More Students Cheating Online
> 9/11/2006 1:15:33 PM

Cheating is an unavoidable element of education, in spite of strict regulations and diligent professors. Whether due to a lack of conviction or an overwhelming desire to perform, countless students use dishonest venues to score higher marks. In a display of an open technology's negative implications, current students find it easier than ever to rip answer sheets, essays, and term papers from any number of "education" websites. Where cheating in the past most often involved direct plagiarism, with students spending time in the library, copying relevant material and passing it off as their own, these sites offer widely varied entries on all conceivable topics to anyone with a working credit card.

While a recent New York Times overview brought new attention to this phenomenon, it's been covered frequently in the last few years as college and high school professors find more students resorting to online sources (also called "paper mills") for academic misconduct. These sites, whose prices range from nonexistent to more than twenty dollars a page, offer "original" material whose authors remain anonymous and, in many cases, decidedly ill-informed.'s humorous review of term-paper sites made light of the laughable content making up most of these entries. In what may be an attempt to mimic typically subpar undergraduate writing assignments, the essays often feature numerous instances of misspelling, incorrect grammar, and generally negligible content.

How are educators to combat this newest rash of academic dishonesty? They have little choice but to approach it in much the same way as plagiarisms past, parsing student essays with a meticulous eye for detail and particularly wary of signals pointing toward fabrication. An attentive professor should have relatively little trouble in identifying work that does not fit the student to whom it is attributed, whether because of ill-fitting language or unbelievable knowledge of the subject in question. While the detrimental effects of sites like or on the world of education is questionable, greater punishment for confirmed cheaters may be in order.

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