The Highly-Organized World of Professional Plagiarism

The story below is about ‘essay mills’ in Kenya, where workers work for a dollar an hour writing essays for students in wealthier countries. The focus of the story is sales to the UK, but the problem is obviously broader than that.

The ethical issue can be looked at here from two directions. The focus of the story is on the sellers: what they’re selling isn’t illegal, either in Kenya or in the UK. But it’s widely thought unethical: they’re helping students cheat, and corrupting the goals of educational institutions. But then, think of it from their end: what’s the point of ‘ethics’ in the first place? From one point of view, ethics civilizes things, and makes living alongside each other easier. But how would ethics help these Kenyan workers? They have few options, and many are supporting families. Things are slightly clearer from the other end: the students buying those essays have little plausible defence. Yes, they’re under pressure, but they’re not exactly likely to be starving. They should feel the full brunt of the standard arguments against plagiarism: it involves lying, cheating, and taking credit for someone else’s work.

p.s.: While not technically illegal, student plagiarism also a violation of the contract implied by all those papers they sign upon admission to a college or university.

>>>

LINK: Inside the African essay factories that churn out university coursework for 115,000 cheating British students every year
(by Jake Wallis Simons for the Daily Mail)

…With two children to support and unable to find a legitimate job despite his expertise, Mr Kamau was desperate.

He formed a syndicate with six friends, who used their life savings to buy a top account for $2,000. This allowed them to log on at home and cherry-pick the most profitable essays, like Masters dissertations and PhD theses.

‘It is very pressurised because if your work is rejected or contains plagiarism, your account is shut down,’ he said. ‘That is how the company maintains quality. And if more than one person logs on at once, you get problems. It is not easy for us.’

Due to mismanagement, Mr Kamau and his friends they missed two essay deadlines. The account was summarily closed by the online provider…..

What do you think?


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