Plagiarism Inc. (Oxbridge Essays)
I am currently having a little quarrel with a UK company, Plagiarism Inc. (for legal reasons I should probably state that this alias was made up by me), selling essays to students who are too incompetent, lazy or rich to write them themselves.
A bit of background; I, along with several other DPhil students at the Saïd Business School, were approached by the ‘Head of Recruitment’, offering us work as ‘writers’.
— Email received on 12 May —
My name is XX, writing from the recruitment department at Oxbridge Essays. We have a shortage of students with PhDs in management studies and we wonder whether you would like to write for us? Below is a short introduction to the company and our services; if you would like to sign-up, please just follow the link at the bottom of the page and we’ll email you the relevant information.
Oxbridge Essays employs 1000+ Oxford University and Cambridge University educated writers to produce model academic research such as essays, dissertations, personal statements, CVs and so on for a predominantly international clientele. We now have a number of short-term and long-term writing positions available. Writers can make as much as £600 for one 2000 word essay and £50,000+ a year working frequently. As a PhD student writer, you have no obligations whatsoever to undertake work for us, and may work just during vacations if you prefer or take on the occasional piece during term. Alternatively, we offer PhD researchers short-term and long-term contracts for quotas of work should you prefer.
Additionally, Oxbridge Essays offers a range of scholarships and sponsorships for Oxbridge PhD students worth up to £10,000 per student. Moreover, we offer gap-year, travel and research grants of up to £5,000 per student.
Moreover, our SAFI scheme (Sign-a-Friend-Initiative) rewards you for recommending Oxbridge friends and colleagues to the company, with fees of up to £150 per PhD student recommended and £200 per academic lecturer.
If you have any interest in the above, please visit the writers’ section of our website at the following link: http://www.oxbridgeessays.com/more_info.asp?current_id=183.
If you would like to apply, please complete the short application-form at http://www.oxbridgeessays.com/apply.asp.
For all questions please us on 0870 043 4764 or email this same address.
Head of Recruitment,
— Email sent on 12 May —
I am not interested – it is a bit too dodgy for me – but thanks for the offer.
— Email received on 12 May —
Thank you for your reply. Perhaps indeed you have been misinformed about the nature of our service; please indulge us a few words to explain why the actual nature of our service is contrary to how it has seemed to you.
From the client’s side, our service is an online version of private tutorship: a practice regarded as wholesome and edifying by most people in academia. Just as a private tutor, by sitting with him, by elucidating key concepts and approaches for him and by writing-out ideal solutions, teaches a struggling pupil how to help himself so too we provide the same assistance via the internet. No one accuses a private tutor of abusing his mind when he helps his pupils and we see no moral difference between the two practices. It is true that the help given by a private tutor is harder to abuse in terms of plagiarism than certain types of work we undertake, but our clients are independent adults capable of their own decision-making and thus of deciding whether to use our services appropriately or not. We have a responsibility of course to ensure that pupils do not misuse our work, and to this end we require of all clients that they sign three separate legal agreements forbidding them from using our work as their own; but our responsibility has a limit, and beyond this our clients must make their own decisions. A pharmacist when selling a packet of paracetamol assumes, unless he has evidence to the contrary, that the shopper buying the tablets intends to use them to relieve a headache and not to overdose; and just as the pharmacist cannot follow the shopper home to ensure that in her home she uses the pills for their proper purpose, so too we have no possibility or right to follow pupils from the time we send them their work. Ballooning class-sizes and a negligent abandonment by professors of their duty to teach pupils how to write well are facts of modern British education; not finding such help in its proper place students naturally look for alternative help and for companies like ours. In the case of international students – these forming 80% of our clientele – the desperation is especially acute. What we offer such students is an example of how to write an excellent UK academic piece: a piece which we hope will inspire them to write in the same way themselves. Our service is a necessary and pragmatic tool used by students disregarded by their proper educational guardians. Finally, you might consider that the majority of our services, such as CVs, personal statements, revision-sheets, cover-letters and so on, simply cannot be misused by students because there is no opportunity for passing off our work as their own; a revision-sheet, for example, can only be used for revision and could never be submitted for marking to a board or faculty.
From the writer’s side, if you regard what I have said above as valid then there is nothing unethical or academically dubious about working for us. Rather we offer often very under-funded students an opportunity to earn an excellent wage with total flexibility of working time: thus enhancing students’ study both by sharply cutting the number of hours they would otherwise have to spend working in poorly-paid jobs to pay for their fees, or otherwise have to study part-time instead of full-time. Indeed, through our scholarship and sponsorship schemes several Oxbridge postgraduates have been able to finance courses which would otherwise have been untenable.
If what has been written above makes you look differently at what we do then you are cordially invited to accept our application to write; you are also welcome to restrict your writing to CVs, revision-sheets etc., if this makes you feel more comfortable.
Please just complete an application at the link given in the previous email if you wish to join.
— Email sent on 12 May —
For crying out loud, who are you trying to fool here?
Do you honestly believe that students who are stressed out and working to tight deadlines pay large amounts of money for a “full dissertation [...] custom-written to your exact question” in order to get INSPIRED?
I was perusing your website for a bit, but could not find any information on the legal agreements you mentioned – exactly when in the process do you ask people to sign them?
If you were worried about plagiarism, as you claim to be, why on earth would you put statements like this on your website: “In addition, your dissertation will be fully custom-made, and will never be re-sold, re-published or stored on any database of any kind.“?
Surely, if you were delivering ‘model’ pieces of writing, it would not matter whether it was publicly available.
I find the service and you as a person despicable. I am alarmed that people like you have graduated from university and subsequently decided to undermine the pillars on which good scholarship is built: merit, work and innovative thinking.
— Email received on 12 May —
Such mindless and blinkeredness indignation is breathtaking. No doubt you believe Mr. Said to be the embodiment of the virtues you espouse in your final paragraph and do not find your moral stance to be hypocritically contradicted by studying in a school with such an honourable and noble benefactor!
— Last email sent on 12 May —
I obviously hit a nerve here, may I kindly remind you that you did not answer my questions.
As you may know, SBS [Saïd Business School] has hosted people such as Nelson Mandela, Al Gore and a broad range of social pioneers. I would never compare myself to them, but I would be interested to hear whether they fall under your ‘unethical’ category, too? Also, do you consider Rhodes scholars, such as Bill Clinton, bad people?
FYI, I am fully funded by Dr James Martin at the James Martin Institute for Science and Civilization.
— Status: awaiting a reply —
If you would like to share your opionion on this matter, you might want to join the Facebook group, “Oxbridge Students Against ‘Oxbridge Essays‘”. At present, some
200 300 400 500 600 people have already signed up.
I would be interested in any sort of advice on how to bring a company like this to the ground.