By December 2, 2011 12 Comments Read More →

Shame on This Student for Paying Someone to do his Lean Homework

Hat tip to Michel Baudin for pointing this out (check out his relatively new blog). Freelancer.com is a site where you can outsource tasks or projects. For example, paying somebody to write a marketing brochure for your company would be a legitimate use of this service.

Sadly, a student paying somebody to write an academic paper (a classroom assignment) for them would NOT be a legitimate use. But, it is happening.

See the link to the “job” the student posted: “ERP and Lean Manufacturing – Simple Academic Essay.”

The student is hiding behind an anonymous user name (crazylarry23). He is from Varsity Lakes, Australia (outside of Brisbane). That’s all we can know about him from the profile (that and he just joined the site, apparently for this particular case of academic cheating). Maybe this is a one-time mistake and not a habit.

The description, in case it gets taken down:

Project ID:  1311605

Project Type:  Fixed

Budget:  $30-$50 USD

Project Description:

This is a POSTGRADUATE MASTERS LEVEL paper.

It should NOT be plagiarised in anyway and references must be stated.
It is relatively simple, it just takes time and a lot of references.

Personally, I am out of time and juggling many other tasks at the same time which would make my work a very average quality which I cannot afford.

The whole paper concerns this question: ‘Is ERP compatible with Lean?

Please follow the guidelines of the attached paper.

Here is the class assignment he attached:  Bpassign.docx  (you would otherwise have to create a Freelancer account to read it there).

Ironically, the student says the paper he is buying “should NOT be plagiarised.”

Well, at least he has some standards ;-)

This is really sad. I can appreciate being a busy graduate student (as I was one once), but buying a paper is certainly not the right way to address the situation.

I emailed this to Jonathan Bailey of the website CopyByte  (I saw him give a talk on copyright issues and the web at a conference last year and have followed his  blog, Plagiarism Today, ever since).

Quoting Jonathan (with his permission):

It is crazy. But it’s also very common. However, what makes this unique is that he’s doing it on  freelancer.com  rather than one of the dozens of essay sites dedicated to this exact behavior.

I have a feeling that this won’t end well for him as I seriously doubt the  freelancer.com  crowd is going to take kindly to this kind of behavior…

Most students who go this route, using freelancer, essay mill or similar sites to write their papers, often find that the work they buy is plagiarized, despite guarantees that it won’t be. Not only is there no honor among thieves in these cases, but there’s no practical way a person can write a high-caliber paper for the price asked in the time allotted.

Plagiarism, for the person taking the job, is almost a necessity.

Sadly, and maybe not surprisingly, he received NINE bids, offering to write his paper for anywhere from $45 to $150. The cheater selected an author from Pakistan who is doing this for $50. No honor amongst thieves, indeed.


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Mark Graban's passion is creating a better, safer, more cost effective healthcare system for patients and better workplaces for all. Mark is a consultant, author, and speaker in the "Lean healthcare" methodology. He is author of the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, as well as The Executive Guide to Healthcare Kaizen. His most recent project is an eBook titled Practicing Lean that benefits the Louise H. Batz Patient Safety Foundation, where Mark is a board member. Mark is also the VP of Improvement & Innovation Services for the technology company KaiNexus.

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12 Comments on "Shame on This Student for Paying Someone to do his Lean Homework"

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  1. For that price, he could buy a lean six sigma master black belt certification!

  2. Mark Graban
    Twitter:
    says:

    CrazyLarry also bought a 2nd paper via Freelancer:

    https://www.freelancer.com/projects/1310444.html

    Sad.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I’m curious what you think of the following viewpoints:

    1) Norm Bodek has been getting paid big dollars to expound on the notion that we squash learning in schools by discouraging copying, mimicking, cheating, etc. He admits that his theory is considered heresy but if you have sat in one of his seminars, you walk away with a good understanding and know why he goes there. In other words, some great minds in history were absolute failures from an academic perspective and did not fit within the modern education model, yet somehow they are heralded as worldwide role models.

