Getting Paid to Write Essays and Term Papers
Essays for Cash: Intro, Info and Ethics
Who can I pay to write an essay for me?
Where can I buy an essay?
Now hiring- get paid to write academic papers!
Write custom essays for pay!
The internet has certainly made it easy for writers and students to connect; the paid essay writing service has been around for years now. This service is one in which a student pays someone else to write their academic essays, research projects or other school/university work for them, anonymously.
As a writer, you may have encountered this via a paid, organized business/website looking to recruit more writers into its ranks, or you may have stumbled on an ad from a harried student on Craigslist. Maybe a student has contacted you directly. Either way, the exchange exists, and, as a writer, you should know about it.
Students Who Need Academic Essays Written
So, who exactly are these students? From my experience, they tend to be desperate procrastinators, as evidenced by their late-night, hurried emails and rapidly approaching deadlines. I've also heard from several who simply lacked the self-confidence to tackle a big assignment. These are the ones who tend to reach out ahead of time, with a little leeway on the due date. Lastly, I gather some are simply spoiled and able to afford the service—why put themselves out when the ease of a credit card means they can do something else, something they want to do?
A former professor wrote about the practice at the Chronicle of Higher Education several years ago, noting that he sees three specific kinds of essay-buyers: “From my experience, three demographic groups seek out my services: the English-as-second-language student; the hopelessly deficient student; and the lazy rich kid.” That observation dovetails well with what I've seen, too.
This service exists for several reasons. On the surface, it’s because the dawn of the internet brought with it a special kind of plagiarism. Once students were able to post—and pluck—completed essays directly off the Internet, professors had to compensate in some way to attempt to protect the academic integrity of the classroom. Plagiarism-checker services like TurnItIn and Copyscape can compare a student’s text to (almost) the entire internet to catch copied work. Also, professors may also assign highly structured and specific essays with detailed instructions of what is to be included in the piece. It not only shows application of the curriculum learned but also (hopefully) makes it that much harder to just copy from the Internet. However, unscrupulous students can now get around this by hiring a writer or a service and providing the specifics of the assignment directly to them.
The Writer Who Sells Term Papers
So what does the writer that may engage in this business look like, exactly? And what’s in it for the writer? To answer this question, let’s look at this without the ethical argument for a moment (more about that below).
I’ll begin at a very personal level. The first time that I was approached to write a term paper floored me.
I received an email shortly after going public as a freelance writer in which a female college student asked me to write an essay on "Sense and Sensibility" for an English class. She stated that she was willing to pay me $400, as that’s how much of her birthday money she had left. The essay was due in two days. As an English major who 1) loved "Sense and Sensibility and 2) very much missed writing about and discussing books, this seemed like a dream to me. I knew I could pound out such an essay in a couple of hours, tops. Not bad money, and not an activity I would dread. So, you can see how this kind of arrangement can come to be for both players, right?
Of course, with any working writer, the major consideration here (again, leaving ethics aside for a moment) is financial. In the case above, I had already read the book (not to mention the fact that I’d previously dissected it in my past as a student).
I could have made more than $100 per hour in that early time in my career. Depending on the arrangement, due date, subject matter and other factors, there is a real possibility of making bank here for writers. On their end, many of these students seem to have credit cards, padded bank accounts or family willing to support them in whatever way necessary.
Lastly, I will say that there is another potential perk for the writer in this arrangement. In my practice of supporting and editing theses and dissertation students (a completely ethical service that I offer), I've found that working with the ideas, topics, and processes that my education is based on gave me a bit of a boost in my writing practice—“greased the wheels” a bit, so to say. After weeks and months of writing about my client’s products, writing about politics, or writing about writing (as I do here, I’ve found that approaching more cerebral topics is a nice change of pace.
The Freelance Writer’s Work
The way this particular service works depends on how the writer and student arrange the contract. For example, if the deal is made via one of the many “term paper writing” website-based companies, the contract, work, and pay would all flow through said company. However, if the arrangement is private, it’s a good bet that you’re arranging payment through Paypal or paper check, and delivering essays via Microsoft Word and email.
