TheRealSharon's Blog











{September 4, 2011}   Cheating for a Career

We all have heard of people cheating by plagiarizing, getting others to do their papers for them and paying for papers online(which seems to be the newest thing). But recently I read an article entitled, “The Cheating Epidemic”, that shocked and disturbed me completely.

A “ghost writer” is a person who writes for another person who is presumed to be the author. Many celebrities use ghost writers to do their biographies or books for them. They do this usually through recording conversations with the celebrity or even taking their written words and editing them and thus, turning them into a book. I knew about this and although, it seemed partly unfair for the ghostwriter to go unnoticed, I do not consider this cheating because it’s the celebrity’s story in the book, the ghost writer simply tells it in a neat and orderly way.

I also knew of sites online where people can pay fees to buy papers that are already done for them. Those papers are obviously done by a “ghostwriter” that doesn’t get credit for it. I never personally used these types of sites but I considered them cheating and I’ve always been big on honesty. Admittedly, I’ve always been fairly comfortable with writing, so papers never scared me like some other people I knew. I wasn’t surprised to read that people were willing to pay hundreds or even thousands to acquire papers through these means, but I found it shocking how many actually do. Even more shocking were the TYPES of people that HAVE used ghost writers to do not only papers but online testing for them. I was flabbergasted to find out that there are people out there with legitimate PhD”s and Bachelor’s, etc. who have cheated their way into getting these degrees!

The author used a pseudonym and his article, that I found in a Reader’s Digest, was taken directly from The Chronicle of Higher Education. He started out by telling about a particular request that came to him at one time from someone he had helped before. This student was asking for a proposal for her business ethics class. Wow, I thought to myself. A business ETHICS student cheating…

The “author” works for an online company that makes tens of thousands of dollars doing papers for college students. The staff at his company, at the time of the article, was about 50 writers and still not enough to manage the requests. He estimates he will make about $66,000 this year alone. According to this article, the New York Times reported 61% of undergrads last summer have admitted to SOME kind of cheating.

But wait until you hear some of the stuff this particular ghost writer has actually written!

“I’ve written toward a master’s degree in cognitive psychology, a PhD in sociology, and a handful of postgraduate credits in international diplomacy. I’ve worked on bachelor degrees in hospitality, business administration, and accounting. I’ve written for courses in history, cinema, labor relations,pharmacology,theology,sports management,maritime security,airline services,sustainability,municipal budgeting,marketing,philosophy,ethics, Eastern religion,postmodern architecture,anthropology,literature, and public administration. I’ve completed 12 graduate theses of 50 pages or more. But you won’t find my name on a single paper.”

Reading all of THAT, it sounds to me like this author should have a degree in a majority of this stuff himself. But then I think about people who work in these industries and wonder how many are actually qualified for what they now do? Even though I only have a simple Associate’s in Theatre, it seems a big slap in the face to know that some people are working highly paid jobs and they didn’t do the work to get into that position. Somehow I could expect people going into politics to be cheaters, that seems to fit the job well, but people going into ETHICS? THEOLOGY?

So then I wondered is it just lazy people who cheat? People that might actually have the intellect but are too lazy? No. Turns out the author cites three specific demographics as the ones that seek him out the most: “The English-as-second-language student, the hopelessly deficient student, and the lazy rich kid.”

For the English as a second language student and the hopelessly deficient, the author blames schools and colleges for letting them down. He says they are failing to put more focus on grades rather than education. If a student isn’t able to master English quick enough(and this goes for kids who were brought up in an English speaking home), they feel they will never make it on their own, so they go to “ghost writers” as a quick and easy fix to mastering it quickly. As for the lazy, rich kid…let’s face it, society seems to reward those with money. Don’t feel like doing something? Pay someone else to do it. This theory seems to have worked for many who have made it to the top, so why not them?

So, people pay for their papers to be done for them? You may be thinking, OK, so they still have to do their own exams, right? Therefore, they can’t get away without learning something. Well, that’s what I thought to. Turns out, not even THAT may be true.

This ghost writer has actually completed various courses for others through using THEIR user names and passwords. He has completed exams this way and even done weekly discussions with the other students. He has also provided several students with their admissions essays. Astounding. Any of this disturbing YOU as it did me?

What kinds of students does he work with the most? You will probably be as surprised as I was when I tell you. He admits to doing work for seminary students, who despite their goal, don’t seem to think of cheating as wrong. “Nursing students account for one of my company’s biggest customer bases.” I am seriously crossing my fingers right now that this is just out of being purely dead tired from their crazy shifts and NOT a sign of an overabundance of non-skilled nurses in the future. He also cites teachers as a big base, which saddens me deeply because the state of America’s education system is bad enough already.

How did he get into this line of work? He was a writer, bored of his college classes and turned down on his idea of doing an independent study around editing and publishing his first novel. His classmates saw in him what the university failed to see and started paying him for doing papers. He was good at it and it was a way to make good money. So far, he has never heard of even one of his customers getting caught.

So why did he decide to come forward and tell his story NOW? In his words: “I’m planning to retire. I’m tired of helping make America’s students look competent.”

