This page considers 'term paper mills' or 'essay mills'.
It covers -
supplements the more detailed discussion of plagiarism
(including plagiarism detection services) and diploma
It also supplements the exploration of online education.
The online plagiarism industry involves -
services that facilitate appropriation
services that facilitate identification of plagiarism.
Businesses that provide essays (or even sit exams for
students) have been active in Europe, the Americas and
elsewhere since at least the 1880s.
Electronic publishing via the net has, however, enabled
the emergence of online 'term paper mills' - an online
payment of around US$40 gets an essay on the subject of
your choice from vendors such as SchoolSucks,
("if your professor can have a research assistant,
why can't you?") and The Evil House of Cheat.
Those mills are an illustration that the net does not
necessarily result in disintermediation.
Maureen Roszkowski's page
points to around 75 other mills, although the aptly-named
DownCrap.com seems to have gone offline.
Kenny Sahr, proprietor of SchoolSucks.com, claims that
"they're the only ones besides casinos or porn really
making money on the Internet".
size and shape
The number of such sites is uncertain, although there
have been suggestions that around 90 mills were active
in the US in 1998, up from 28 during the preceding year.
The industry appears to be volatile and shares some of
the characteristics of the ISP and adult content sectors,
with most traffic going to a few high profile sites and
small operators entering the market each year only to
disappear after a short time. What appears to have been
the Australian site with the highest profile - Whereitsat.com.au
- is now offline.
Some of the sites were established up by students on a
quasi-commercial basis, essentially as opportunities to
swap papers with costs being offset by advertising.
Others appear to have a more commercial orientation, with
consumers paying on a per-item or annual subscription
basis for access to papers that have been provided by
other students (usually for a small fee).
economics and marketing
Per item charges range from about US$10 per paper (average
four pages with five citations) to around US$10 per page
for a longer document.
sites will provide a customised text for a higher fee,
reminiscent of the 'ghosting'
of dissertations, magazine articles and books popular
in the US last century - John F Kennedy's first book,
for example, is now considered to have involved substantial
"assistance" and Ronald Reagan famously quipped
about his autobiography
hear it's a terrific book! One of these days I'm going
to read it myself
of the sites charge a premium for online delivery.
As with the adult content
industry, the site operators will bill the user's credit
card using an innocuous corporate name.
The quality of the content varies but, overall, appears
to be low. Schoolsucks' proprietor Sahr reportedly quipped
doesn't say on the papers 'A plus' or 'A minus' or anything.
In fact, I think a lot of them stink.
jurisdictions prohibit the sale of papers that will be
improperly submitted as a student's work. Most commercial
sites accordingly feature disclaimers indicating that
the text should be used only for research purposes and
not submitted as a student's own work.
PaperCamp.com thus claims
can be quite difficult at times coming up with ideas
for termpapers or essays. Students are oftenly struck
with a case of writer's block. Thinking for hours and
hours to no avail. Your final grade could be based on
the essays and termpapers you have to write through
the course of the semester. For those who have had trouble
writing them, they can be in jeopardy of failing the
At PaperCamp.com, we provide students access to hundreds
of free termpapers in addition to essays in thirteen
categories, covering hundreds of topics. All have been
submitted by high school and college students who would
like to help struggling peers. The intent of these papers
is not for you to plagiarize from them, but to act as
examples of how you might want to go about writing your
Jared Silvermintz of Genius Papers commented in 2002 that
way we want people to use this is as a research database.
But as far as how it's actually used, I'm sure there's
a ton of kids using it for plagiarism.
Schoolsucks.com spokesperson characterised it in 2006
as "a peer-to-peer study group"; presumably
someone will soon tag such sites as Web
Essaytown.com delightfully wraps itself in the flag in
the last 5 years, the American research industry has
become infested with low-quality, fraudulent, foreign
companies seeking to make a quick dollar by deceiving
unsuspecting customers in the United States. These
bogus Web sites from Pakistan, Romania, Ukraine, and
the Phillipines use their suspiciously low prices and
false promises to lure American students into their
traps. You should never have to worry about receiving
a low-quality, improperly-formatted, outdated, recycled,
plagiarized paper with countless errors in spelling
and grammar. In contrast, our professional, AMERICAN
writers produce new papers on an individual basis, so
our research materials are unique, original, technically
precise, and up-to-date. The information below
explains why you MUST AVOID all foreign sites, subscription
sites, membership sites, free sites, and database sites.
Elizabeth Hall Associates gained attention in 2002. The
Guardian reported that Hall responded to an email
inquiry with news that
would be very happy to write a series of essays for
you, and complete the final year of your degree. I am
sending to you my charges, which you may notice have
risen since beginning [sic] of the year.
I offer you absolute confidentiality and in no circumstance
would I reveal to anyone our contract. You need not
worry that the authorities would discover the work was
not your own. In some cases I can, if felt necessary
[sic] that the work I am writing might be seen as above
the grade that could be attained by the student, actually
build in material which I know is incorrect, so that
the grade achieved does not cause any alarm or question
around the authorship ...
