

According to a study, these students lack the skills for paraphrasing and inferential use of sources possessed by their English-speaking counterparts. International students comprise a ready-made source of revenue for the ghostwriting business. These students turn to ghostwriting services out of a combination of desperation and expedience.

A startling number American students—for whom English is a native language—will actually suffer from many of these exact same deficits. The viability of the ghostwriting industry shines a spotlight on the tragically overlooked prevalence of students at the undergraduate and even graduate levels who simply lack the skills or knowledge to produce university-level writing or research.

Some ghostwriting clients simply lack the motivation and interest to complete their own work, a condition that Farnese et al. In other cases, the lazy student may, in addition to being unmotivated, lack the necessary writing and research skills to complete the task at hand. These students turn to ghostwriting services as the path of least resistance. In the conversation on prevention, the motivation to cheat is of considerable importance and can help educators to target students with preventative strategies.

As we will find, removing the sense of pressure or dread that comes with academic deficiency or misplacement may be an important part of contending with ghostwriting and with academic cheating on a more general scale. As I mentioned, I myself got started the old-fashioned way, taking orders from fellow Rutgers classmates and accumulating a growing independent business entirely by word of mouth.

However, the web has proliferated and simplified cheating, dramatically expanding the accessibility, visibility, and ease with which students can lift, recycle or otherwise claim authorship of work that is not their own. Consequently, the growth of this industry helped to provoke the growth of the plagiarism-detection industry of which Turnitin is a leading example.

Other notable sites include Viper, Plagscan, Plagtracker, GrammarlySmall SEO Tools, and Plagiarism Checker. Turnitin represents the gold standard in plagiarism detection. Even so, given the limitations inherent in plagiarism detection, even Turnitin has no way to bring its extensive empirical data to bear on ghostwriting.

This is not because Turnitin is unaware of the ghostwriting industry. To the contrary, the company has shown itself quite open and dedicated to better understanding the impact of ghostwriting. For many ghostwriting customers, this detection software actually provides a modicum of comfort, suggesting that the instructor may not be reading the work and simply be letting automated plagiarism checkers test for originality.

Presuming the ghostwriter has created a wholly original piece, Turnitin software will not detect any irregularity. Further, it is quite common for a customer to include a specification in their instructions that all completed work will be passed through Turnitin or a similar program. This means that the ghostwriter can often make practical decisions that will ensure no irregularities are detected. The motivation to do so is simply sound business practice and helps to facilitate repeat patronage. But most ghostwriting companies also succeed on the strength of the return customer.

Each company that I worked for provided the customer with a field in the order form by which to request a preferred writer. I would receive an automatic email notification telling me that a customer had requested my services. In addition to the implication that such repeat customers have clearly succeeded in passing ghostwritten work off as their own on multiple occasions, this repeat business denotes that ghostwriters are actively engaged in practices designed to evade detection. These practices are what keep customers turning to the paper mill for help again and again.

With these conditions in mind, we point to a handful of detection and deterrence challenges that are unique to ghostwriting: Most ghostwriting companies are faithful to this service guarantee and will terminate independent contractors for failure to comply. Though the optimistic educator may take some comfort in the view that paper mills are click to see more legitimate enough to constitute a threat, there are rules for professional paper writers and the more successful companies will enforce them.

Chief among these rules is the responsibility to provide completely original, never-before-used material crafted to respond to a specific assignment inquiry. Ghostwriting places the onus on the educator to have initial cause for suspicion. This requires the individual grading a written assignment to sense a disconnect between the student and the assignment, which of course requires some initial familiarity with the student in question. There are a great many educational contexts in which this is difficult if not impossible. When I began my ghostwriting career at Rutgers, there was no mystery as to why the semi-coherent, fraternity-bound, budding alcoholics who used my services were able to pass my work off as their own.

Courses are routinely taught in lecture halls containing hundreds of students; written assignments are often reviewed by teaching assistants; and any personal interaction between professor and student is strictly optional. Naturally, students who plan on defrauding the professor are distinctly less likely to pursue a personal relationship with him or her.

