Buy An Essay – Essay Mills And Contract Cheating Pricing (Infographic)

How much does it cost to buy an original bespoke essay from an essay mill or other contract cheating provider?

The cost can vary substantially, even though many essay mills work with the same pool of writers, or at least workers with very similar backgrounds and experience.

This infographic illustrates the range of prices a prospective student would come across when looking to purchase a 2000 word essay.

The pricing, correct as of August 2018, is wide ranging. At the bottom end of the market, workers in the equivalent of essay factory “sweat shops” are expected to toil away for just £3 GBP ($4 USD) (see slide 42 of the link). At the so-called top end, there are companies who won’t even start looking at an essay before a payment of £800 GBP ($1057 USD) is received (source https://www.academicghostwriting.com/costs).

A typical service with UK offices asks for £279 GBP ($369 USD), although there are ways to further discount that price (source https://www.ukessays.com/quote.php).

In one of my own experiments, I connected directly with writers and found that most wanted £15 GBP ($20 USD) to complete the work. Had I proposed a lower price point, I’m sure that the quotes I received would also have been lower. And the typical £15 offer I received is still much more than the writer could expect to end up with had they worked with an essay mill taking their cut.

What About Buying A Dissertation?

Everything about the essay industry is negotiable. Here, for example, an essay mill original quoted a nursing dissertation price at £870 GBP ($1148 USD), but proposed a new price of £600 GBP ($792 USD) when the customer wavered only slightly.

Further discounting would have been possible. As my previous analysis has shown, essay mills pay huge referral bonuses for those affiliates bringing in new customers (see slide 53 of the link). This makes it clear that essay mills have lots of movement on pricing. This still leaves room for them to profit, even after they have paid their writers – an amount for the writer which often works out as a tiny percentage of the amount that the essay mill is paid.

Even though students may pay more (and take on the risk of being scammed or blackmailed) the cost of hiring an essay writer directly is low. Setting assessments that are not easy and cheap to outsource, those “bread and butter” type requests that contract cheating providers love such as basic business assignments and marketing assignments, is of importance for the continued integrity of education.

Addressing Contract Cheating and Other Threats to Academic Integrity – Keynote Presentation at University of Wolverhampton

The world of contract cheating continues to progress. I was asked to speak about this for a keynote address at the University of Wolverhampton, which allowed me to bring together many of the latest findings in the contract cheating and academic integrity fields.

The slides I used are available on my SlideShare account. They are also included below.


During the presentation, I showed how easy how cheap and easy outsourcing is (you can see a video promoting the fictitious essay mill Werewolf Essays here). I also considered how contract cheating companies are now able to get their advertising out through university channels themselves, including university social media accounts.

The presentation was accompanied by lots of questions, including relating to the technology surrounding the academic cheating industry, which is becoming something of a trend at events like this now.

Emerging Issues In Plagiarism Prevention And Detection – My View From 2004

Writing About Plagiarism In 2004

My hard disk contains quite an archive of material I’ve prepared, but which has never seen the light of the day. Some of it is good, some of it deserves to be formally completed, some of it I could never quite work into a shape that I was happy with at the time.

I want to share with you some extracts from a partial paper I wrote in early 2004. All the quoted text is presented, unedited, just I left it in the draft over 13 years ago. Had this paper been completed in a form I was happy with, the choice of words would likely have gone through further fine tuning.

To put these extracts into their historical context as part of my research journey, I completed my PhD on plagiarism detection in 2003. Later that year began working as a Lecturer in Computing at the University of Central England (now known as Birmingham City University).

My working title for the paper was “Fresh Issues in Plagiarism Prevention and Detection” and the paper was constructed to:

discuss the issues that will be relevant to plagiarism prevention and detection in the near future

as well as to:

inform the directions in which it is necessary for future research to proceed

The planned paper ended up taking a back seat with the pressures of adapting to the pressures of a new teaching intensive environment. My subsequent research efforts ended up going in a different direction.

In hindsight, perhaps this paper did deserve to have been completed. My experience is that this type of paper tends to be well-received.

An earlier paper of mine, Plagiarism Issues In Higher Education, which I wrote alongside my PhD, is one of my most cited papers. That is despite this being one of the first papers I wrote – and also one of the easiest to write. I presume that, being introductory in nature, meant that this paper was accessible by a wide audience.

