Amazing article about successful cheating

If you haven’t read “The Shadow Scholar” in the Chronicle, it is well worth your time. Assuming it’s true (and the Chronicle mentions having done some fact-checking), the narrative provides an amazing look at how students at all levels of academia can successfully use highly skilled ghostwriters.  

The writer has a witty style, so the essay is entertaining as well as disturbing.

1 thought on “Amazing article about successful cheating


    Good find, although it could have been a few hundred words shorter 🙂 I guess that’s a writer for you! The hard thing to parse out here is the frequency of students that use this. The writer makes it sound rampant, but I find that hard to believe. I have heard some graduate students ponder ‘I wish there was a service I could use to finish my thesis. I’d pay xxx thousand for it to just be DONE!’ I take most of those comments as frustration and blowing off steam. But it also makes me ask: How does a service like this connect with customers? This isn’t exactly something I see advertised on websites. This might be a ripe topic for a student focus group down the road.

    A few quotes that I found interesting:

    “From my experience, three demographic groups seek out my services: the English-as-second-language student; the hopelessly deficient student; and the lazy rich kid.”
    I wonder how this audience breaks down? The data geek in my can already see interesting ways to cut up this data (if it were available!) to find all sorts of interesting trends.

    “The focus on evaluation rather than education means that those who haven’t mastered English must do so quickly or suffer the consequences. ”
    – It’s the first part of this sentence, the focus on evaluation rather than education, that jumped off the page at me. I recently was told that some of the big privates and Ivy’s DO NOT GRADE freshman, simply encouraging them to take ownership of their education and fous on learning as a process. Then grading kicks in year two. I think this practice is a counter to this idea that education is all about evaluation.

    The final quote below I found very compelling. It’s apparent to me that this writer could, probably with ease, compete a PhD program somewhere. This is the process that nearly all my graduate students leveraged during thesis writing. And I feel it’s a good process. How is it that a ‘ghost writer’ is so good at the process and can churn out thousands of pages of graduate-level material, but many of our students go ABD because they can’t get a good grip on this process?

    “First I lay out the sections of an assignment—introduction, problem statement, methodology, literature review, findings, conclusion—whatever the instructions call for. Then I start Googling.
    Amazon is quite generous about free samples. If I can find a single page from a particular text, I can cobble that into a report, deducing what I don’t know from customer reviews and publisher blurbs. Google Scholar is a great source for material, providing the abstract of nearly any journal article. And of course, there’s Wikipedia, which is often my first stop when dealing with unfamiliar subjects. Naturally one must verify such material elsewhere, but I’ve taken hundreds of crash courses this way.”

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