Every now and then, even the best students just want an assignment to magically complete itself. Perhaps it's more than just a flippant want; they need a project done, but for various reasons cannot get it done themselves.
Students turn to ghostwriters for numerous reasons. We would be deceiving ourselves if we thought that only rich students, or only lazy students, or only struggling or incapable students would consider paying someone to write a paper for them. Making no excuses for the students, things happen in students' lives that can leave them with their backs against the wall. Ultimately, regardless of the motivation to consider paying a ghostwriting service, students know that such services exist and whether on a whim or as a last resort, they come to think, “This is what I need to do to survive (academically, of course).”
While we can be sympathetic and agree that yes, sometimes the pressure in academia and in life in general can be immense, we don't have to conclude that the decision to pay someone else to do your work is justified, at least not in academia.
Obviously, most businesses operate by paying employees to do the work of the company. But thinking of academic work as analogous to the product of a business is wrongheaded on many levels. Business practices and academics are not comparable in these matters. Students are not the CEOs of their academic success, making decisions about how to get work done as efficiently as possible. Academia is where students train and equip themselves to be whatever it is they want to be. A college education is a process of building oneself and adding to one's capabilities, rather than a hoop one has to get through.
However, as long as degrees, or particular courses, are seen as bureaucratic hoops, the idea to “just get the job done” doesn't seem out of place. Indeed, under such an ideological framework, one could conceivably be considered wise, or at least clever, for running a cost/benefit analysis of the situation and deciding that $350 to get a paper done to pass a class is a good business decision.
The demand that keeps ghostwriting services operating shows that there are some serious misconceptions regarding the purpose of college degrees (or at least regarding particular classes that make up the curriculum). The blame for such misconceptions cannot be placed solely on the students. The misconceptions come from somewhere, and are nourished somewhere; the attitude is in the air.
Our article, “Detecting and Deterring Ghostwritten Papers: A Guide to Best Practices” offers much insight about the ghostwriting industry, but more importantly, through offering suggestions on how to help deter fraudulent works, the article points to some root causes for the ill-conceived attitudes towards the purposes of assignments, courses, and even degrees. In many cases, it boils down to this: assignments are treated like unnecessary formalities, or requirements dictated from higher up. We do not mean to shift the blame from students to teachers; nevertheless, it is thought-provoking that most of the deterrents seem to ask for more teacher involvement.
Therefore, it seems reasonable to conclude that the demand for ghostwriters is not solely the students' fault, nor their teachers', nor can it be placed solely on some mystical misconception floating around college campuses.
There are problems with higher education in America that run much deeper than can be dealt with here. However, we must face the fact that academic dishonesty is taking place, here and now, on a scale large enough to warrant every educator's attention.
Given that, educators need to know how to detect it and deter it. We hope to help with our article, "Detecting and Deterring Ghostwritten Papers: A Guide to Best Practices."