Paper Mills Sites
As Learning Tools

“The papers on the paid sites are better than those on the free ones, but that's not saying much. The first essay I encountered at one site cost $25.95 and still had two errors in the title alone.”

    --David Plotz
    “New Frontiers in Cheating”

Search the BigNerds or School Sucks to find a research paper or essay similar to one that might be required for your class. Unfortunately, you need to register for both the BigNerds and School Sucks websites; a process that requires you to use your e-mail address. My suggestion is that you create a separate e-mail account to use for this purpose. Because paper mill sites would prefer that you buy a paper rather than accept one of the free papers, most “free” paper mill sites only offer a limited selection of free papers. Big Nerds and School Sucks are no exception. Therefore, you might have some trouble finding a Big Nerd or School Sucks paper that exactly fits your subject.

Please Note: BigNerds and School Sucks, like most paper mill sites, try to direct you to papers for which you will have to pay. Make sure you are searching for free papers; not being directed to a pay-for-paper website.

Once you have found an appropriate paper, evaluate the quality of the paper using the grading rubric or list of quality standards that your instructor has provided to you; the standards she/he will use to evaluate your papers. Assume that the BigNerds paper was written by someone else in your class. What grade do you think your professor would award? What advice would you give the author to improve the paper to get a better grade in the course?

If you are not sure how your instructor is planning to evaluate your paper, you should make an appointment to see him/her during office hours or at a mutually convenient time. Office hours and other contact information are available on your syllabus.

If you cannot find an appropriate paper at BigNerds, Margaret Fain and Peggy Bates (2005) have identified approximately "250 Paper Mill Sites" on the Internet as well as "71 Subject Specific Paper Mills." You could always try to find a paper at one of these sites.

Teaching Students to Cheat?

Some might question the wisdom of providing directions on how to find Internet paper mills. After all, in 1999, Donald L. McCabe found that most of the high school students he studied felt “that their teachers were not familiar with computer technology, and they found it easy to plagiarize using the Internet.” Since then, much has changed. Teachers at the high school and college level have become sophisticated in their Internet use.

Over the past few years, I have helped train members of the Schoolcraft College faculty on how to use the Internet to track down papers they believe were plagiarized. I have also done searches on behalf of computer illiterate instructors who thought that one of their students had plagiarized. So only use the papers at the paper mill sites only for educational purposes. After all, that is the reason these sites claim to exist.

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