Monday, May 11, 2009

Term Paper? Essay? Help Is at Hand

The bad kind of bold: a website called Free Essays that offers 32,000 "Free Essays for All Students."

The student who is eager for knowledge can find a paper on any of a huge and sometimes hilarious selection of subjects. For example: "Plagerism" (sic). And a search for papers that deal with personal courage turned up 317 choices, one labelled Values.

Click on PeerPapers on this site and you'll find an archive of 190,000. "Less Work, More Weekend" is the slogan. Browsers are informed that using one of these papers as a guide is not plagiarism, copying it is.

Type in the keyword "honor," and a list of an even 1,000 essays and term papers comes up. One of them begins: "Why do students cheat? This is an age-old question...."

It's even possible to find a paper on "Why I Want to Become a Nurse." Surely, if one wants to be a nurse, one is the authority on why.

...Though I once knew a man whose first writing success was a grade school personal essay on the assignment "Why I Love the Detroit Symphony." He was having trouble writing it. His much-older sister helped him with it a lot. He won a highly-publicized award for the work. His sister asked him if he had any doubts about accepting full credit. He absolutely did not. He went on to become a respected novelist.

I doubt if his story is typical.

A few other ironic topics in the essay libraries:
Critical Thinkin (sic)
The Time I Made a Fool of Myself
Are We More Creative Today
How People Learn

And some charmingly specialized ones:
Slime Molds
Raving Is A Lifestyle
Biotreatment Of Wastewater Using Aquatic Invertebrates, Daphnia Magna And Paramecium Caudatum
Pear Culturing in India
Krispy Kreme Doughnuts, Inc.

Visitors are invited to donate papers and to alert headquarters if any papers on the sites are discovered to be of questionable quality.

Custom essays are available starting at $19.95 a page.

Approximately 368,000 google searches were done in April for the phrase "term paper" and over 9 million for "essay."

This rant is making me feel like a back-in-my-day old blowhard. So I'm doing a search for a paper on the hackneyed "old-fart" question: what's the world coming to? All I get was a paper on Mad Cow Disease.

So I look up "hookups" and get an essay: "Is The Traditional Date Dying" It's worth a visit.

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mamie said...

Peggy, I lead a discussion group at the book store that uses a lot of short story collections. In researching the stories and authors, I run across these sites all the time. At first, I was excited at all the responses I got to my inquiries--until I realized that I had to PAY for the information!

This phenom has led to a new job for professors and their TAs: tracking down sources to ferret out those who plagarize from the internet. But isn't this so much easier than it would have been wtihout the internet? You can put whole sentences in your search and find the exact paper they copied!

Peggy Payne said...

You're right. It's very trackable.

Debra W said...

This is sad on so many levels.

Peggy Payne said...

It is. And it brought back some writing assignments I got as a kid that never should have been assigned. Either too sophisticated or asked for too much disclosure for a kid to turn in to a teacher.

I remember an 8th grade health class where I was assigned to describe in FIVE PAGES! how I wanted to be in ten years, referring only to personal qualities, not job or relationships. I thought I'd die.

Mojo said...

One thing about the dating essay you linked to that might make it attractive is that it might not occur to a teacher that you'd copy such shoddy writing. The down side is that if you were to turn this in for an English assignment, you probably wouldn't get a very good grade. The content and thesis are good enough, but the structure isn't going to pass muster with any of the English teachers I had. Even in high school.

Still, it might not occur to the teacher that you bought this one, and you still get more weekend. So if the grade doesn't matter to you...

Peggy Payne said...

It was the content rather than the style that interested me. The papers I glanced at didn't wow me. I have an idea the ones with titles like journal articles might be better; but why would someone doing better work pass it on like this?