A CBC News investigation has revealed how fast and convenient it is to purchase a custom academic essay that can go undetected by university professors and plagiarism software.
The word paper was purchased through a custom that is self-described writing service that is based in Toronto but serves post-secondary students across Canada.
The real-life assignment was given by the Ryerson University school of nursing, which decided to analyze the purchased essay.
“It was very disturbing for me, because I would personally expect to see this paper,” said Corinne Hart, a co-employee professor of nursing at Ryerson, who assigns the essay in a year course that is third. “Now personally i think really suspicious about other papers.”
Academic integrity experts say businesses that sell custom-written papers are proliferating around the world. Additionally there are concerns that the ongoing companies are becoming bolder and more sophisticated because they grow.
“I see these as predatory companies,” said John Paul Foxe, director of Ryerson University’s academic integrity office.
“They will go in terms of to state, ‘If you build relationships us, you aren’t cheating, you’re not doing anything wrong, you will not get caught.'”
That practice happens to be dubbed “contract cheating” within the integrity field that is academic.
While universities and colleges don’t allow students to submit work that is not their own, companies that sell custom essays are fully legal in Canada.
Essay company explains just how to hand it in
During a concealed camera interview at an essay writing store in Toronto, a representative said the organization wouldn’t normally sell a paper to a student who meant to submit the paper as his or her own work.
The business, which can be one of many in Toronto alone, insists so it provides work for “research purposes” and buyers must sign a contract agreeing not to submit the act as their particular.
However, the staff member also explained how some minor alterations towards the purchased essay would make it fit for submission.
“You just take it and paraphrase it to your words that are own that eliminates any issue with plagiarism,” said the employees member. “then you definitely can not say you used someone else’s work as your own.”
The organization guarantees that its papers are produced by native English speakers who have masters or doctorate-level degrees in relevant disciplines, and that each paper is a new and original piece of content tailored towards the assignment that is specific.
The business said many of its customers use the purchased essays as helpful information to assist them to produce their own work.
“a whole lot of individuals do not know just how to write papers, they don’t know APA format, in addition they don’t know how to cite things,” said the employees member.
Based on the company’s website, this has produced more than 100,000 custom essays over the past 18 years.
“I’ve seen it around, i understand those who utilize it,” said University of Toronto student Fatima Zafar, standing near a light standard covered in an essay company’s flyers.
“Sometimes friends joke about this, but I’m not sure if they are for real or perhaps not,” said York University student Pedro Charneca.
The paper obtained by CBC News was written on the subject of gun violence in Toronto. It did not raise any warning flag in a analysis that is brief nursing professors.
The essay was eight pages long, took 7 days to professional college essay writing services write and cost $226 before taxes.
Hart said she likely will give it a B or B-, while nursing program director Nancy Walton said it looked to her like a B+ paper.
“that it was even suspicious of being a contract cheating paper, it would not have occurred to me,” Walton said if I had read this without knowing.
“We would never want to think that a nursing student is engaging in contract cheating, but i assume . I truly may well not know.”
Academic integrity experts say too little awareness and research also offers managed to make it difficult to combat contract cheating.
Every semester, the actual number of students buying papers is practically impossible to determine while essay writing companies plaster university and college campuses with flyers.
A 2018 study by Swansea University in Wales unearthed that contract cheating has been self-reported historically by 3.5 per cent of students. Foxe said he believes the problem likely is more widespread.
“I would expect that it is somewhat higher than that,” he said of the figures that are self-reported. “By virtue of the fact that these businesses are expanding in the rate they may be expanding, that tells us why these businesses have customers.”
Foxe said he regularly deals with contract issues that are cheating. In certain cases that are recent he said, the essay writing companies have even tried to blackmail students by threatening to report them unless they pay additional fees.
While experts acknowledge that online use of these ongoing services is widespread, they say that cracking down on the businesses operating within Canada’s borders might be effective.
The Academic Integrity Council of Ontario (AICO), an organization that represents 30 universities and colleges, is calling on the provincial government to make essay writing services illegal.
“we are a bit behind the times here in Canada,” said Amanda McKenzie, AICO’s former chair, who also works at the University of Waterloo.
McKenzie said laws targeting essay writing companies have now been successfully introduced in New Zealand and Australia, where a lot more than 70 post-secondary students were expelled in a contract cheating scandal in 2015.
She said companies in Canada should no longer be allowed to operate underneath the guise of providing “research” assistance.
“They already know that students are going to take that material and probably around turn it and submit it,” McKenzie said. “It’s why the student stumbled on them to start with.”
Hart agreed, and said any measures to cut down on cheating and dishonesty must be pursued, particularly in a field where graduates have significant responsibilities for health and safety that is public.
“As nursing students they truly are looking after people, and there is an expectation of ethics and of truth telling and all sorts of of those ideas that buying a paper basically negates.”
A spokesperson for the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities said officials are aware of the issue, but that it should be addressed by institutions and individual students in a statement to CBC Toronto. There aren’t any plans to introduce legislation targeting the ongoing companies, the spokesperson said.