Sadly, there will still be many other ghost writers out there getting paid to do the hard work for college students. While more colleges seem to be getting tougher about cracking down on cheating, you wonder if they will ever be able to stop people paying others to do their OWN papers? I don’t see that they will ever be able to, but in a dream world, there would be people who would refuse to continue paying. People who were honest and ethical who would put a stop to this through ending the demand, thereby doing away with the need for supply.

Besides, if this sort of thing doesn’t end soon, who would be educated enough to even DO the papers for those willing to pay?

But maybe THAT would also be a good thing cause then students would be forced to actually learn and do their OWN work!

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I’ve done some ghost writing, but not for students. It was mostly rewrites of little blurbs about various websites to help them get higher rankings on internet searches. Some of it was writing blog posts for companies. I received the money; they received the credit :/ I’m finally starting to get to a point where I can be a bit picky with the gigs I accept . . . several months ago, that was definitely not the case.

That being said, I refuse to write papers for students. One of the many, many sites I have joined is LivePerson.com. You can sign up as an expert in anything from writing to tarot cards to relationship advice. I was hoping to acquire clients who were looking for people to proofread and edit their work. Instead, I found every single posting to be a student looking for someone to write his or her paper. I completely refuse to do it. Not only as a writer, but as a former educator — I just cannot overcome my ethical issues, no matter what they offer to pay me!

The sad thing is that it’s really easy (and kind of understandable) for writers to turn to this kind of work. There are so many gigs out whose offers are like a slap in the face. I actually applied to an editing job the other day and when I received a response, I found out that they pay 30 cents per 500 article. When you have people who are trying to support a family on a writing career, it’s really easy to turn to whatever will help you do that. If it came down to being able to put food in my daughter’s mouth, I can’t promise that my ethics would hold up.

It is definitely disturbing. I may be overly optimistic, but my feelings are that they can’t continue to cheat throughout their careers and if they are really that unqualified, someone will quickly notice and they won’t have a job for long. I hope.

(I don’t know if you read my NCLB blog, but the supervisor I mentioned — it was rumored that she forged her degree — which would not surprise me — so I’m sure some do slip through the cracks :/)



I can see why someone WOULD do it for the money. I don’t necessarily blame the ones who HAVE done this before….at least they are working hard for THEIR money even if it does cross an ethical line. The ones asking for the papers to be completely done for them, not just edited, I think those are the ones that really have the ethical problem.



Ok, wow. I just wrote a really long comment . . . like, it probably could have been a blog post all on its own . . . and now it’s just not here! ::Sigh::



It was in my spam box for some reason but I took it out 🙂



Yay! I just came back to try and rewrite my response and then I saw that it was here 🙂 . . . Maybe it went to spam because it was so long?



I don’t know, I thought I had my spam filter fixed to only send responses there if it’s the FIRST comment from a new person and you have commented before, so I really don’t know why it sent it there.



The Hook says:

Very creative, ORIGINAL post!
Great topic to explore, especially if you’re a blogger.



Thanks! I found the topic very interesting to blog about. 🙂



ElizOF says:

Excellent piece and one that remains rampant everywhere… I’m impressed that the writer covered so many subjects and topics… He must be brilliant at it. I have to say the nursing and seminary students surprised me the most… and the business ethics student? Now that was food for thought. TY! Sharon. 🙂



I found that part of it very impressive myself….I enjoy blogging and writing quite a bit but I don’t know if I could research all those kinds of topics for any amount of money…I think I would be really bored having to learn about so many topics that didn’t interest me just to do papers for money….AND then not to get credit for any of it? Forget that!
I’m glad you liked my post, it was a very interesting topic to blog about, indeed! 😀



Judith says:

I knew about ghost writers of course. I also knew that one could get pages for their website written for them. I once went into one of these sites and paid very little for a page. And I am glad it was so little because what I got back was rubbish. The English was deplorable to say the least. So now it’s just me writing.
Great that you have brought this out into the open. As you say how many people out their with degrees, postgrads etc haven’t truly earned them? Scary isn’t it?



Yes, it truly is. I must say, having seen YOUR writing, I don’t think you need any help from anyone. You are great with the English language(better than me, for sure!) and your writing is a joy to read! 🙂



Judith says:

Well English language was my major i and apart from that I have had so many more years of practice. You are doing well with your writing. Just keep at it.



Wow that’s especially scary that people getting their masters came to him to write their theses…that is really bad. You’d think if they were that lazy they’d just go for a job that doesn’t require a masters if they weren’t planning to do all the work necessary for it.



rabia says:

phew!!!…that does it for me i guess. i read the same piece just a few hours ago in reader’s digest. ironically enough, i have just been appointed as a ghost writer and have not yet received a “job”. the article definitely disturbed me alot so i decided to google about it only to find your blog. am happy to c there are others in my boat too.
imagine a thief stealing to feed his family, or more absurdly to help the poor in his community…..would we then name his doings as social work and not stealing??…not likely!!
thanks a lot for the blog dear. everyone one can count me out of ghost writing even before i had gone in!!:):)



You’re welcome, I just found the story very interesting and thought provoking and thought I would share! 🙂



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