Internet Plagiarism

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Internet Plagiarism "I am an Evil House of Cheat subscriber. Ever since I've had access to your service my grade in English 102 has gone from an 'F' to a 'B.' I use the cheathouse for other classes too, like Philosophy and history. Thank you for saving my butt— A happy anonymous user." Testimonials trumpet across Evil House of Cheat's Web site (, gushing praise for this racket, which lets online clients download their pick of more than 1000 previously written term papers for free. "Super Users" who ante up $19.95 a year get full clearance to an additional 1000-plus essays locked into the site's database. Evil House of Cheat is among the 100 or more Web sites currently found on the Internet that allow students to download archived or custom-written papers. Some students cut and paste portions of these to create an entirely new document. Term paper mills run somewhat like co-ops and typically solicit essays from students, who post their work, bibliographies and citations included, at no charge. Commercial sites, on the other hand, jettison any association with their term paper­mill country cousins by calling themselves "research companies" and often supplement student submissions by hiring professional writers to pen tailor-made term papers for clients. Price tags for these "reference materials" can range from about $27.50 to $1000 an essay. As clever as it may sound, plagiarizing via the Internet is a fresh riff on the traditional practice of fraternities and sororities offering members term paper files to sift through by subject or instructor. But now, teachers who may have previously cross-examined suspicious students by asking them to orally dissect their term paper's argument are now funneling college and university funds toward Internet-based antiplagiarism services and software. This means instructors and students are wielding the same weapon, the World Wide Web, in this cyber brouhaha. For teachers, a grudging reliance on technology coexists with the reality that some students are genuinely unaware that information must be attributed when it is culled from a clearinghouse like the Internet— just as when it is taken from a newspaper or an encyclopedia. The boundaries between research and cheating are becoming increasingly ambiguous. "One time I was teaching a summer version of my class and a student turned in bits and pieces of information on Captain Ahab that she had downloaded off, I kid you not, [a term paper mill].

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