Dissertation cheats: the dark, corrupt slice of the Internet

Dissertation cheats: the dark, corrupt slice of the Internet

Summary: The Internet is slowly becoming a rubbish tip for junk, useless information, knitting patterns and videos of blind Scottish men being hit in the nuts with a baseball. Because nothing on the web really ever disappears, we can see into the looking glass of the past.


The Internet is slowly becoming a rubbish tip for junk, useless information, knitting patterns and videos of blind Scottish men being hit in the nuts with a baseball. Because nothing on the web really ever disappears, we can see into the looking glass of the past. Over the last few decades, we've accumulated a lot of content, and the amount of "immoral" websites and services available; essay writing services for university students who want to cheat, have increased. Take this made up example:

Hmmm... pie. But seriously, don't take this seriously.

(Figures are inaccurate as they were made up for a joke. Forget it, let's move on...)

Students can spend anything as little as a few hours up to a few weeks for an average, normal essay part of their undergraduate studies. Some will have more essays than others, but they're an important part of a qualification. They show how the learner understands the knowledge they have acquired, how to reference and cite sources, as well as a discipline in writing formats. It's an art, rather than a chore; maybe that's why so many Bachelor of Arts degree qualifications have essays - art and arts.

But the other day, I received an email from CheatHouse.com, a website which "specialises in essays and papers for students". They offer a variety of ways to plug into the database, but the primary way is to pay for access, allowing you to read through and access thousands of pre-written essays and dissertations. From their about page:

"To stimulate learning. Simply. We have gotten a lot of critisism in the past, and I suspect this will continue in the future, but we are trying to build a community, where students come together."

Considering the name of the damn website is "CheatHouse", are we supposed to fall for that? Now let's face it; the chances of somebody buying a unique essay to study it and not to plagiarise it, is little-to-none. As a society, we are unfortunately not that moral.

Flamy laptopIt does, however, try to justify it on a specific page buried within the mass of links, and dodging the "encouraging cheating" question with another question; whilst creating a loophole to wiggle out of the plagiarism question. Just because the person who wrote the essay cites all the sources, references and acknowledges authors, doesn't mean someone else can hand it in as theirs. It just doesn't work like that. A dictionary definition won't detract away from what appears to be a standard policy of a university.

"So you didn't write this essay?" ... "No, but all the sources are cited and it's referenced." ... "Oh that's OK then, well done, you've got a first."


Why pick out this website? Because not only do they offer a slice of temptation cake to students, they also send out spam emails to Hotmail addresses. I just wish I hadn't deleted the email in the first place. It's not just them though; there are so many "services" out there which promote and actively support this.

Google, back in June, began to blacklist advertisements which promoted essay-writing services, which has certainly cut the number of these immoral ads from the main Google search, but for local search locales, it seems to have little effect.

Considering that a degree, or a masters or doctorate qualification enables a person to go on to very specific, specialised practices, I cannot see how the people who buy and use these essays should be let through to graduate. They surely wouldn't, except they aren't detected. The websites that provide these, especially this particular website which spam's people as well, should be absolutely ashamed of themselves.

Putting it simply, it's cheating a way into a qualification, which could be used to gain a job position or academic status. That, my friends, is fraud.

Housing essays for university students on servers, which enable them to go on to cheat an academic body into qualifying them to specialised jobs - dentistry, surgery, architecture, teaching, computer science - but evidentially aren't qualified to write essays thus graduate, it's letting the wrong'uns through.

I know, this may just seem like a rant, but this practice is making a mockery of university education, but also the electronic research processes we all use at some points. Your thoughts?

Topics: Browser, Collaboration, Software Development

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Cheating existed prior to Internet

    Essay writing services existing prior to the Internet. In my city, Toronto, there was a company at a major intersection of the city and next to our huge reference library offering this service with a huge sign. Plus there were flyers posted on campus. The Internet didn't create this fraud, but it no doubt has made it easier to commit.

    Hasn't the Internet also enabled plagiarism detecting services? I know academics and media professionals who have used them and found plagiarists. This would not have been feasible before the Internet.
    • Re: Cheating existed prior to Internet

      Yes, the Internet has enabled many services to stop plagiarism. A few years ago at my university, there was a senior who had earned 110 of his 122 required hours, he submitted a paper that was caught as potentially plagiarized, it was then double checked and confirmed. During the academic integrity inquiry, several past professors came forward with "suspicious" essays they thought the student could have never written, they were checked, and also confirmed. In the end, all of the students credits were canceled, and he was expelled (which extends to all public universities in this state). I think if this sort of thing happened to more students, the problem would cease.
  • Maybe we should place a giant filter on the internet

    And then we can live happily according to one person's or group's perception of morality.
  • RE: Dissertation cheats: the dark, corrupt slice of the Internet

    As an anthropology/history major whose entire college education has centered around essays, I have to wonder how useful a database like this is. In my experience, each teacher has there own set of expectations that can vary wildly between individuals. I have had professors who make their essays basically one big question and answer exercise, and others who only offer a broad question and expect the entire essay to answer that.