These challenges are compounded even further as a consequence of distance learning, online education and for-profit education the last of which I mention here both because much of it is exclusively online and because ghostwritten cheating abounds in this context. Paper writing service scams to make money contexts like this demonstrate just how unlikely it really is that a professor will have cause to question the authorship of an assignment once it has passed through plagiarism detection software.

That said, ghostwriting is not confined to the web class or giant lecture hall. I was also often hired to write in direct response to professor feedback, especially in post-graduate contexts. This suggests that some students are not dissuaded from employing ghostwriting services in more intimate settings, even as intimate as one-on-one interaction with an academic mentor.

Cheating is, of course, a serious allegation and students have a lot riding on the completion of their education. So obviously, the average student will go to great lengths to deny any such allegations. Students are not afraid to get litigious if need be. The point is, as an educator, one must be very careful about levying the accusation without hard evidence. This is true regardless of the chosen method of cheating.

What differentiates ghostwriting is that, true to its name, it leaves a far less visible trail. Assuming that an instructor has cause to suspect an assignment, he or she now has the unenviable obligation to demonstrate guilt based on a well-informed and probably correct suspicion.


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The process is an uphill climb. Plagiarism detection software or even a quick Google search can verify suspicion of a cut-and-paste job and yield incontrovertible proof. Part of the discussion of detection and deterrence must logically revolve around finding ways of accumulating concrete proof based on suspicion. Taken together, these challenges render many traditional methods of combating plagiarism even flimsier when applied to ghostwriting.

This means that most professors have almost certainly graded ghostwritten material without ever realizing it. There are perhaps as many others who have graded ghostwritten materials with some level of suspicion but without the means, institutional support or emotional energy to translate this into proof. The challenges specific to ghostwriting call for an approach that is not merely reactive i. That is to say that educators and institutions can take certain essay a police officer steps that both discourage cheating by way of ghostwriting and place educators in a more advantageous position to spot questionable work and acquire meaningful proof of its third-party authorship.

A college student spends an entire semester goofing off. Naturally, he shows up for the final exam with all the answers written on his arm. He finishes the exam and brings it to the front of the room. As he places it on the top of the test pile, the professor looks down at him from the lectern.

He observes the cheat-sheet scrawled on the student and demands to see his arm. The student responds indignantly: So the student shoves his exam in the middle of the stack and quickly departs. There is a lot about the system of higher education, as it is today, that makes cheating easy. The goal of the present account is to help educators create a campus atmosphere where cheating is neither as easy nor as desirable.

This calls for a combination of reactive and proactive measures, an encompassing approach that broadens and gives nuance to the fight against cheating. There are far-reaching educational issues implicated by the viability of the ghostwriting industry. To reiterate the challenges facing students with learning or language deficiencies, policing alone does not get to the root of the problem.

The goal of this strategy, therefore, is to take on cheating both as a violation of academic integrity and as a symptom of some broader problems within our educational system. This is an area in education where quality control runs the gamut from excellence to criminal incompetence.

There are plenty of professors who work tirelessly to tailor assignments, materials and examinations to remain in-step with constantly evolving subject matter, student culture and best practices. But there are also plenty of professors who recycle old materials without scrutiny and who depend wholly on text-based content which most students could acquire without professor mediation.

With those professors who take the latter approach, students may find cheating not only easier but also more susceptible to rationalization. One of the most common forms of cheating involves submitting work produced by students in previous courses. Relatively subtle changes to assessment tasks can be enough to alert markers to cheating.

Case studies, contexts, data sets, and actual items can be changed while assessing the same outcomes. Even just 20 years ago, the risks of reusing the same basic assignment or exam were modest. There have always been on-campus repositories of completed assignments available for student purchase. This is not to suggest that the ghostwriter will struggle to complete an assignment that is otherwise unique and original in nature. To say it simply, a generic assignment begets a generic essay. If this is all an instructor seeks from his or her students, said instructor makes it nearly impossible to differentiate between the work of a pupil and the work of a person who has never set a foot in the lecture hall.

