Academic Writing Services: beware the paper mill

Academic Writing Services: beware the paper mill

The paper mill is the global industry based on the sale of academic essays to students.There are a number of ways that additional papers are added to the paper mill; here are three of them.  

Essay Databases

Donate a paper to join. There are a number of websites that hold databases of tens of thousands of papers all browseable and searchable once you have registered. These sites are sometimes even free! Wow. But hold on they are not exactly free, first you have to contribute an essay yourself by uploading it to the database.

Now you may ask “What’s wrong with that?”; maybe it’s an old essay that has already been marked. Well to a point you are right but remember these websites are commercial businesses and some are very profitable. The profit is earned as a result of having all these papers in their database.   

The free anti plagiarism scanner

There is a business currently offering free use of an anti plagiarism scanner to check your academic documents. Again this seems great; something for nothing. The process once again is an exchange, you add your essay to our database and we’ll let you check it for plagiarism.

The first problem with this is that the scanner they offer uses an entirely different method of assessing the percentage plagiarism rate than Turnitin the programme used by universities. I recently submitted the same document to both scanners, the free one came up with 5% but when it was scanned by Turnitin the level rose above 25%.. oops!

But that’s not all. When you register for the service you notice that you start getting emails from a company that sells essays! A few clicks later and it’s clear that they are the same company. So the provider of the scanner harvesting thousands of papers from students and academics also sell essays…hmmm?

Free proofreading scam

Finally, there are the ads that appear on websites like Gumtree offering free proofreading. Some offer to proofread part of your document for free but insist you send the whole document – why?

Some claim they are doing it in return for a reference – one I know has been stating this for at least two years – how many references do you need for heaven’s sake.

Others will do it all and don’t even need a reference– an offer that seems too good to be true. One I saw recently was written in appalling English and the advertisers’ only claim to be qualified was that they were ‘a former London resident’…. and presumably a current Lagos resident! When you submit your document you will be told that they are ‘fully booked’. But by then it’s too late they have already got your work. This work will go on to be sold to others I’m afraid.

So what to do?

Well you should certainly value your work, others do and they see pound signs. Any large scale heavily promoted website is likely to be part of the paper mill with a large database of students’ and academics’ work. Once your essay is ‘out there’ what happens to it is beyond your control. So my advice on this is that ‘small is beautiful’.

Secondly, avoid ‘free proofreading’ offers. Proofreading is a painstaking lengthy task if done properly and frankly nobody would do it for free.

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