The work I’ve been involved with on contract cheating over the past decade has looked at students who pay for work to be completed for them online. This is a concerning behaviour. Students who do not complete their own learning are not gaining the skills they need for employment and the workplace.
A worrying trend that has emerged in recent years are essay mills (also known as term paper mills) that are designed to cater for students from particular academic disciplines.
You can find essay mills aimed at law students, business students, computing students or any academic discipline that you can think of.
From the point of view of the company marketing essay writing services to students, this is a smart decision. Providing niche essay mills means that students are more likely to find your company online. They are also more likely to trust that you have the academic ability to help them with their particular subject or academic discipline.
Actually, the truth is far less clear-cut. Investigations that I’ve been involved with have shown that most of these companies are not as specialised as they make out. The same company is often providing services through several different trading names. Each of these uses the same pool of writers, regardless of which entry point was used to get the students involved with these services.
The growth of essay mills in subject specific areas is also of concern when fitness to practice is considered. Nursing is a particular example which has been identified. Here, students need to leave their academic course with practical and mathematical skills that they will use on a hospital ward or with patients.
When students see nursing essay mills online, this is an encouragement for them to cheat and to receive help that they are not entitled to. This can mean that they end up being in front of patients, but lacking the medical care skills needed to support them with their conditions. The issue becomes one of public safety.
There are all kinds of things that could go wrong when a nurse who is not properly qualified ends up working with patients. There have been instances identified in the media where patients have been dispensed the wrong prescription drugs, or provided with the incorrect amount of medication. Patient notes be recorded incorrectly, leading to problems down the line. Nurses who have taken short cuts during their educational journey may continue to do so when put in front of patients.
As a result, I strongly discourage prospective nurses who are tempted to use essay mills from doing so. Previous examples looking at the essays produced by these services have shown that they are often not very good. Nurses have been caught attempting to cheat, removed from their courses and subsequently never able to get a job in the caring profession.
It is much better for students to do their own work. Academic assessments in nursing are set for a reason and do directly lead onto nursing placements and the day-to-day work that will be undertaken. Only by avoiding and eliminating the temptations to cheat can we be assured that all nurses are able to provide the standard of hospital care that we should expect.
Dr. Thomas Lancaster is an expert researcher in the prevention and detection of student