    2) There are many reasons to allow cheating to happen, but to name one – copying encourages discussion, questioning, teaching and learning in healthy environments with strong follow up using the teacher/student/mentoring model. Think of modern day kaizen systems where we encourage people to copy ideas from all elements of life, past experience and examples. Is this considered cheating? Should we copyright kaizen suggestions in order to protect the idea originator? If this was the mind set for the past several hundred years, then I can imagine this is the reason why so few suggestions are made today. Only a few, pure ideas can be generated on a daily basis.

    3) Some people can’t learn as effectively as others without seeing another viewpoint first. It is one thing to hear what the teacher wants to tell you, it is another to hear a contrary view or detailed analysis from somebody else who is capable of explaining in a different way or relating to you in a meaningful way.

    4) Most importantly, the criticism leveled against this student makes the assumption that a) the student is doing something morally wrong and b) he won’t learn anything by using this approach. These are both fundamentally wrong assumptions for the following reasons.

    First, to address the morality issue, he readily admits that he won’t be able to dedicate his time adequately to the task of researching and decides that by delegating the job to somebody else for that reason alone. You and I ask people to build houses, fix cars, install electronics, etc., every day and pay more than the $50 per job that he was willing to spend to acquire some knowledge. Are we cheating when we don’t take the time to learn how to repair an engine, or build a house, or install a wireless router?

    The moral offense argument also suggests that the act is a disrespectful offense against other students’ efforts. This again assumes that the offender will not appreciate the hard work that went into the learning. How do we know this is true? If it is false, then the moral offense argument falls all together, since the supposed offender may actually learn more than the other students.

    Now, if a student chooses to research sources for a paper herself and not employ somebody else to do the work as the cheater did, how do we know that her intentions are pure? Just because she does the work, doesn’t equate to a pure original idea free of plagiarism. This again, allows the moral argument against buying the knowledge to fall apart since we have no assurance that a student who labored to create a work did so with the purest intentions.

    The real problem that this student will face, as I see it, is an economic one. He is about to discover whether his calculation is correct. Is $50 the price to acquire the knowledge he needs to a) learn something, and b) obtain a grade that would be better than he assumed he could get by putting in the minimal effort. If the grade reflects something learned, then it is money well spent.

    I argue that for $50, he is procuring little time for somebody to do a proper job of arguing for or against the compatibility of ERP software and common sense principles of management. It shows his naivet̩ regarding the practical world of work and I hazard to assume the trivial nature upon which this subject was likely presented in his classroom Рleading him to assume that he could sacrifice the cost of a night at the bar with his buddies for a superficial and plagiarized paper from another college student on the other side of the world who knows nothing of the subject matter.

    So, this is not a moral lesson but essentially an economic one to me…that he has greatly undervalued the value of this job and will learn the cold hard market lesson very soon: you get what you pay for. He will be sorely disappointed with what this cheap market segment has to offer of any worthwhile value. This then, is the consequence that he will rightly receive – not the onset of guilt brought on by a moral argument cheating (for if he accepted that argument he would not have posted the freelance request), but that the value of hard work, acquiring knowledge and turning that into a skill is worth far more than $50 of hard earned money.

  4. So, just to clarify, passing someone else’s work off as your own to get college credit is not immoral? I wonder if the student in question consented to an academic honesty policy when enrolling in graduate school. Most schools have such a policy, and I’d think that all of these policies would prohibit this type of cheating. If that’s the case, then the student didn’t uphold his end of the bargain, and put his or her integrity in question.

    I agree that there are different ways to learn and that people learn in different ways. I also agree that there are real-world lessons to be learned through the act of…ahem…”outsourcing” work and making economic judgments to get things done. But there are also things to learn from researching and writing papers, and that learning is not going to happen for the student in question.