For the writer, there are a few challenges in this line of work. First, let’s consider the fact that you may not be dealing with the most honest of customers. After all, they are technically cheating. It seems to me that payment should be due up front and in full. Secondly, there is the situation of matching a student’s tone and voice. You may be a talented writer, but it stands to reason that your customer is not. How polished, exactly, should this work be? This will depend on the topic and level and is an interesting question in its right. Another issue is the research inherent in college-level work. Many writers in this business tend to heavily use Google Scholar, Wikipedia citations and Amazon’s book samples.
Writing Term Papers for Pay: The Ethics
Of course, this is the main question that comes up when writers talk about this line of work. A writer who does this is helping another person to cheat. It’s that simple. Also, although the work isn't illegal, the freelance writer should understand that this doesn't mean it’s free of consequences, either. Consider your reputation as a writer. Consider the impact this work may have on any community groups or board positions that you work within. Ask yourself what your cost would be, were it known that you engage in this kind of work.
One way that I've seen service providers get around the ethics question is by insisting that the writing they sell to students is simply a unique "model" essay that the student is supposed to use to help them learn. I’m willing to bet that all parties involved understand this is simply a ruse.
To present a somewhat balanced take on the ethical side of this service, I’ll share some of the other justifications I've heard through the years on the part of writers who provide essays for pay. The only potential excuse that flies in my book is when you’re absolutely in desperate need of the money. I get it. If your heat or light bill is due, I’m certainly not about to judge you for the way that you get that payment together.
Other writers have reasoned that the student will simply choose another writer to provide the service, so why bother? Some point to the fact that the writer isn't the cause of this particular problem, and that if any finger-pointing should be done, we should look at the education system that perpetuates such a practice.
Alternatives to Writing Student Essays
Look, as a book-lover and English major, I get the draw. I excelled at academics of this nature. I was one of the rare students who enjoyed the research and writing process. That’s why I’m in this career now. However, there are other ways to earn money by doing what we love.
Book reviewing is easily one of my favorite services. To this day, after a decade in this business, I get a thrill out of finding free books in my mailbox and reviewing them for others.
Also, many colleges are fine with upper-level students being supported in their writing process by editors. I've provided editing, indexing and research support to several Masters and Doctoral students. Individual institutions often have some guidelines on editorial services posted on their websites. Some colleges even keep a list of freelance editors to whom they refer their students.
Last, there are several magazines and websites that accept long form articles that are well-researched, interesting and provocative. Check the "Writer’s Market," or do a search within your particular niche area.
Getting Paid to Write Essays
The bottom line is that this is a service that people are willing to pay for—and it’s probably not going away anytime in the near future. The freelance writer must carefully gather the facts, but also follow their conscience. Good luck.
It takes about three minutes to order a final dissertation for an English literature degree at the UK Essays website. I pick my country, subject and required grade. I go for a 2:1, choose a length – let’s say 5,000 words – a seven-day deadline, and watch the price calculator hit £687 (or £1,236 for a two-day turnaround). Click “next step” and I can enter my topic before being matched with a suitable writer, who will produce an essay “personalised to my requirements”. It would come with a series of promises. “The work we produce is guaranteed to meet the grade you order, or you get your money back.” It will also be “100% free from plagiarism” – and on time.
All of this would be totally legal and, the owners of UK Essays insist, ethical, too – because what its customers are definitely not supposed to do is submit the work as their own. “Our essays … are the best, most useful study aid in the world,” says Daniel Dennehy, chief operating officer at All Answers, the Nottinghamshire company that owns UK Essays. “They increase any student’s understanding of a topic, which subsequently improves their ability to write an excellent, unique answer of their own.”
UK Essays says it sold 16,000 assignments last year, up from 10,000 five years earlier, written by a network of 3,500 researchers. The company’s “fair use policy”, which requires a click away from the order page, spells out the rules. “Even if you did make minor alterations to the researcher’s work, this would still be considered plagiarism,” it warns. But, Dennehy accepts, “I have worked here for nine years and I am not naive enough to think that all our clients use the work correctly.” He declines to estimate what proportion of his customers are cheats.
