A Writer’s Life

The writing life — it ain’t always easy. People tend to think anyone can write, and in some respects that’s true.

However, next time you think this, take a look at comments on Facebook. Read over an email. Sure, people may not be putting their best efforts out there in these types of communications, but still — writing well just isn’t something that people automatically do well.

From time to time, in my eternal quest for gainful employment, I look online for jobs. Usually, I begin my search by looking for writing jobs.

One writing job genre that I often see is for people to write papers — as in, papers for students in high school or college.

These are usually described as helping out “busy” people. But it always gives me pause. Could I truly feel okay about writing somebody’s college final paper in a course, or even someone’s dissertation? Hey, I could earn $8-22 per page for doing it!

Reviews on such sites by customers are interesting as well. Inevitably, they’ll say that they used the service “because I didn’t have time to write the paper myself.” Hmmmm. Really? I’m wondering what these students were so busy doing. I’m guessing that their use of the service was more about them not being able to earn the grade they wanted themselves rather than being victims of a time crunch. There are frequently mentions of “I got my A!”

Another aspect of this whole issue is that of the teacher. I taught for eight years before “retiring” to home, and it would stress me out if I were a high school teacher to have to consider that some of the papers I was grading might not have been written by the students signing off on them at all.

I asked my daughter, who is an excellent writer in her own right, whether she would work for such a place. “Sure, why not?” she said. I feel it’s definitely wrong to purchase a paper and then turn it in as my own work. What about writing papers for others to buy? It’s more of a gray area, but still, it just doesn’t feel right to me.

Maybe I’m making too big a deal of this. What do you think: is it unethical to work for a site that writes papers for students to buy and submit as their own?

6 thoughts on “A Writer’s Life

  1. I somewhat do that day after day, pretty much for nothing. Is it better for me to basically write something for a student who seemingly lacks the ability or the ambition to do their own? It helps their grade. If you think I know the answer to what I am saying, you are dead wrong. What would you do if you worked with students who cannot spell and seem to have absolutely no writing ability?

  2. Yes, I do believe it is wrong to write papers for others to buy. When a teacher assigns a paper, she is wanting the work of that student, not just to receive a paper just to fulfill an obligation.

    True story: when I was in college, almost every class required a research paper. In one of my classes, the teacher said she used to, until one time when a student hid somewhere in the middle of his paper the sentence, “If you see this sentence, I’ll buy you a Coke.” She didn’t see it because she just basically checked off whether the student did the papers or not. He called her on it and showed her the sentence. She came to believe that it was wrong to ask her students to do an assignment that she did not have time to sincerely read and critique, so she stopped assigning research papers. I do think teachers have an obligation to assign meaningful homework and then to take the time to genuinely critique it. I can almost understand a student buying a paper to fulfill a meaningless requirement, though I still think it is dishonest and couldn’t condone it.

    As for students who can’t spell or write, as Attic Girl mentioned, I think you have to start where they are and work on those skills. For people with learning disabilities, educators need to come up with different ways to teach them. I heard of a student once who could excel on tests given verbally, but not when when he had to read the questions and write the answers. Thankfully he had a teacher willing to give tests verbally, but most teachers and schools don’t have the time to do that kind of thing. That’s one way in which home schooling excels: teaching can be adapted to the learning style of the student instead of having to fit into the cookie cutter situation most classroom instruction has to be (and I say that not necessarily as a home school enthusiast: we only home-schooled for four years and my children and I both liked the traditional Christian school setting, but I think home schooling does have a lot of good qualities). But I think this is a different situation than the average student who can write a paper but doesn’t want to and buys one from somewhere else. I think there are some students that you can’t realistically require a paper of, and perhaps they can be assigned another project (or perhaps dictate their thoughts to someone else who can write them), but encouraging dishonesty is not the answer.

    Sorry to be so wordy in your comment section. 🙂

  3. Well as a college librarian working with adults returning to college–nearly all of whom never had a college prep course in high school, haven’t read anything since high school (if then) and who want a “degree” and not an “education” there are days when I wish they WOULD buy a paper. UGH! My “review” of their paper or that done by our online tutoring agency [an EXCELLENT resource that more colleges should use by the way] I might as well be writing it for them since : a) I did their research with them (I did it, they watched), b) I re-wrote nearly every sentence, c) I’m responsible for the “big words,” d) I interpreted the assignment and put it into words they could understand, e) I “helped” them with every citation (I did them). Unethical? For a failing student, with no concept of what’s going on? I don’t think so. Is my school a “degree mill?” Not at all. We are open admission like every community college and most branch campuses of state universities. We give them a chance to try again. SOME (few) really DO learn from this and “get it” finally–adults know more than they think they do. It helps overcome their insecurities and the years and years of awful schooling, disrespect and self doubt. Can theses students then compete with those earning a Harvard MBA? No, but that’s not the point. They come out far better educated than they came in. But here’s the thing: ALMOST NO ONE writes a paper on the job. It’s a hoop to jump thru. ALMOST NO ONE does research on their job, nor do they cite research. Not even nurses unless they write a conference paper and, guess what? Their hospital employs a librarian for that very reason.

    My response then is mixed: It is a violation of every academic code of ethics to buy a paper, yet fraternities and sororities have had paper files since before my grandfather landed at Purdue in 1922. When I was at I.U. it was so blatant that the library, with university approval, opened a file of such papers for the Independent students. Ditto test files. When it is a boy bound for law school who rides on the Little 5 bike team with Greek Letters on his shirt then its just “boys will be boys.” When its an adult, finally realizing they really DO need to go to college, then its a punishable offense. I think we need to scrap the whole write a paper thing, or make it optional. Exam or Paper. In large universities they have these choices a lot by offering courses in a subject just for “non-majors.” In your major you write papers. Otherwise, just take the test.

    Ok Susan, I highjacked your post! Sorry. Maybe I’ll make it a post of my own! lol…..

  4. It is morally and ethically wrong to write a paper for someone who then turns it in as his/her own. Period!

  5. All of your responders have made some very good points! For me it is a bit of a gray area, because so many papers are just busywork never to be read seriously. However, I would not buy such a paper myself, nor would I write one for someone else. While it is easy for me to write such a paper, my conscience prevents me from doing so.

Thanks for taking the time to comment. I enjoy hearing your thoughts.