If, by contrast, one designs materials, assignments and exams with thought, care, and specificity, one has much better odds of spotting the work of an outsider. Class time should be used to challenge students with unique and fun writing exercises. There are a lot of ways to integrate this strategy into an existing curriculum. Assignments can be formal and woven into the grading structure or they can simply be loosely defined writing activities designed to promote critical thinking. The important thing is that these assignments will require students to write thoughtfully and uniquely on course-relevant subjects, providing the instructor with readily verifiable writing samples throughout a semester.

No matter how convincingly a ghostwriter writes on a given subject, this approach provides a document whose authorship is not in question as a point of comparison. For assignments of greater depth, a balance between in-class and out-of-class draft-writing offers a measure of oversight even as the student pursues an assignment independently.

The caveat with this strategy is that there may be nothing stopping the student from outsourcing each and every draft of the assignment. However, using the multi-draft process can stretch an assignment out across weeks or months. This results in a greater length of exposure for the cheating student. Instead of the once-and-done security of getting away with a single ghostwritten assignment, each student knows that his or her work will be held up to sustained and ongoing scrutiny.

By inserting one-on-one conferences into this draft process, the instructor can heighten this scrutiny by requiring each student to defend the approach, argument, and decisions comprising the written work. This is also an opportunity to challenge students to craft unique arguments based on course content. This challenge may even strain the credibility of submitted assignments to the point of making them more detectable.

In other words, the assignment instructs the student to write about a life-changing experience and the customer leaves me, the ghostwriter, with the power to define this life-changing experience. Naturally, not every subject or discipline lends itself to personalization. Most ghostwriters have no problem with a little creative writing but, again, this approach gives an educator the chance to spot a mismatch between a student and the written work. Just as experienced ghostwriters become accustomed to seeing the exact same assignments over and over, they also get accustomed to seeing the same sources and course materials again and again.

Instructors can reduce the ease with which an outsider can replicate old assignments by updating course materials and creating new assignments on an annual basis. Ghostwriters rely on materials that are readily available online and prefer the efficiency of assignments that can be summoned from memory and experience.

In addition to creating unique course materials, a course should be designed to distinguish the in-class experience from the experience of reading about something on Wikipedia. Most texts are readily available online. By contrast, a lecture, a class discussion and the experience of being a part of both should be something unique and impossible to replicate. Naturally, if they can get it on the Internet, so can any ghostwriter. The goal is obviously not to eliminate, supersede, or overlook the standard texts.

The classics are important. But differentiating what happens in a classroom and calling for written work that reflects this differentiation do create a genuine challenge for the ghostwriter. Predictable testing methods i. Multiple-choice, machine-graded exams help the student differentiate between reporting to class on test day and outsourcing take-home writing work. Merging essay-writing and test-taking removes this impression.

Instructors can create mixed format tests that include multiple-choice, essay questions, short-answer questions, etc. This approach requires the student to demonstrate writing capacity during in-class testing.

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Once again, this approach results in the creation of a written document that one can be certain originated from the student in question. This forms a good basis for comparison with suspicious take-home work and—insofar as it also might give the student pause before submitting ghostwritten work—also makes an excellent segue into our discussion on deterrence.

A Research in Higher Education study, seeking to understand the motives behind student cheating, finds that cheating is often rational in nature. The study finds that the onus falls on instructors to live up to certain student expectations regarding clarity and engagement of course content. The study identifies this as the best route to deterring the rationalized impulse to use a ghostwriting service.

The NZQA suggests that one way to deter cheating is to be in a state of constant evidence-gathering. The NZQA notes that such evidence can extend from written work to a mix of formative and summative assessments as well as informal ongoing observations. Students know when a professor is disengaged from the subject, the class, or the general profession of educating our youth.

The Honor System is a useful way to ensure that students understand what is expected of their work in terms of originality. But it makes for a poor deterrent on its own. The customers who contact ghostwriting services out of laziness or a feeling of being overburdened by their various personal and academic responsibilities are generally not moved by the ethical quandary of cheating. When they express concern to the ghostwriter about the process of purchasing and receiving a ghostwritten paper, all of this concern focuses on the fear of being caught. While many of the suggestions below revolve around student engagement as a way of deterring cheating, they work best when backed by sound detection strategies such as those outlined in the subsequent section.

