Outsourcing a Thesis

Culpam poena premit comes.
[Punishment closely follows crime as its companion.]

When you have a blog, you get spam. When you write about academic topics, you get academic spam. Or rather, pseudo-academic spam. I recently had one of these as comment on my blog posting titled: “How to Write a Dissertation Thesis in a Month: Outlines, Outlines, Outlines“.

Jenni (not sure whether real name or spam-bot) wrote:

Well i completed my thesis in few weeks, but i adopted a unique method, I had the draft out sourced and when i got it back i made my own changes to it and it was ready. I used [URL REMOVED]
They were right on money and topic

The link went to a page that offered academic ghost writing with promises of confidentiality.

To me, these services elicit a lot of different emotions — disgust, anger, etc. — so here was my reply:

Normally such a comment would be sorted into the spam folder, but after removing the I’ve approved it to make a point.

Outsourcing is not a unique method — it’s unfortunately common with some people who think they can buy an academic degree. Well, some are paying for college and some will pay for others to do their work later, so why not for the thesis too?

Well, because it’s plagiarism. Unless you stated that you used a ghostwriting service in your thesis — which I doubt that you did, because any university worth the name would not accept that work as yours — you lied about who did the work. And the academic work should be your own.

Not only did you not learn the necessary skills — nope, seeing the result is easy, doing it on your own is something completely different — you betrayed yourself of the chance to do a difficult high-level piece of work. Something like this is frequently a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and you blew it. The funny thing, I am willing to bet that in the future — give it 5 to 10 years — some hackers or whistleblowers will make the customers of these ‘services’ public. Or Google/Plagiarism software will improve so much that it will detect these kinds of plagiarisms. And then a lot of people who thought they could buy their title, or a huge chunk of the work necessary will lose it.

So, congratulations, you not only blew an academic adventure that you could have had with the right mindset, you also put a time bomb in your CV. Tick-tock-tick-tock … have fun.

I usually do not (want to) write in anger, but these “services” … brrrr. I can totally understand to visit writing workshops, ask advisers for tips, and hey, I’m even thinking about providing this service in the future. But to outsource the work and then make some modifications? Which can be anything from changing the authors name to working on the language … that cheapens the degree. To make matters worse, universities should produce people who are able to do complex work, like writing a thesis. And now you have people who only know how to pay for it.

And yup, I hope that people who plagiarize and cheat in science are exposed for what they are.