Now, I tend to publish material of this type as blog posts. Perhaps not the best strategy if the results also suitable for citation…

Eight Plagiarism Issues

The draft I wrote in 2004 included updated ideas from my PhD thesis together with observations I’d made during the intervening year.

Here’s what I said in the draft paper…

Eight main issues have been identified that are worthy of further investigation. These include both issues of academic and practical interest.

The issues are:
 
outsourced submissions – has work submitted by a student actually been produced by that student?
 
ownership of work – is it both legal and ethical to submit work from students to detection services.
 
tool usability – there are many technical solutions available to find out if work is similar to another source, but are those tools produced to ease tutor workload?
 
extent of cheating – conflicting evidence exists stating how common cheating is, can parity exist between different subjects and different researchers?
 
policy – how far is reducing the level of plagiarism and the methods to deal with plagiarisers related to appropriate from the upper echelon of an academic institute?
 
earlier exposure – are students plagiarising due to practices accepted in further education being condoned in higher education and, if so, can what are the solutions?>
 
transparency – how far can students see that a due-process is being followed for plagiarism prevention and detection?
 
open source detection – does an institution committing themselves to commercial detection technology hinder them in long term planning?

 
Although my writing style has developed since and I would likely use more supportive language, many of these issues are still equally relevant today.

The issue referred to as outsourced assessment, of course, has been much developed in the form of research into contract cheating. The particular example given, that is authenticating if the author of an assessment solution and the student submitting this for academic credit are the same person, has still not been solved for anything other than very specific cases.

User Experience

I’d like to pick up on one of the 2004 issues as worthy of more immediate attention.

Whether or not software tools for plagiarism detection are optimised for user experience continues to be questionable. The fact that similarity reports are often misinterpreted – and that users cannot always differentiate between similarity and plagiarism, suggests otherwise.

Much valuable progress has been made since 2004 on working with students as academic integrity partners. That includes supporting students in developing their academic writing by providing them with controlled access to appropriate software tools, such as those that show similarity. I have seen far too many tweets where students are boasting about getting their similarity (plagiarism) score down to an unrealistic level.

Improving the usability of support tools, for instance by making the results more readable and the practical steps to take more intuitive, is now important for students too.

The user interfaces for originality checking software tools do not seem to have evolved, in any real sense, since the first commercial providers came onto the market. There is an opportunity for thought leadership here.

One of the major challenges for academics investigating possible non-originality is taking the output from a tool and converting this into a format considered acceptable for a university academic misconduct panel. Often, panels still require information in a printed format and I know of academics who have had to spend many hours laboriously marking sources up by hand. This is an area which is ripe for improving the user experience.

There is certainly the opportunity for a PhD to look at redefining these user interfaces. If you would be interested in working on that area, under my supervision, please contact me and let me know.

I also believe that the potential exists for artificial intelligence techniques to be used to provide personalised help for a user accessing a similarity report. Such AI could be used to consider whether or not similarity is likely to represent plagiarism and where in the document a user should focus their priority (whether this is a student learning academic writing who has forgotten to cite their source, or a tutor investigating possible plagiarism).

Plagiarism Prevention And Detection Issues Of 2017 And 2018

What are the main issues that exist for individuals researching plagiarism prevention and plagiarism detection today? Is it appropriate to consider issues previously identified, such as my ideas from 2004, during the production of a more up to date list?

Which of the many issues then most deserve to be quickly addressed?

Do feel free to share your thoughts using the Comment box at the end of the post.

(and now that I have extracted some value from them, the rest of my outdated materials from “Fresh Issues in Plagiarism Prevention and Detection” can safely be moved to the Recycle Bin)

Exploring The Role Of Indian Workers In The Contract Cheating Market For Essays And Assignments Video Post

There is evidence that workers from India are included in the set of people helping students to commit contract cheating. Although this isn’t an area that we’ve drawn particular attention to in our research, we have been asked by the media to comment on the Indian connection many times in recent years, including in this 2016 article from the Hindustan Times and in this 2016 article from the International Business Times.

