Easy way out? Not really
THE NEW YORK TIMES
September 10, 2006
At $9.95 a Page, You Expected Poetry?
By CHARLES McGRATH
THE Web site for an outfit called Term Paper Relief features a picture of a young college student chewing her lip.
“Damn!” a little comic-strip balloon says. “I’ll have to cancel my Saturday night date to finish my term paper before the Monday deadline.”
Well, no, she won’t — not if she’s enterprising enough to enlist Term Paper Relief to write it for her. For $9.95 a page she can obtain an “A-grade” paper that is fashioned to order and “completely non-plagiarized.” This last detail is important. Thanks to search engines like Google, college instructors have become adept at spotting those shop-worn, downloadable papers that circulate freely on the Web, and can even finger passages that have been ripped off from standard texts and reference works.
A grade-conscious student these days seems to need a custom job, and to judge from the number of services on the Internet, there must be virtual mills somewhere employing armies of diligent scholars who grind away so that credit-card-equipped undergrads can enjoy more carefree time together.
How good are the results? With first semester just getting under way at most colleges, bringing with it the certain prospect of both academic and social pressure, The Times decided to undertake an experiment in quality control of the current offerings. Using her own name and her personal e-mail address, an editor ordered three English literature papers from three different sites on standard, often-assigned topics: one comparing and contrasting Huxley’s “Brave New World” and Orwell’s “1984”; one discussing the nature of Ophelia’s madness in “Hamlet”; and one exploring the theme of colonialism in Conrad’s “Lord Jim.”
A small sample, perhaps, but one sufficient, upon perusal, to suggest that papers written to order are just like the ones students write for themselves, only more so — they’re poorly organized, awkwardly phrased, thin on substance, but masterly in the ancient arts of padding and stating and restating the obvious.
If they’re delivered, that is.
Read the rest of the story here.