Detecting and Deterring Ghostwritten Papers: A Guide to Best Practices
Students from all over the world have been getting others to help with their assignments for as long as instructors have been giving such projects. However, over the past decade, there has emerged an entire industry comprising academic and graduates, sometimes referred to as ghostwriters. These individuals are ready and willing to anonymously complete projects and sell them to students willing to pay. Detecting and preventing academic dishonesty has always been a challenge. However, the internet has made it much easier to cheat, and even harder to detect. Here are some tips to help with this process.
Understand Why Students Use Ghostwriters
Students cheat for various reasons, the most notable of which is the excessive emphasis on grades. The education system is unnecessary competitive, with high GPAs linked to better colleges and higher job prospects. Some students do whatever is necessary to succeed, with little concern about acquiring the proficiency needed. Instructors should share the blame for implementing grading systems that encourage competition for the best grades. Instead, the focus ought to be on encouraging students to master the subject matter.
Other reasons why students turn to ghostwriters include:
- Assignments issued too close to the deadline;
- Personal emergencies;
- Lack of motivation;
- Lack of confidence in one’s writing ability.
If you understand your students, you can able to tailor your assessment to bring out the best in each student.
Check the Use of Sources and Examples
Another way to identify essay ghostwriting is by looking at the types of sources used and how they have been incorporated into the text. Actually, ghostwriters and real students use sources differently. For instance, these writers may not be able to access the journals that students do. They mostly draw examples for abstracts and use google books. Check whether the student is able to provide the sources from which they got the material. If it’s a journal article, ask for complete files.
Be on the Lookout for Consistency in Style
Each writer has his or her own style. At the same time, productive ghostwriters are avid recyclers. A writer who has worked on hundreds of similar papers is easily tempted top take parts of each piece and patch them up into a new one. While this trick gets unnoticed by most plagiarism detection tools, to a keen appear the work may seem like a piece of randomly assembled limbs. You also need to look out for fluffy verbosity as it could be a sign of that someone was being paid per word.
Read Carefully Through the Content
The easiest way to detect a ghostwritten paper is by going through the content. You may notice voluntary broadening of the research subject. Furthermore, since you already know what was covered in class, you can easily tell when the principles covered are way beyond what has been discussed. What may seem like extra effort may be actually the perspective of an outsider. After all, as an instructor, you know what your student is capable of.
Here, we have examined some simple strategies to help you in detecting ghostwritten papers. Please note that, if so motivated, some professional writers can work around these signs and generate a fairly undetectable copy. This is, however, rare as most of the ghostwriters are more interested in expedience rather than perfection. Ultimately the only solution is to understand your students and know their writing and basic linguistic abilities. You will find that, if you engage students on a one-on-one basis, encourage group discussions, and try to understand their individual weaknesses and strengths, you can go a long way in preventing such academic fraud.