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We reached out to Dave Tomar, a former essay mill writer and author of The Shadow Scholar, an exposé of contract...
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Contract cheating is any work someone does for a student (whether paid or unpaid or as a trade for services) that they then represent as their own. It can be:
Contract cheating is a form of academic misconduct, even if it isn’t an act of plagiarism. It is an extreme behavior that students undertake at great risk. So what is going through students’ heads when they engage in contract cheating?
That’s an excellent question. You know who has the answer? Essays mills.
In a brief ten minute search of Essay Mills’ websites, we observed messaging that was either nurturing or empathetic:
Or, it reassured students that purchasing a paper was normal, not deviant, behavior:
These messages contain words that a stressed student under deadline might be thirsty to hear. Who isn’t receptive to the words “care” or “relax” or “easy” while under pressure? These are nods of reassurance. These are empathetic messages that essay mills send out to students. In parallel, essay mills also influence students into thinking contract cheating is normal and prevalent, which they enforce with messages like “plagiarism-free” and “returning customers,” as well as testimonials from said customers.
Want to address contract cheating at your institution? Learn more about Turnitin Originality.