I don’t condone plagiarism. Knowing that this happens, as I have clearly stated in the article, was something that concerned me a lot. However, two things warrant a discussion.
I do believe there is demand in this industry for a reason. Some issues are unresolved, such as lack of engagement of academia with students, commonly lack ability for lecturers or assistant lecturers to engage with students and support them in their studies. Having completed two degrees myself I believe that any lecturer who is engaged with their students would be able to spot a fraudulently submitted work. Most do. It is not their responsibility, of course, but you have to understand that many students consider degrees something they can’t experiment with, their last resort in achieving stability in their lives. Hence why, being met with the lack of support in their unique challenges, they resort to unethical practices. What I am trying to say is that the field exists for many reasons, with many aspects ‘to blame’, if you wish. It is not just black and white.
I also know that within this role I have assisted countless students to improve their writing through providing them with samples, help with structuring their work, editing or marked their work and provided comments for them to improve. Something their tutors or lecturers have not assisted with, something I was never assisted with when I needed it and had to work through on my own.
Yes. There are people, who use these services fraudulently. There is a lot of students that commission work and pass it off as their own. This is a painful reality that I am aware of. Having also worked in a university, I know that there is need for this, to bitterly remind academia that times have changed, the integrity of students is not what it was 20 years ago and there is an urgent need for:
- Development of better plagiarism software, which integrates samples of the student and uses machine learning to recognise their writing style (a real project I helped work on during my Masters)
- Integration of writing support tools that allow students to have premium support provided as part of their tuition fee
- Improvement of the relationship between students and academic staff to foster closer monitoring of individual progress.
- Emphasis on academic integrity as a value in both staff and students.
I hope this answers your question. Many thanks for raising this issue, as I will gladly discuss further. There is a valuable discussion to be had in the field and challenging assumptions is the way forward.