    As a lifelong student myself, I don’t feel cheated if I work hard on a paper and a fellow student pays for one and we get the same grade. I take classes to learn, first and foremost, not just to get a grade. Learning is its own reward. I don’t care what some bozo paying $50 to somebody in Pakistan gets for a grade, although I hope I don’t have to work for that dude someday.
    Michael Lombard recently posted..Top 3 Things I’ve Learned After 18 Months in HealthcareMy Profile

  5. Mark Graban
    Twitter:
    says:

    To Anonymous, I’m really surprised somebody would step up to sort of defend the kid. I thought maybe somebody would say “why expose his youthful indiscretion to the world?” or that I was being too harsh.

    I’m with Mike – the student is most likely violating his school’s honor code or integrity policy. I don’t think you can equate this cheating to merely “outsourcing” work in a business.

    If your boss in a business asked you to write a marketing report on some competitors, how would they react if you said “I got somebody on freelancer.com to do it for me real cheap?”

    A) Say “way to be creative and to use your time effectively”
    B) Say “I told you to do it!!!!!”

    I think the whole thing stinks.

    +1 to Mike for not wanting to work for that guy some day :-) I agree.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Regarding the comment about “passing off somebody else’s work as his own”:

    1) The person he bought the paper from knows exactly what the paper will be used for. No harm or offense there, perfectly legal exchange of goods and services.

    2) If there is an honestly policy, then the cheater’s ONLY harmful offense against another party is done by a breach of contract, if you want to call it that. But it still isn’t plagiarism because he didn’t steal anybody’s idea without them knowing.

    3) I wouldn’t want to work with him either. My point in all of this was not to defend him, but to point out that it isn’t immoral to purchase a paper. The original post implied that a) he would learn nothing from his actions and b) it was morally wrong. The reality is that we don’t know what he will learn from this assignment and second, there are other students working within the bounds of what is considered normal behavior that may not learn as much as he does using other means of acquiring knowledge. Finally, there are students who are legitimately plagiarizing, who won’t get caught and is actually a higher moral offense against the authors (actual theft according to current law) than against those who willingly trade their content for a market price.

  7. john crossan says:

    Probably outsourced his paper in the Management Ethics course too

  8. Mark Graban
    Twitter:
    says:

    An update on this:

    I feel no joy about this, but some online sleuthing and a guess about which university this was (based on the city listed on freelancers.com) led to a response from an administrator about this student and the cheating (I will leave names out of it – the administrator and the university):

    “Thank you very much for bringing this to our attention. Contract cheating has become a major problem everywhere. We have managed to identify the student concerned and I have just submitted a documentation package to our provost for a disciplinary tribunal which will hopefully take a strong stand in this case. I will be pushing for the maximum penalty.”

  9. Chris Geiger says:

    Based on what I’ve read so far, I think it’s fair to define plagiarism. Even if the person whose work you are “passing off as your own” knows you are doing it, its still plagiarism. Plagiarism is the use of another’s work without acknowledgement of that work. You can plagiarize yourself if you write a paper in one class, and use the portions of the same paper in another course without crediting your original work… I’ve seen people at my university get in trouble for that.

  10. Mark Graban
    Twitter:
    says:

    Comment from a facebook friend:

    “As a professor, the sensible and economically efficient alternative is to just cut out the middleman and let students pay you fifty bucks for a C-.”

    He also shared a link to this blog post from a Duke professor, Dan Ariely:

    http://danariely.com/2010/09/15/new-school-year-plagiarism-and-essay-mills/

    Ariely’s conclusion on “essay mills” was that you get a highly plagiarized essay that’s primarily gibberish for $150 to $200.

  11. Mark Graban
    Twitter:
    says:

    Jonathan Bailey pulls no punches in his assessment of this situation over at Plagiarism Today:

    http://www.plagiarismtoday.com/2012/01/05/the-stupid-plagiarist-on-freelancer-com/

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