Individualization of the educational experience can instill in the student a greater sense of commitment to course materials and to the knowledge and career opportunities thereby implied. Large lecture halls and online courses can create a sense of anonymity for the would-be cheater. Instructors can remove this sense of anonymity by creating opportunities where students can advance along individual research paths while sharing the same larger educational experience. Strategies include greater research subject flexibility, more opportunities for independent study and the chance to complete work directly relevant to a chosen career path.

Students will be less inclined to employ the services of a ghostwriter if they believe that what they are researching will actually lead to pertinent knowledge and skills with value beyond university halls. One thing that large universities and online courses have in common is that, if one desires, one can go an entire semester without ever once personally meeting a professor. There is comfort in this anonymity. Removing this comfort creates a deterrent that does not otherwise exist.

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With respect to online courses, videoconferencing applications are now readily available and standard for laptops, home computers, and smartphones. By building conferencing or videoconferencing into the semester, the instructor fosters a relationship with his or her students that will function as its own deterrent. Mandatory class participation heightens the imperative for students to become familiar with course content. Mandating contributions to class discussions gives students a strong incentive to establish a consistent voice and perspective on course subjects.

Class discussion helps to create a connection between the student and certain ideas, perspectives, and ways of expressing oneself on a given subject. The more intensive and exciting the in-class discussion, the harder it will be for students to divorce themselves from the ideas stated in class. As a ghostwriter, I have completed countless assignments on controversial social issues like gun control, abortion, affirmative action, and the War on Terror.

In every case, the student is likely to have a well-defined position and some fairly personal reasons for that position. By creating a safe educational context in which these positions can be shared, explored, defended, and held in civil contrast with one another, the instructor can deter the student from outsourcing the expression of these positions when it comes time to write.

This approach forces students to own the opinions and ideas that will ultimately form their written work. As a bonus, this approach is also more than likely helping students to refine their ideas in ways that make them better prepared to handle their written assignments. This one is really and truly up to each individual educator. In reality, this relationship weighs heavier on the conscience. Many students feel no remorse about cheating in a course from which there is a feeling of disengagement.

Uninspired lectures, standard texts, and generic assignments serve as great ammunition for a student who wishes to rationalize his or her detachment. These conditions also help to reinforce the commonly held conception among students that education revolves around grading rather than learning. Educators create a deterrent to this attitude by being their best selves in the classroom, during their office hours and beyond. Course discussions where students are invited to share research experience and knowledge Professor lectures based on and attributed to content drawn from student assignments A requirement for students to occasionally present research findings or other written work to the class or professor In each instance, the student has added cause to be intimately familiar with his or her subject and is therefore deterred from handing the subject off to a ghostwriter.

In a study regarding authorship identification of online messages, Zheng et al. These habits, such as paragraph length, use of indentation, and use of signature, can be strong authorial evidence of personal writing style. But faculty must review and interpret the report.

Only the critical eye of the professor will be capable of determining if academic dishonesty has occurred. The goal is to find instructive and innovative ways of merging human analysis and technology-mediated assessment to detect ghostwriting. The tool will be soon enlarged with ghostwriter detectors. We do hope that it will discover the cheat and reduce it to the level of previous years. The study acknowledges the challenge of applying this strategy to the decidedly more modest bodies of work created by individual students. It is hoped that even as a precursor to a full-scale study, this project will be able to suggest steps that maximize the reliability of ascription of ghostwritten works.

Turnitin and other plagiarism-detection services have all but eliminated the threats of copy-and-paste, duplication, and other modes of self-directed online cheating. Of course, students attempt all of these methods anyway. But educators do have a resource at their disposal that absolutely works. Students who use ghostwriting services know this quite well. As I noted earlier, assignment instructions often include the specification that Turnitin will be used.

