Plagiarism and the student essay

I was reading through Twitter this morning when I came upon an interesting post by a young follower recommending a site for those who are late passing in their class essays. The site is, but of course this isn't the only one. There are lots of them, with more springing up almost daily. Some of these are free, and some of these sites offer paid for services. I thought I would give it a try, to see how easy it would be to come up with a fake paper.

It's very easy to use. You just type in a couple keywords and then what looks like a word processor springs up on the site with a title and sub title for the report. Then once you press enter, and hold down the space bar on your keyboard, the program writes out your report. I copied and pasted it into a Microsoft Word document. I had a well written 21 page report.

Of course this information has to come from someplace. I copied one sentence out of the document and copied and pasted it in Google and did a search.  I found the exact same document on

Plagiarism is a serious offence. Depending on the institute you can bet there will some form of severe discipline if a student gets caught. The high-school here says:

Plagiarism is considered a serious academic offense that may lead to loss of credit for that particular assignment and/or course.

Doing a search for punishments led me to some university websites where I discovered  the punishment can be worse.

If you're a parent or grandparent of a student and you have been asked to read over their paper before they hand it in, it wouldn't hurt to see if the document you're reading is an original.

There are tools for educators too, to use online to see if the text has been copied. Sometimes they aren't even needed. Teachers who know the student of whose paper they are grading, can tell if the style of writing has changed, which indicates a copied section. Or it might be that the paper is written in a level above the student's understanding. Sometimes all a teacher needs to do is keep the student after class for a few minutes to discuss the content of the essay and see if they have a good understanding of the concepts they have presented.

If you find your child or grandchild may be guilty of this, I'd like to direct you to an article written by Jeff Karon titled A Positive Solution for Plagiarism. Although the article is more for educators than parents, I like the idea of having a frank and open discussion with kids on exactly what it means to plagiarize someone's work, what the consequences could be, and how it might be better to avoid the temptation.




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