GO LOCAL PDX: Inside the Term Paper Plagiarism for Profit Industry

Career College Central Summary:

  • A Eugene man makes his living off writing term papers, assignments and dissertations for students around the world.  He’s just a small cog in the Essay Mill industry, a term used for the dozens of websites where students can go to commission someone else to do their homework.  While sites operate in the open, professors at colleges and universities say there isn’t much they can do to stop it.
  • Logan Cook is a freelance writer who lives solely off writing midterm assignments and dissertations for students all over the world. 
  • “The longest job I had was 124 pages in 32 hours straight,” he said. “Welcome to my life.”  
  • The internet is packed with websites like EWorld Publishing and Proficient Writers, who offer students stock or custom essays for a price, some costing 30 dollars per double-spaced, 12-point, Times New Roman-font page.   
  • With usually only a two or three day deadline, Cook, an assumed name he used for this article, has become an expert on anything from nursing practices to historical government theories. 
  • “For most assignments, if I can do one page in less than fifteen minutes, preferably in about ten, that’s pretty good,” Cook said.  At that speed he can sometimes make $50 an hour.
  • As a 2009 study in Ethics &Behavior revealed, a shocking 82 percent of college students admit to academic dishonesty. Many college presidents are alarmed with the rising trend of plagiarism, according to a PEW Research Center survey. 
  • Tom Bivins, a media and ethics expert and professor at the University of Oregon, said plagiarists are hard to catch.  Bivins said when he grades papers, sometimes essays can seem too good, but that there are few ways to prove that something isn’t a student’s work if it comes from an original source.
  • “There is literally nothing I can do about it,” Bivins said.  “It’s unethical, but there’s nothing you can do.” 
  • Essay mills act as a middleman between writers and clients. Clients from all over the nation post their requests on the sites like Proficient Writers, listing the assignment specifics and time limit. Cook and other writers then look through the postings via the website’s back end and apply for projects. 
  • The mill picks one writer or the student can request one. Once picked, the writer is held responsible for completing the assignment on time. 
  • Contact with the student depends on the essay mill. Some allow no contact between writer and client, but some give the option for the two communicate, Cook explained. 
  • Writers are paid for the amount of assignments over a two-week period, either through check or PayPal.  However, the essays mills keep a large chunk of the profits, with Cook usually getting 10 dollars a page. 

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