Its Okay To Be Different Essay Papers

Sometimes as I decide what kind of papers to assign to my students, I can’t help but think about their potential to use essay mills.

Essay mills are companies whose sole purpose is to generate essays for high school and college students (in exchange for a fee, of course).  Sure, essay mills claim that the papers are meant just to help the students write their own original papers, but with names such as echeat.com, it’s pretty clear what their real purpose is.

Professors in general are very worried about essay mills and their impact on learning, but not knowing exactly what essay mills are or the quality of their output, it is hard to know how worried we should be. So together with Aline Grüneisen, I decided to check it out.  We ordered a typical college term paper from four different essay mills, and as the topic of the paper we chose…  (surprise!) Cheating.

Here is the description of the task that we gave the four essay mills:

“When and why do people cheat? Consider the social circumstances involved in dishonesty, and provide a thoughtful response to the topic of cheating. Address various forms of cheating (personal, at work, etc.) and how each of these can be rationalized by a social culture of cheating.”

We requested a term paper for a university level social psychology class, 12 pages long, using 15 sources (cited and referenced in a bibliography), APA style, to be completed in the next 2 weeks, which we felt was a pretty basic and conventional request. The essay mills charged us in advance, between $150 to $216 per paper.

Two weeks later, what we received what would best be described as gibberish. A few of the papers attempt to mimic APA style, but none achieve it without glaring errors. Citations were sloppy, and the reference lists abominable – including outdated and unknown sources, many of which were online news stories, editorial posts or blogs, and some that were simply broken links. In terms of the quality of the writing itself, the authors of all four papers seemed to have a very tenuous grasp of the English language, or even how to format an essay. Paragraphs jumped bluntly from one topic to another, and often fell into the form of a list, counting off various forms of cheating or providing a long stream of examples that were never explained or connected to the “thesis” of the paper. Here are some excerpts from the four papers:

“Cheating by healers. Healing is different. There is harmless healing, when healers-cheaters and wizards offer omens, lapels, damage to withdraw, the husband-wife back and stuff. We read in the newspaper and just smile. But these days fewer people believe in wizards.”

“If the large allowance of study undertook on scholar betraying is any suggestion of academia and professors’ powerful yearn to decrease scholar betraying, it appeared expected these mind-set would component into the creation of their school room guidelines.”

“By trusting blindfold only in stable love, loyalty, responsibility and honesty the partners assimilate with the credulous and naïve persons of the past.“

“Women have a much greater necessity to feel special.”

“The future generation must learn for historical mistakes and develop the sense of pride and responsibility for its actions.”

At this point we were rather relieved, figuring that the day is not here where students can submit papers from essay mills and get good grades for them.  Moreover, we concluded that if students did try to buy a paper from an essay mill, just like us, they would feel that they have wasted their money and won’t try it again.

But the story does not end here.  We submitted the four essays to WriteCheck.com, a website that inspects papers for plagiarism and found that two of the papers were 35-39% copied from existing works. We decided to take action with the two largely plagiarized papers, and contacted the essay mills requesting our money back. Despite the solid proof that we provided, the companies insisted that they did not plagiarize. One company even tried to threaten us by saying that they will get in touch with the dean at Duke to alert them to the fact that we submitted work that is not ours (just imagine being a student who had used the paper for a class!).

The bottom line?  I think that the technological revolution has not yet solved students’ problems.  They still have no other option but to actually work on their papers (or maybe cheat the old fashioned way and copy from friends).  But I do worry about the existence of essay mills and the signal that they send to our students. As for our refund, we are still waiting…

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cheatingmoralityThe (Honest) Truth about Dishonesty

And you have to find perfect hooks for an essay even when you don’t know what to write about.

When you are asked to write an essay, it doesn’t mean that you don’t get to express your own thoughts and creativity. An essay shouldn’t be boring or too formal. As a writer, your first priority is to make sure that you are keeping your audience in mind and writing for them and to them. That means grabbing and keeping their attention so that they want to read every word.

This is exactly why the essay hook exists and is such an important tool.

The use of hooks in writing goes far beyond just essays and college papers. Every writer, copywriter, screenwriter, and storyteller uses this device to draw in readers and keep them hooked. For example, world-famous ad executive, David Ogilvy, relied on a list of 29 “magic words” that he used in titles in order to hook a client’s attention.

College essay hooks can be difficult to generate, especially when you are still working on clarifying what your essay is going to say. So, the very first step in writing a strong essay hook is to do some planning.

  • A literary quote
  • This type of hook is appropriate when you are writing about a particular author, story, literary phenomenon, book, etc. Using a quote will make your essay sound fresh and establish your authority as an author.

