The consequences of buying a term paper from a custom writing paper mill: Plagiarizing by any other name

If you’re going to use someone else’s work, always remember to cite the source. (Credit: Dahn)

If you’re going to use someone else’s work, always remember to cite the source. (Credit: Dahn)

Many a student facing a deadline has thought about buying their term paper from a custom writing service, also known as a paper mill. But what they may not realize is that if they turn in that paper as their own work that they will be plagiarizing or committing an academic crime. When plagiarism is detected then the consequences can be quite costly for the student.

Rate of incidents of plagiarism

Plagiarism, or using other people’s writing and ideas without giving them credit, has increased over the past decade according to Pew Research. Plagiarism.org found that in a survey of more than 63,700 undergraduate students that:

  • 36 percent admitted to either paraphrasing or copying a few sentences from an Internet source without citing it
  • 7 percent self-reported turning in work that was done by someone else
  • 3 percent reported buying their paper from a paper mill

In a January 27, 2013 post for Edudemic.com titled, “The Current State Of Plagiarism In Education,” Katie Lepi provided a few facts about incidences of plagiarism between 2010 and 2011.

Out of more than 35 million papers submitted to the plagiarism detector Turnitin:

  • there were more than 128 million content matches from these papers on the web
  • many content matches came from social media sites and sharing sites such as Wikipedia
  • about 14-20 percent of the matches came from cheat sites and paper mills

What happens to a student when plagiarism is found to have occurred? Most colleges have created an office of academic integrity to deal with the rampant practice of plagiarism. The consequences tend to be similar from one campus to the next.

Consequences of plagiarism

An example of how campuses handle plagiarism can be found at The University of Iowa page on Academic Misconduct. The first step involves the department reporting to the dean of the college. Then the department and the instructor may present their recommendations for disciplinary action.

Disciplinary actions tend to escalate based on the severity and number of instances of plagiarism committed by a student and include:

  • reduction of the overall course, grade possibly to an “F”
  • disciplinary probation
  • suspension from the college
  • expulsion from the college

But the consequences don’t stop there. According to David Plaut of ReferencePointSoftware.com, the act of plagiarism can follow you throughout your academic career. In a post titled, “Dangers of Buying a Custom Term Paper in an APA Style Format,” Plaut explained.

“If you are caught submitting a purchased paper, you may be expelled on the grounds of plagiarism. Even if they let you stay, this act will go on your student record, ruining any future opportunities for higher learning,” Plaut said.

It’s a good idea to find out how your instructor and your college handle disciplinary actions. Check for information on your college’s website and in your course syllabus.

Other consequences to consider

“Everybody does it so why shouldn’t I?” you might ask. Sooner or later, one way or another, an act of plagiarism will come to light. How might this happen? Think about it. Let’s say you cheat your way through law school with papers from a paper mill. The big day arrives and you have to defend your client for murder. Are you really prepared to do the job?

On paper you are, but if you didn’t really do the hard work to learn your craft then your client will likely suffer. You, on the other hand, might be in for a lawsuit or even disbarment for botching the defense.

Other ways that plagiarism hurts everyone were listed by Francois Pitt of the University of Toronto in an article titled, “Guidelines for Avoiding Plagiarism.”

According to Pitt, “When the University of Toronto grants you a degree, they are making a statement that you have certain skills and knowledge. The more cheating there is, the less this is true: as companies find out about this (when they hire incompetent students that have a UofT degree), this lowers the value of the degree for everyone.”

Learn to avoid plagiarism now

If you want to learn how to research and write a paper without committing plagiarism then be sure to take advantage of the Free Trial at Questia.com. The site has numerous tutorials and tools along with millions of full-text books and articles that have been reviewed for accuracy and will be excellent sources for your papers.

Have you ever purchased a paper from a website or do you know someone who has? How did it turn out? Tell us about it in the comments below.

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