    The whole idea that CheatHouse.com "stimulates learning" is total bunk. First, if you are having problems getting a handle on an essay, I have never met a professor who will not at least point you in the right direction. Secondly, if "stimulating knowledge" is the purpose of the site, it should be totally unnecessary, as students are free to meet and discuss the assignment, giving each other advise and helping to flesh out ideas that some might be struggling to understand. This is the essence of a college education.

    I think part of the problem with cheating services like this lies in the mentality of students. Since college is a virtually mandatory part of education, at least from a middle-class perspective, many student feel entitled to a diploma, that it is something that is inevitable. To many students, college is just a time to live away from home, party, rack up debt and in 4 years get a piece of paper that allows you to get a job. Since college is nothing special but rather something to get through, cheating is a perfectly logical way to get through it, as a bachelors degree is an inevitability why should a student worry about writing an essay. Yes this is a generalization, but to some degree this idea of the inevitability of graduation is needed to rationalize cheating.
  • Plagiarising and Internet Rubbish

    Yes, the Internet was not the first.

    Encyclopaedia Brittanica was a very helpful 'essay aid' for History at High School.

    90% of the Internet is rubbish. But then its precursor, Bulletin Boards were the same.
  • RE: Dissertation cheats: the dark, corrupt slice of the Internet

    Gee, are these services based in Illinois?
    • Unlikely!

      I don't think anything is based in Illinois. The notorious BBQ killer once basted in Illinois, but that's about it as far as I know.
  • RE: Dissertation cheats: the dark, corrupt slice of the Internet

    Overblown - I have a doctorate - that required I spend many hours in the lab doing original work under the watch of my mentor - thinking that I could simply buy something to serve as my dissertation is ludricous.

    The only place thgis would make a differnce is in the lower division general education classes, where there are a lot of turn-the-crank topics that are issued time and time again. Even if someone uses these services, gets a degree while learning nothing - what do you think will happen when that person goes into the workforce and produces nothing but pure garbage? Do you reall think that someone can bluff his way through industry if they are truly unable to perform?
    Bruce L
  • Legitimate use

    I have an engineer friend who found a PhD dissertation outlining an algorithm for facial-recognition software. He contacted the author and received permission to develop and market actual software based on the algorithm. Systems he designed and installed had already caught a few terrorists overseas even before 9/11. Of course, when the US started installing it in airports, they bought cheap, lo-res cameras, severely compromising the effectiveness of the system here.
    My friend may be the only person who has researched dissertations for legitimate use, for all I know. But because of his application a few people who massacre folks for fun are out of circulation.
    In a perfect world, academic papers would be universally available for legitimate use, while anybody who plagiarized their dissertation would be summarily dumped from their academic program. Detecting plagiarism and fraud rests on the shoulders of those who review papers. Even given programs to analyze and compare papers, how would they access all those papers-for-sale without subscribing to and thereby supporting "services" like CheatHouse.com?
    Gonna take someone smarter than me to solve that one. In the meantime, our best hopw is to deter cheating by making the penalty for those high enough to make people think seriously about the risk.
  • RE: Dissertation cheats: the dark, corrupt slice of the Internet

    While going to college in the 70's I had a friend that would mark sections of books and give them to a typist with a few phrases to link them. That was the way he wrote his papers and dissertation. Oh but he paid for it, let me tell you. How did he pay for it? With a great reputation for his writing ability and thanks in part to this "writing skill" he became Valedictorian!! The funny part is that he was not a native English speaker, which made it more of an "accomplishment"!
  • RE: Dissertation cheats: the dark, corrupt slice of the Internet

    as a writer offering services to web site creators and businesses, I have been approached by students looking for someone to do their work for them. It stinks and should be stopped.

  • RE: Dissertation cheats: the dark, corrupt slice of the Internet

    I don't understand the desire to have someone else do your work for you. If I am going to take the time to complete all other assignments for a course and have learned the material, I am not going to be satisfied with something someone else wrote. I sometimes struggle with my essays, but in the end, it feels good to know that I have learned the material and have produced a solid paper that shows what I have learned.
  • To a certain extent, the universities are cheating.

    If the intent is to evaluate a candidate's knowledge, having him or her work one-on-one with the professor is far better. However, it's a lot more expensive.

    So, by simply pretending that the professor of, say, biology, has some reason to evaluate a candidate's writing ability, they can evaluate biology on the cheap.

    This is not to excuse the abuse of the written dissertation system, but having an engineering student work with the professor on a project would very quickly expose the cheats for what they were. So, part of the problem is that the dissertation is used in place of more meaningful evaluations of the candidate's performance, which makes cheating much easier.