Global essay mills: What do you think of this new-media innovation?

Need a term paper, book report, or even a Ph.D. dissertation? Don’t have the time or interest to write it?
    No problem.
    There are plenty of online services that will produce and sell you a custom essay. Custom is the operative term here. It means the essay is original. Plagiarism software—now widely used by educators—cannot detect it.
    This week, we’re looking at academic integrity. Today, we focus on an innovative use of the Internet to provide an old service—paying someone to write an essay or paper for a class assignment.
    Essay mills are not new. One could always find a shop where writers-for-hire would pen a paper for a fee. But the Internet has raised the practice to a new level. The process is now much more sophisticated and global, says Thomas Bartlett, a reporter for the Chronicle of Higher Education.
    In his fascinating article in the Chronicle, he describes the inner workings of essay mills, focusing on one that seems to be an exemplar: it claims to be headquartered in Virginia but is actually based in the Philippines. The service is run by folks in the Ukraine, uses freelance writers in India and Pakistan, and provides thousands of students with custom essays. Now that’s a global business. (In addition to Bartlett’s article, you can listen to his NPR interview.)
    The article also provides a video tour of an essay mill, an insider’s view of how it looks to writers who are reviewing requests. These requests specify subject, level, style, language, format, delivery date, and more. Return customers qualify for discounts.
    I spent some time looking at other essay mills on the web. Some are quite sophisticated. Others advertise their services in stilted and improper English—not exactly the way to inspire confidence in the quality of their essays!
    What do you think of this modern form of academic cheating? Have you witnessed it? Do you know any freelance writers for these services? Or anyone who has paid for a custom essay?

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