The Indian market is one of a number of economies where students can find a writer, programmer or worker willing to complete their work for them. From an economic point of view, a worker of this type can be employed for a price that is cost-effective for the student, but also provides a reasonable wage for the contractor. There are also workers available with a high level of English language ability for written work and technical skills for computing work.

I explore some of the issues related to the international supply of workers, including those workers from India, in this video.

In the video, I also look at an example of a request observed on an outsourcing web site of a student asking to have a statistical assignment completed for them. This falls within the group of assignments which can be completed without necessarily having a perfect knowledge of English.

Out of the 20 people who bid to complete the work for the assignment, 15% of them (3 out of 20), stated in their profile that they were from India. This was the most common country represented, although countries worldwide, with a slight dominance for Asia and Africa, were visible.

One of the Indian bidders had completed 37 projects on the site, of which the majority looked to be Computing assignments. This does demonstrate a subset of workers from India who are using contract cheating as a source of income.

Of course, this example covers only of one assignment, quickly selected, and one worker. A more in-depth analysis would be needed to explore further trends. But, it does appear that the media attention is warranted and there are Indian workers contributing to help students to cheat – just as there are other nationalities doing likewise.

The Contract Cheating Saga Of Crazylarry23

Jonathan Bailey of Plagiarism Today called Crazylarry23 “the stupid plagiarist”.

Mark Graban of Lean Blog seemed surprised that an example of postgraduate level cheating was up on Freelancer.com. He also acknowledged Michel Baudin for originally publicising this attempt at contract cheating, although that blog post no longer seems to be active.

As an academic, who along with Robert Clarke, has collected together a database of over 19,000 attempts at contract cheating, cases like this are not so surprising to us any longer. For the uninitiated, contract cheating occurs when a student gets a third party to produce assessed work for them.

We can trace over 50% of the cases we’ve identified back to the Freelancer.com agency website, as this analysis of observed contract cheating between March 2005 and June 2013 show. This isn’t a completely scientific sample, since Freelancer.com is one of the main sites on our contract cheating radar, but perhaps that’s why Jonathan Bailey labelled anyone using this site to cheat as “stupid”.

More details relating to this data set are academically available in our recent paper, “Commercial Aspects Of Contract Cheating” and several examples are expanded upon in Slides From Recent Talks by Dr. Thomas Lancaster.

The reaction to the case of Crazylarry23 does reflect the lack of publicity that contract cheating has had. In this case, raising awareness is always beneficial to the academic community and the wider industry who will be employing our students in the future.

Mark Graban discusseded two attempts by Crazylarry23, who self-identified himself as Australian, to cheat. One example included an ERP and Lean Manufacturing Essay, which Crazylarry23 insisted would “NOT be plagiarised”. This was outsourced to an author from Pakistan for $50.

Mark Graban also fulfilled the detective role, identified in our research, finding the school in Australia that Crazylarry23 attended. This was near Crazylarry23’s stated location on Freelancer.com, although our own attribution attempts have shown that the listed locations are not always accurate. The spelling of “plagiarised” in this case, backs up the premise that Crazylarry23 was native to Australia.

The role of the detective for contract cheating requests on agency websites often involves looking for trace evidence and small “clues” like these. Despite a number of our successes in identifying and attributing contract cheating cases, the sheer volume of these cheating attempts means that students are getting away with it. The academic community does need access to a semi-automated system to aid in the monitoring, collection of evidence and detective work.

The good news is that Plagiarism Today reports that successful notification of Crazylarry23’s school was made, and since the user has now left Freelancer.com, we can assume that they were identified and penalised. Copies of the bid requests are archived elsewhere based on their RSS feeds for anyone interested. Whether this is the same Crazylarry23 who can be observed to be a keen poker player using a Google search remains to be questioned.

There are still plenty of people like Crazylarry23 out there. We need to instil in our students the need for them to complete their own work and to demonstrate that they do have the skills required for success in the workplace.

I did come across an interesting tweet from Freelancer during my investigation about what had been said about the Crazylarry23 saga on the Internet.