The growth of these sites, which are known as essay mills, is now troubling the higher levels of government. Jo Johnson, the universities minister, has appealed to student bodies and universities to help tackle so-called “contract plagiarism”, which he sees as a growing threat to academic integrity. New guidelines, to be published in time for the next academic year, are expected to recommend a new sector-wide policy, and the government has not ruled out beefing up the law.
The intervention follows a report published last summer by the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA), which maintains standards in higher education. It found that anti-plagiarism policies were variable across universities, and that fraud law isn’t robust enough to legislate against the misuse of essay mills. It also suggested a ban on advertising, and explored the role of search engines, which present hundreds of results to students looking for essays.
The government believes there are more than 100 mills in operation, churning out anything from B-grade GCSE coursework (£106 on UK Essays) to a 100,000-word PhD in criminal law (£82,238). “But our research suggests it’s more like 1,000 sites,” says Prof Phil Newton, the director of learning and teaching at Swansea University and an expert in academic plagiarism. Previous estimates suggest that more than 20,000 students a year in the UK are paying for essays to get degrees. The true figure may be much higher.
“This is a very fast-moving problem, which the sector and legislation has been slow to address,” Newton adds. “When I started researching it in 2009, I couldn’t believe what was available and how little research had been done. On some sites you can even enter your course code and the name of your lecturer and the writer will tailor an essay to that. To the man on the street,” he adds, “it’s very odd that this sort of thing is legal.”
Universities are equipped to detect old-fashioned, cut-and-paste plagiarism. Software such as Turnitin, which claims 97% of UK universities as customers, flags up passages it identifies in existing sources. But it cannot detect an original essay written by someone else. Even when lecturers suspect foul play, it can be hard to know how to act. “I had one instance recently when a student received a much higher mark than expected,” says a senior lecturer at a London university, who asked not to be named. “His work had a level of fluency and sophistication of thought that hadn’t been seen. But I wasn’t 100% sure, because I think he wrote parts of the essay in his own style to throw me off, so I left it. It’s a minefield.”
Opinion is divided over how to respond, however, and whether tighter rules or laws risk driving would-be cheats to the darker edges of the “model answers industry”, as essay mills prefer to be called. Many students have reported being ripped off with shoddy work, or none at all. But there is also concern that contract plagiarism, while obviously wrong, is a symptom of what critics describe as the commodification of higher education.
International students in the UK now pay between around £15,000 and £40,000 a year in tuition fees. Those from outside the EU paid £4.2bn in fees in 2014-15, almost 30% of universities’ income from fees – and almost 13% of their total income.
Universities depend on foreign students with deep pockets, which is why they are fighting government plans to bring numbers down. Dave Tomar, a former mill writer in the US, says this means universities too often sell places to ill-equipped students, many of whom arrive with limited written English or awareness of British academic norms. “The vast majority of students who cheat aren’t lazy, but struggling,” he says. “They have invested so much that they don’t want to blow it by failing.”
In 10 years, Tomar, 37, says he wrote about 4,000 assignments for customers, including hundreds in Britain. Before he quit in 2013, he says he earned $60,000 (almost £50,000) a year; he says writers generally get about half the essay fee. “Whatever their motivations, this is a symptom, not the illness,” he adds from his home in Philadelphia, where he now writes about education reform after the success of The Shadow Scholar, a book about his former life. “We need a broader conversation about how educational systems are failing these students such that they end up in college way over their heads.”
Now a degree is a commodity, no wonder more students are cheating | Poppy Noor
While studying a language at Cambridge University, Claire (not her real name) wrote essays during her first year, and also understood that most of her customers were not British. “You have a UK system reliant on foreign students while, through the backdoor, companies are devaluing the very degree certificates that attract all that foreign money in the first place,” she says in an email, describing the result as “a wonderful downward spiral of devaluation”.
