Feb 21, 2011

54% of students guilty of plagiarism

Caelainn Hogan

A University Times survey of 681 students has shown that over half of students have contravened Trinity’s plagiarism policy by enlisting the help of a friend to complete their assignment. A further 18% of students admitted including work copied from other students in their submitted assignments.
When confronted with the large number of students admitting plagiarism, Trinity’s Communications Office pointed to the College Calendar, which states that “Any material used in a piece of work, of any form, that is not the original thought of the author should be fully referenced in the work and attributed to its source.”
When asked what safeguards are put in place to deal with the problem of plagiarism in College, the Communications Office acknowledged only that “safeguards can vary at school/department level.”
The survey also found that over 70% of students either have no knowledge or only some knowledge of Trinity policies on plagiarism.
This news comes as a new company which promises to provide “authentic academic papers written by high calibre postgraduates.”
Launched on February 7th, the Wicklow based company Write My Assignments is the first of its kind in Ireland, and they have  confirmed to the University Times that they already have three projects pending for Trinity students. The brain child of Michael Noble and Matthew Kehoe, who both studied Business and Enterprise at IADT, the company currently caters for ten universities in Ireland and has 566 graduates confirmed as writers, 186 of which are Trinity graduates. Through the website http://writemyassigments.com, undergraduates can commission a document written by a graduate of the course they are taking who has achieved qualifications of II.1 or above. The student identifies his or her academic course from those listed on the website, provides a brief of the academic assignment and their current average grade. Due to the flexibility Write My Assignments gives its writers, it will first find a writer who is willing to complete the project, and then will agree on a timeframe and quote. Write My Assignments assure the UT that “Every project is unique, so every project has a unique price”, giving a €220-300 estimate for a 2,000 word paper. The student pays a 25% deposit before the writer commences work and pays the total on receiving the completed document. Throughout the process updates and drafts are provided and the student can communicate any alterations to suit his or her specifications. The service ensures complete privacy and confidentiality throughout and after the process.
Since launching, Write My Assignments have completed 14 projects, with 8 pending, including the 3 for Trinity. Trinity has proven the most difficult to provide for, due to the “huge amount of courses”. Michael and Matthew see their service as “a system that enhances educational progression”, similar to grinds, and the website states that the documents can be used as a guideline and academic aide for research purposes. When asked whether they thought students were likely to hand in the assignment as their own, both stated firmly “We don’t condone that” and explained, “We’re producing a document from original thought from someone who has knowledge in the area; what the student chooses to do from then on, that’s their own choice.” Only just launched, they have been “inundated with phone calls and emails, we’ve had a lot of requests from people looking for quotes, in the last 8 days we’ve had 200 people following us on Facebook, at least 60 or 70 emails”. In the future they plan to expand and cover all Irish colleges, stating “It’ll take time, but we definitely want to expand throughout Ireland, and into rural Ireland, that’s where we see it going.”
When asked in the survey if they would avail of such a service as Write My Assignments, 11% of students said yes.
Even when used as a research aide, a student would be required by the College plagiarism policy to reference the Write My Assignments document in their relevant academic work. Write My Assignments remains adamant, however, that their business does not encourage plagiarism, and when asked would they not promote themselves through colleges, they said “It’d be excellent to get the colleges behind us”; certainly a bold statement from a very confident new enterprise, leaving responsibility solely in the hands of the students who avail of the service.

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