The contract cheating industry
If you were so inclined, you could do an Internet search for essays and you’d find yourselves bombarded with essay mill companies offering that service.
When I’m giving research presentations, I often joke that if I wasn’t an academic, I could make a lot more money working in the contract cheating industry. That means helping students to cheat by writing essays and completing assignments for them. Of course, I would never do it. By doing so, I’d be throwing away a career in which I’ve spent over twenty years working to upheld academic integrity. But many people around the world feel that working in the contract cheating industry is right for them.
Deep down though, writing essays for students is not an easy way to make a living. If you were so inclined, you could do an Internet search for essays and you’d find yourselves bombarded with essay mill companies offering that service. Prices and quality vary, but you could easily find yourself paying a few hundred dollars for a bespoke essay.
But, as my research published in the International Journal for Educational Integrity shows, the majority of essay writers aren’t earning anywhere near that much.
Pricing and essay mills
I explored a popular micro-outsourcing website where individuals advertise and sell services. A wide variety of services is available through this website. Among those, there are firms and individuals offering essay writing services.
As my investigation shows, you can buy a 2000-word essay on that site and pay an average price of just $12. That’s by connecting directly to a writer and cutting out a big business essay mill. On the micro-outsourcing site, you can find writers who claim to be highly qualified, experienced at crafting essays that get high marks and with reviews from previous satisfied customers that back up those claims. I calculated t that nearly $100,000 a year of essay writing business goes through that one site alone and there are many more like it.
Still, most writers operate from countries where the economic situation means that lower wages still make sense to them.
It might look like a good deal for a student wanting to cheat, but how can working for hours to make $12 be a good deal for the writer? Well, believe it or not, writers advertise on micro-outsourcing sites like this one because for them it is a better deal than working for an essay mill. That might give you some idea what many of the larger companies pay for this type of work. Still, most writers operate from countries where the economic situation means that lower wages still make sense to them. My research found that most writers said they were based in Kenya.
Cheap essays lead to big business
Essay mills turn over millions every year. That’s how cheap essays lead to big business.
So, if I wouldn’t become an essay writer, how would I make money from the contract cheating industry? That’s simple. I would set up a company charging students a high price for essay writing, but then send the orders on to people willing to write for far less. There are hundreds of essay mills already doing just that, completely separate to all the individually operating writers.
Essay mills turn over millions every year. That’s how cheap essays lead to big business. That’s why we need to act to ensure that academic qualifications continue to hold their value.