Have you ever heard of contract cheating? It is a new term that has surfaced in the last decade, in a content-driven society. It is a term used to describe how an individual pays someone else to perform a task for them – in many cases, a written one – and passes off the latter work as their own. This form of cheating has surfaced particularly around universities, where undergraduates have to produce essays frequently as well as dissertations, and indeed, essay mills – as the companies that sell these services – frequently do their advertising around campuses. You can reportedly get an essay that guarantees a particular grade and is not detected by algorithms to have been copied.
Why do people buy such services? You may of course suspect that undergraduates pay fifty or more pounds to get out of the tedium of writing an essay. Now you may think it crazy to spend that amount of money for the time it takes to write an essay but that amount of money goes more into the necessary research that comes before the writing of an essay. How much research is necessary depends on the actual complexity of the essay of course. But essay mills promise that you will get a particular grade with an essay, so some may use it as a guide to the research involved.
But not all services are paid for by undergraduates who want to “par-tay” their University life away while aiming to get a degree for as little work as possible. Some might have actually do long hours of work alongside their studies and cannot spend their time reading books and looking up research for their essays and working at the same time. You can’t for example, do childminding in a nursery with book in hand and mind off the job.
Should we be concerned about essay mills? Well, yes. It requires employers to be more stringent about qualifications. But one cannot examine whether a potential employee has done the work on his or her own, so this is where a careful interview process to ascertain the potential employee’s skills are important.
The other lesson is for our children. They may fall prey to the essay mills, thinking it is an easy way out, but we have to impress on them the value of acquiring skills rather than just merely attaining the qualifications. It comes back to the old circle of process over product. Because when they sit in front of an interview panel and the panel realise that the candidate’s product is flawed (and hence the process to obtain it), they may find the short cut was not worth it at all. We have to steer them away from it.
Imagine if the great writers and music composers of the past indulged in essay mills or music mills! Someone like the classical music great Joseph Hadyn would not have come up with the diversity of works had he subcontracted out his writing – and we would be so much poorer for it. And doing your own work means you are constantly refining your craft, and getting better at it. You can find out more trivia about Haydn from the Piano Teacher Muswell Hill website, including why his tomb contains two skulls. Maybe he needed all that brainpower with an extra head?