Just Outsourcing identified that Freelancer.com was indeed complicit with the use of their site for the purposes of academic contract cheating, saying to @pheelpep, “We have had many ivy league students outsource their work on @freelancer.com 😉”. It has been speculated previously that the commission awarded to Freelancer.com through academic writing is substantial. This tweet provides a further indication which would mean that it contract cheating is not a problem that they would want to make a serious attempt to tackle.

Just Outsourcing suggests that Freelancer.com should consider how they treat requests for academic work. The site adds that “The ramifications of assisting the generation of unqualified ‘professionals’ are too large”. In our own research, we have observed attempts by trainee teachers to outsource their assignments and requests for nurses to receive help with passing their training. It does seem that there are real risks involved with agency websites assisting with contract cheating requests which the academic and professional communities need to address.

 

Jonathan Bailey of Plagiarism Today called Crazylarry23 “the stupid plagiarist”.

Mark Graban of Lean Blog seemed surprised that an example of postgraduate level cheating was up on Freelancer.com. He also acknowledged Michel Baudin for originally publicising this attempt at contract cheating, although that blog post no longer seems to be active.

As an academic, who along with Robert Clarke, has collected together a database of over 19,000 attempts at contract cheating, cases like this are not so surprising to us any longer. For the uninitiated, contract cheating occurs when a student gets a third party to produce assessed work for them.

We can trace over 50% of the cases we’ve identified back to the Freelancer.com agency website, as this analysis of observed contract cheating between March 2005 and June 2013 show. This isn’t a completely scientific sample, since Freelancer.com is one of the main sites on our contract cheating radar, but perhaps that’s why Jonathan Bailey labelled anyone using this site to cheat as “stupid”.

 

More details relating to this data set are academically available in our recent paper, “Commercial Aspects Of Contract Cheating” and several examples are expanded upon in Slides From Recent Talks by Thomas Lancaster.

The reaction to the case of Crazylarry23 does reflect the lack of publicity that contract cheating has had. In this case, raising awareness is always beneficial to the academic community and the wider industry who will be employing our students in the future.

Mark Graban discusseded two attempts by Crazylarry23, who self-identified himself as Australian, to cheat. One example included an ERP and Lean Manufacturing Essay, which Crazylarry23 insisted would “NOT be plagiarised”. This was outsourced to an author from Pakistan for $50.

Mark Graban also fulfilled the detective role, identified in our research, finding the school in Australia that Crazylarry23 attended. This was near Crazylarry23’s stated location on Freelancer.com, although our own attribution attempts have shown that the listed locations are not always accurate. The spelling of “plagiarised” in this case, backs up the premise that Crazylarry23 was native to Australia.

The role of the detective for contract cheating requests on agency websites often involves looking for trace evidence and small “clues” like these. Despite a number of our successes in identifying and attributing contract cheating cases, the sheer volume of these cheating attempts means that students are getting away with it. The academic community does need access to a semi-automated system to aid in the monitoring, collection of evidence and detective work.

The good news is that Plagiarism Today reports that successful notification of Crazylarry23’s school was made, and since the user has now left Freelancer.com, we can assume that they were identified and penalised. Copies of the bid requests are archived elsewhere based on their RSS feeds for anyone interested. Whether this is the same Crazylarry23 who can be observed to be a keen poker player using a Google search remains to be questioned.

 

There are still plenty of people like Crazylarry23 out there. We need to instil in our students the need for them to complete their own work and to demonstrate that they do have the skills required for success in the workplace.

I did come across an interesting tweet from Freelancer during my investigation about what had been said about the Crazylarry23 saga on the Internet.

Just Outsourcing identified that Freelancer.com was indeed complicit with the use of their site for the purposes of academic contract cheating, saying to @pheelpep, “We have had many ivy league students outsource their work on @freelancer.com 😉”. It has been speculated previously that the commission awarded to Freelancer.com through academic writing is substantial. This tweet provides a further indication which would mean that it contract cheating is not a problem that they would want to make a serious attempt to tackle.

Just Outsourcing suggests that Freelancer.com should consider how they treat requests for academic work. The site adds that “The ramifications of assisting the generation of unqualified ‘professionals’ are too large”. We have observed attempts by trainee teachers to outsource their assignments and requests for nurses to receive help with passing their training. It does seem that there are real risks involved with agency websites assisting with contract cheating requests which the academic and professional communities need to address.

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