Two years ago, we were part of a grant study under the
Department of Education
, to determine the (1) accuracy, integrity and validity
of information that is dissimulated on the internet; and 2) if individuals do
in-depth research on this information to determine whether the data is true or
false or if the individuals take the information at face value without further
The study was to be used particularly for higher educational
research in colleges and universities, where the use of academic writing
websites and plagiarism in social science, science, and business areas were
becoming an epidemic of proportion with Millennials (the current age grouping)
and the corporate world in order to get subcontractors for contracts and RFPs.
All parameter data tracking and follow-up was
accomplished with proprietary computer generated software for this project and
the results were also used to accomplish several investigative journalistic
pieces for publication.
We created a “false” business website with a “kernel of
truth” and expounded on its informational value with plagiarism, untruths and
creativity on a weekly basis to see how long it would take at least one
individual to question the information provided within the website. It took sixteen
(16) months before someone “spoke up.”
This was sixteen months of this website
being used as resource for term papers, research papers, business reports, and
case studies by individuals in the corporate world and in the academic
During this time period, we also “joined” several academic
writing websites as writers and contributors to determine exactly how this
information was being utilized and the process by which “this information” was
being purchased by clients of these sites.
We were astonished at the results we were finding.
What is actually amusing to our researchers was the fact
that we were “validated” by watchdog groups and academic sites without their
conducting any investigation into the information provided on our “website.”
We were asked to write term papers and homework assignments
for high school students with averaging payment between $20.00 to $60.00
depending on complexity.
We were asked to take online tests at colleges and
universities who utilize the Blackboard or similar allegedly secure sites that
only students should be able to access with login and password – we were given
these at the time of assignment.
asked to write term papers, research papers, homework assignments, pop quizzes
for freshman through senior level college students, particularly in the
medical, nursing, and business curriculum.
The really amazing
fact was that we were asked to write 100 to 500 pages of thesis or
dissertations for Master level or PhD level clients, who wanted the degree to
obtain the next rung on their professional ladder without having to do the hard
work of research and writing and were paid between $500 – 2,000 per paper
depending on subject matter, complexity and length. These included social science, criminal
justice, medical, nursing, and hard-core science fields.
The young adults, who are entering college or have been in
college within the past ten years, utilize the internet extensively as a
research and resource tool – why not? It
is very simple to plug in a search list and get a tremendous amount of “fluff”
pieces or inaccurate information in which to base their academic papers in
order to get their degree without the sweat and tears of having to validate the
information the old fashion way – in libraries with books.
The bygone years of taking quizzes, tests and finals in
class, doing homework assignments, research and term papers and turning them
into the teacher in class and having to make multiple trips to the libraries,
going through books, microfiche and tomes have become obsolete with the “instant
technology era” in today’s society.
Educational facilities are finding that the
onslaught of plagiarized papers and purchased works by students and
corporations and businesses losing contracts by misinformation is discouraging
in the least.
Colleges and universities are being hit the hardest. With the prevalence of pursuing degrees
through coursework at online “higher and technical “ schools and the high
percentage of dependency of brick & mortar schools utilizing academic work
submission through online programs, teachers and professors have to become “watchdogs”
over each and every student in their classes – which range from 30 to 600 at a
Clickers, a portable handheld device, are used for
attendance or answering questions on a special background in the classroom
settings. Students that attend classes
are being paid to take a non-attending student’s clicker and “forge” their
classroom attendance on a daily basis.
Online tests and exams are being taken as a “group” by telephoning or
texting answers over the phones or getting together and working on laptops.
Others are being paid to write responses to classroom
topic discussions, write 600 word essays to full-blown research papers and
anything else that one can think of instead of doing the work themselves.
When individuals and groups were asked during follow-up of
findings, why they cheated and failed to perform research to validate their
information, we were given responses: 1) “I don’t have time to research and
write papers with all I have to do in my life”, 2) “it’s not hurting anyone”,
3) “I am working full time and going to school, I don’t have time to be in the
library doing research”; 4) “I need my degree to get a promotion and I have a
family to take care of too”, 5) “We need the contract to keep afloat and just
don’t have the personnel and time to check every little thing” and so on, in
this same vain.
What is appalling is that these are the future of America
and the leaders of tomorrow in their chosen fields!
As use of the internet as a
sole research tool and purchase of “degrees” has become an epidemic, we truly
need to look at our primary, secondary and higher educational systems and fix
them before it is too late.