August: plagiarism is today’s theme

A chilling anonymous article in the Times Higher Education of 1 August 2013 describes the work of a ‘freelance ghost-writer’ who writes essays and dissertations to order, with little risk of discovery. All writers are carefully vetted by the agency (they must be Oxbridge or elite UK Russell group graduates and submit sample assignments before being accepted for work) and rely mainly on Wikipedia and Google books to write assignments for a pre-specified grade, as outstanding work submitted by a mediocre student would raise suspicion.  The ghost writer is well-versed in avoiding plagiarism detection services, which in any case, since these assignments are personalised for each client, are unlikely to show up through Turnitin or other software.  Some clients are lazy, others are desperate and yet others know their written English isn’t up to scratch to get good marks. From time spelling errors or short poorly written sections are added in, just as a cabinet maker faking antiques will rough up the edges of a piece of furniture to age it.  [Plaigiarised straight from Sally Brown this afternoon, who is presently writing her new book alongside me!]