Newton accepts that, in some places, students arrive without sufficient skills to complete good written work. But he says students know when they are crossing a line, and that penalties for plagiarism are generally tough already (cheats at Swansea are expelled). What has changed, he adds, is the increasing accessibility and slick presentation of many of the sites, which appeal to students who might not otherwise resort to cheating. “The easier it is, the more likely it is to happen,” he says.
Not all essay mills, which began to proliferate over a decade ago, do much to put off would-be cheats. OK Essay, which last year removed adverts from London Underground stations near universities after complaints, claims on its homepage to have more than 10,000 customers. “Looking for experts to ‘Write my essay for me’? Choose us and we won’t disappoint you!” Deep in the terms and conditions, the mill says it will not be liable “for the outcome or consequences of submission [of] the paper to any academic institution”. Nowhere does it explicitly advise against it.
Posing as a struggling history student, I call the customer support line for clarification. “If I want to use the essay as my own work, is that possible?” I ask. “I’m not able to tell you whether it’s possible or not. We just write the paper for you and you can use it for what you want,” the agent says. The company says it is based in Sheffield, but there is no address on the website, which also hides its domain registration details. The terms and conditions say the site is owned by Elabama Inc, a company registered in Panama. “So it would be at my own risk?” I ask. “You can just use it at your own risk – it’s what our disclaimer says on our website. It’s meant to serve as example … You can get it, read it, shake it and if you like it you can use it, if you don’t like it you can fix it to [be] like you want it and use it.” When I call back as a journalist, I am given an email address but none of my questions are answered, and despite further calls and emails, there is no response to the suggestion that the company appears to condone cheating.
Claire wrote for Oxbridge Essays, a prominent site with offices in London. “It was clear to everyone involved what was going on,” she recalls. Yet she found the work stimulating as well as lucrative after quitting a “soul-destroying” temp job. “I didn’t worry too much about the ethics at first because I felt bitter about the fact this was the only way I could find work that was interesting and rewarding,” she says. “I got paid £200 for the first one. I was 19 and that was a lot of money.”
In 2013, the Advertising Standards Authority ruled that Oxbridge Essays had breached its code by guaranteeing “that you will receive at least the grade you order”. The implication of the promise contradicted the company’s terms, which prohibit the submission of its essays, the authority found. Philip Malamatinas, who launched the site in 2006, declines to answer questions. Nor does he respond to Claire’s claim that the company knew what was going on. “We work with thousands of students who come to us having been let down by a system designed to penalise those for whom English is a second language, and who typically pay three or four times as much as UK students in tuition fees,” he writes in a statement. “Sadly, our universities are simply too stretched to provide the same level of support to all and as a result, students are turning to private enterprises to subsidise their educational needs.”
Mills are not the only people making a case for model answers. “I think they’re incredibly valuable, especially for international students,” says Alexander Proudfoot, chief executive of Independent Higher Education (formerly Study UK), which represents more than 130 private institutions. He attended a QAA plagiarism forum before the publication of last year’s report. “We’d be happy for there to be a national database of essays. If you made them accessible then the demand for essay mills goes out the window [see footnote].”
Universities blame others for plagiarism. They need to look at themselves
Newton, who also sat on the forum, is not convinced, preferring “to show students how things are structured and what it looks like to write an essay”. Either way, he adds: “When you can give a precise title and specify the grade and the referencing and sources, that’s something very different.” No essay site I approach will explain why, if their work is only intended to be used as a model, they are so keen to guarantee originality, sometimes two days before a deadline, if not to help students elude plagiarism detection software.
Newton believes part of the solution must be a requirement for more face-to-face and practical assessment. Proudfoot says institutions should find resources for essay-writing and critical-thinking classes, as well as tutorial support for students who “find themselves backed into a corner”. Claire agrees. She gave up when the demands of her own studies left her too busy to write for other students. “My dad also told me, ‘You might not be thinking about the wider repercussions of this now, but think about later,’ and I thought – you know, you might be right.”
• The following footnote was added on 6 March 2017: after publication, Alexander Proudfoot asked us to clarify that when he said “the demand for essay mills goes out the window”, he meant “the argument for essay mills goes out the window”.