The ghostwriter will compose an assignment with every intention of evading this security. But of course, the ghostwriter can only control what goes on outside of the classroom. It therefore falls on the professor to use in-class time wisely. Standardizing one-on-one conferencing with each student following assignment-submission requires each student to defend his or her writing.

This is an especially attractive approach because it need not revolve around the suspicion of cheating. This healthy exercise can simply serve as a way of helping the student to reflect on the content of an assignment and the process involved in its completion. Inconsistencies between the ideas, voice and knowledge expressed in the written work and in the interview will serve as red flags and as a point of entry for a more prying investigation. Of the many strategies outlined in this account, this may well be the most readily adaptable to any context where writing forms a portion of the coursework.

  • Making this decision is also difficult these days because so many things are changing in the online world of freelance academic writing.
  • This approach forces students to own the opinions and ideas that will ultimately form their written work.
  • Most rely on a stable of independent contractors.

Here, the orientation process for any writing-intensive course will begin with an in-class writing assignment. This sample will serve as a literary fingerprint for each student to be used for the purpose of matching against voice, diction, and other distinguishing features when evaluating future assignments for signs of ghostwriting. In addition to being adaptable to any number of learning contexts, this is a strategy that could also produce meaningful evidence of cheating or, at the very least, shift the burden of proof to the student.

Not to be overlooked is the opportunity that this strategy also offers to identify students who struggle with writing and to provide them with access to the support they need. One way to improve the chances of detecting ghostwritten work is to simply be a savvier user of click to see more than the average cheating student. Most instructors already require students to submit materials digitally. Certainly this is true for educators teaching online courses and for those who use plagiarism-detection software.

All of this information constitutes real, concrete, and usable evidence in making a case against a student suspected of cheating. Based on the effectiveness and value of Turnitin. According to a study published in the December International Journal of Computer Science and Network, stylometric [O1][BT2]software may be an effective tool in author identification and authentication. Its use has historically pertained to authorship attribution for ancient texts and classical works of literature whose authorship is in question. However, a compelling study from notes that a forensic interest in online authorship attribution has given new purpose to stylometric analysis.

Researchers point to two major distinctions in the detection of online authorship: This would add a layer of detection against ghostwriting that does not yet exist. Such technology is largely in the research and development phase today but, once market-ready, could significantly ease the burden of detection placed upon the educator. Teachers are in the classroom to teach. The instructor must be dedicated to the education of his or her students, not just to punching an academic time card.

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Yeah … If only it were that simple. Far too many students show up in the classroom or lecture hall without even the basic fundamental writing skills needed to compose a Tweet let alone plumb the depths of anything. More than that, it invokes the idea of bringing a knife to a gunfight. For most, the fear of getting caught is substantially less than the fear of failing, mostly because the latter seems likelier than the former. No amount of threatening can stop a desperate student from taking the last resort.

There is a perspective today, fostered by scandals at silver-spoon academies like Stuyvesant High School and Harvard University, that privileged students are cheating more than ever before. And that is almost certainly true. Day in, day out, my work as a ghostwriter brought me into contact with students who truly and completely lacked the capacity to communicate through the written medium.

I corresponded with them via email. The writing deficiencies that students carry into read more and beyond are nothing short of disturbing. Some of them were wealthy students in reputable universities.

Some of them were lower middle-class Phoenix University enrollees who were probably using some portion of their student loan money to pay for my services. To deter them from hiring ghostwriters, it is necessary to do more than scare them. We need to help them. These are the students who are by far the most likely to employ a ghostwriter. In order to reduce the presence of the ghostwriter in the classroom, educators must take preemptive steps to identify those who are most likely to need his services.

Addressing their struggles reduces the single biggest motive for academic dishonesty. It is important to connect struggling students—graduate and undergraduate alike—to needed academic support. It is no longer reasonable to take for granted the idea that a student who has somehow advanced along the educational continuum to arrive in a university classroom must inherently have the academic skills needed to succeed there.

Instead, we must presume that struggling students are far more vulnerable to the temptation of cheating. Finding that suitable alternative could be a game-changer for many would-be ghostwriting clients. Alternatives may include the following: English Language Learner ELL support Writing assistance.

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