Some students have achieved first-class degrees through
my writing for them and they have not in any way or
at any stage encountered any query from their tutors
charged £40 per hour to write essays for undergrad
degrees, £45 per hour for Masters courses and £50
per hour for PhDs, with an extra £10 per hour for
texts needed within five working days. Students were asked
to sign a disclaimer acknowledging that "any material
provided by Elizabeth Hall Associates [is] on the understanding
that it is a guidance model only".
By 2006 the fees appear to have increased and the business
is the Premier UK Ghostwriting Service with clients
worldwide, specialise in customised one-off academic
writing not detectable by anti-plagiarism software.
Competitor Oxbridge Essays, launched in 2005 to provide
model essays, dissertations, covering letters, CVs and
revision notes by Oxbridge students and graduates, ingeniously
offered a sponsorship scheme for students. They
will spend time each month writing about areas of academic
interest. For a £5,000 per year sponsorship a student
will guarantee to carry out £4,500 worth of work
and will receive £500 as a gift. A 2,000 word model
essay will apparently earn the author between £500
A Universities UK spokesperson reportedly commented that
Essays claim that students pay hundreds of pounds for
model answers which they then do not submit as their own
work. We think that claim, along with similar claims made
by other essay websites, is absurd. Plagiarism devalues
the efforts of students who work hard to achieve their
degrees. It also damages the student who commits plagiarism,
as they will not benefit from the research and learning
company indicates that its terms & conditions unambiguously
oppose plagiarism. Clients are advised to check with their
institution whether they need to reference use of Oxbridge
Some students have presumably decided not to bother going
through the charade of "subcontracted learning"
and have simply purchased illicit
degrees from real or fake universities.
Detection services are explored
in the discussion, elsewhere on this site, of plagiarism.
Most of those services involve teachers submitting electronic
versions of student essays to an institutional or commercial
database for comparison with a collection of 'reference'
documents. Some services include comparison with journal
articles, conference papers and other documents that have
been published on the web. That publication includes items
that are freely available and items held behind commercial/institutional
firewalls (eg on a subscription basis).
Some marketing claims are problematical. Most services
appear to be effective in detecting exact matches but
falter when the source document has been modified. The
greater the modification, the more difficult it is to
detect a copied paper.Some services also report false
positives, for example confusing legitimate quotation
with appropriation of an existing paper or publication.
Academic uptake of plagiarism-detection services has been
reflected in the growth of services that claim to provide
One for example, under the image of a student saying "Damn!
Now I'll have to cancel my Staurday [sic] night date to
finish my essay before the Monday deadline", shrills
Provide A-Grade Essays and Term Papers That Are:
• Custom-written on your specified topic
• Completely non-plagiarized
• Written by our experienced writers
• Delivered before your deadline
• All that for just $9.95 per page
Regulatory issues have at least three aspects -
using essay mills services in breach of institutional
advertising and non-delivery of services
of an author's work
August 2005 US graduate student Blue Macellari sued R2C2
(operator of the DoingMyHomework.com, FreeforEssays.com
and FreeforTermPapers.com services) for unauthorised sale
of a paper that she had published on her personal site
She charged R2C2 with copyright infringement, consumer
fraud (falsely claiming to own the copyright), invasion
of privacy and potentially damaging her reputation by
implying that she had submitted the paper herself.
Term paper mills - and more broadly cheating by students
- have been assailed as a peculiarly modern phenomenon,
one of unprecedented severity or a reflection of a broader
'cheating culture' discussed in contemporary jeremiads
such as David Callahan's
The Cheating Culture: Why More Americans Are Doing
Wrong To Get Ahead (New York: Harcourt 2004) and
Student Cheating & Plagiarism to the Internet Era:
A Wake-Up Call for Educators & Parents (New York:
Libraries Unlimited 2000) by Ann Lathrop & Kathleen Foss.
They are replete with laments such as -
individualism of the '60s turned toxic as it was stripped of its initial liberating
purposes and as positive '60s values like social responsibility
- which had counterbalanced the new individualism -
lost traction in popular culture. Young people became
more cynical and materialistic. The nation drifted without
a strong sense national purpose - stuck, it seemed,
in an intractable malaise
Those claims are problematical, given indications that
students have sought to avail themselves of 'shortcuts'
where available in the past and that cheating has been
entrenched in 'best & brightest' institutions such
as the US West Point military academy. Student misbehaviour
is not restricted to online mills.
In 2005 the NSW Board of Studies for example, which is
responsible for secondary school examinations, announced
that it was considering legal action against tutoring
colleges accused of accepting up to $5,000 from students
to write course work assessments.
In 2004 it disciplined 34 students for passing off other
people's work as their own, including stripping five secondary
school students of all marks in a subject. The Board commented
that buying work - from a tutor or peer - is "not
widespread", although it is unclear whether much
misbehaviour is simply undetected.
In 2008 a UK court sentenced Jerome Drean and Elnar Askerov
to nine months imprisonment, suspended for two years,
after Drean took £20,000 for posing as Askerov.
Drean had sat an economics exam at the University of York
in Askerov's place, using a false ID card bearing his
own photo but Askerov's name. Both pleaded guilty to "conspiracy