    Examples:

    “So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.” These words of Nick Carraway perfectly describe…”

    “Not all those who wander are lost.” And yes, indeed, every person is so…”

    “When we love, we always strive to become better than we are. When we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better too.” Agree or not, but these words from The Alchemist determine…”

  • Quotes from Famous People
  • Including a quote from an authoritative and influential person can help support your argument and create an intriguing hook. The key is to make sure that you clearly show how the quote is relevant to your essay.

    Examples:

    “John Wooden once said, ‘Never mistake activity for achievement.'”

    “Learn to laugh” were the first words from my kindergarten teacher after Ralph Thorsen spilled paint on my daffodil picture.

  • Anecdote
  • Don’t be afraid to employ this type of hook. Remember, even if you start with a humorous anecdote, it doesn’t mean that your entire essay has to be funny. A bit of humor can help you grab readers’ attention and spark their interest in the topic.

    Examples:

    “As my cousin and I pedaled our new bikes to the beach, 6 years old, suntanned and young, we met an old, shaggy-haired man weaving unsteadily on a battered old bike.”

    “When I was a young boy, my father worked at a coal mine. For 27 years, he made it his occupation to scrape and claw and grunt his way into the bowels of the earth, searching for fuel. On April 19, 2004, the bowels of the earth clawed back.”

    Keep in mind that most essay assignments will ask you to avoid using the first person. Be sure to check any requirements before using “I” in your writing.

  • Pose a Question
  • Almost nothing can attract interest better than a well-constructed question. Readers will want to continue reading your essay in order to discover the answer. Be sure to avoid simple “Yes” or “No” questions and try to pose questions that ask reader to consider the other side or engage in some critical thinking.

    Examples:

    “What would you do if you could play God for a day? That’s exactly what the leaders of the tiny island nation of Guam tried to answer.”

    “Have you ever wondered, whether Anna Karenina still loved Alexei if she hadn’t decided to commit a suicide?”

  • Set a Scene
  • People respond well to visual cues. Taking the time to set a detailed scene will help your reader have a clear picture in their minds and create an effective hook. You can describe an incident or detail the particular features of a person or a character to help the readers become immersed in your writing.

    Examples:

    “The day of his birth began with Hurricane Charlie pounding at our door in Charleston, South Carolina.”

    “Deciding to attend Hampton Roads Academy, a private school, was one of my most difficult decisions.”

  • Include an Interesting Fact or Definition
  • These types of hooks start by surprising the reader with something that may not have known. Provide an interesting fact about something you are going to discuss in your essay’s body and your audience will want to keep reading to learn more.

    Examples:

    “Spain, though hardly a literary juggernaut, translates more books in one year than the entire Arab world has in the past one thousand years.”

    “Amiable is the best way to describe Elizabeth’s personality: she was friendly and caring.”

  • State Your Thesis
  • There is no harm in getting right to the point. Start with your main argument and use the rest of your essay to support your point of view. If you have an interesting take on a subject, readers will want to see where you came up with your idea.

    Examples:

    “It is time, at last, to speak the truth about Thanksgiving, and the truth is this. Thanksgiving is really not such a terrific holiday. . .”

    “Humans need to invest more time and money into space exploration because Earth is on a certain path to destruction.”

  • Reveal a Common Misconception
  • The most interesting essays will teach the readers something new. If you start your introduction by showing that a commonly accepted truth is actually false, your readers will be instantly hooked.

    Examples:

    “Any parent will tell you that goldfish are a great first pet for a child. They hardly need any attention, and they won’t be around for too long. Flushing a goldfish in its first week is pretty common—it even happened to my first goldfish. But it turns out that goldfish aren’t as helpless as we all think.”

    “While most coffee enthusiasts would tell you that their favorite drink comes from a bean, they would be wrong. Coffee is actually made from a seed that is simply called a bean.”

  • Statistics
  • By listing proven facts at the very beginning of your paper, you will create interest that can be carried throughout the rest of the essay.

    Examples:

    “The average iceberg weighs over 100,000 metric tons.”

    “70% of all jobs found today were got through different networking strategies”

    We started getting requests about editing help, tutoring or recommending someone for essay writing. Here’s the page to visit for more information: bid4papers.com/write-my-essay.

    Depending on the style of essay you are writing (narrative, persuasive, personal, critical, argumentative, deductive, etc.), the type of hook you will want to use will vary. Remember, your essay hook is just a tip of an iceberg and it will not guarantee that the rest of your essay will work. Be sure to organize your research and start with an outline before deciding on the best hook to start your essay. The right choice can make your paper truly interesting and worth reading.

    Written by Lesley J. Vos, our blog writer and essay proofreader. Lesley is a big fan of reading, and she is always ready to help students come up with good ideas for their papers and reach their academic goals. You can always find her on Facebook and Google+.

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