Caveat Emptor

It might shock, shock many honor-bound Lawrentians that there are college students out there that don’t do their own work.  In fact, as many of you are likely aware, there is a robust market for term papers out there that allow you to buy papers from levels from high school to Ph.D. on topics ranging from, well, from Moses Abramovitz to Frederik Ludvig Bang Zeuthen.  It appears the going rate is about $10-$15 per page depending on how soon you need it.

This is certainly not a new phenomenon.  Years back, Seth Stevenson surveyed the market and gave a few pointers for cheaters and lazeabouts to choose the right site to purchase a paper, and he looks at some of the market characteristics.  For example, a custom paper is about twice as expensive as an off-the-rack piece.

But that was nearly 10 years ago, and certainly the market has matured by then.  For a more recent treatment, behavioral economist Dan Ariely dipped his toe in to see what he could find, and what he found was well worth reading. Here are a few snippets:

We ordered a typical college term paper from four different essay mills, and as the topic of the paper we chose…  (surprise!) Cheating…  We submitted the four essays to, a website that inspects papers for plagiarism and found that two of the papers were 35-39% copied from existing works.

Someone plunks down $100 for a paper, and still gets dinged for cheating?  Now that smarts.  Exactly what recourse do you have in that situation?  I guess you ask for your money back:

We decided to take action with the two largely plagiarized papers, and contacted the essay mills requesting our money back. Despite the solid proof that we provided, the companies insisted that they did not plagiarize. One company even tried to threaten us by saying that they will get in touch with the dean at Duke to alert them to the fact that we submitted work that is not ours.

I like their moxie — deny, deny, deny, threaten.

The comments to Ariely’s post are also interesting.