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OTHER ITA SITES:
The Value of Term Paper Websites
“CITE YOUR SOURCES!” The evils of plagiarism are pounded into students’ heads as soon as they start writing. Most students hearken to the requests of their teachers to be honest and cite their sources in a bibliography. By high school, most have learned how to write a paper using their own thoughts and words. Unfortunately, as technology advances, plagiarism becomes easier. Today’s teachers are dealing with a high-tech version of yesterday’s plagiarism problem. Luckily, the resources that make plagiarism simple also make catching the copiers easier than ever.
Before the internet became popular, teachers had to worry about students copying sections out of encyclopedias and books. It required a lot of photocopying and retyping, which acted as a barrier to plagiarism. This form of academic dishonesty was also fairly easy to catch since the vocabulary of most children is fairly inferior to that of a book or encyclopedia. Today’s teachers are dealing with a new problem – the term paper websites.
Google the term "download term paper" and you might fall off your chair when you see how many websites pop up in the search results. Some will sell you a single, pre-written term paper for prices as low as $9.95. There are also services that will write you a custom paper at a very high cost. Others, such as www.MonsterPapers.com, will allow you to subscribe to a database of over 1 million term papers.
An outrage! Immoral! Unbelievable! The cries of teachers all over the world are pretty similar. They see these term paper websites as promotion of plagiarism. Teachers have begun to subscribe to services such as Turnitin.com to try and catch the plagiarizers. An economics professor at McGill University in Canada even required all students to obtain an “originality report” from this service. When a student refused, saying he felt like he was “guilty until proven innocent,” the case ended up in front of a judge where the student’s rights prevailed. Even if students cannot be required to submit their papers to services such as Turnitin.com, the fact that they exist and teachers have access to them should clearly indicate that turning in term papers from internet websites isn’t a good idea.
The term paper websites may have contributed to a growing problem of academic dishonesty, but as with many ethics questions, there are benefits to such services. It may be that students and teachers have not been properly trained on how they can use these sites to their educational benefit. As long as there are students, the term paper websites will not go away. For the sake of the students, it is imperative that teachers instruct students on how they case use these resources honestly.
An important benefit of term paper websites is the ability for students to read research prepared by other students. Learning by example is an excellent way to improve your own abilities. Students rarely have the opportunity to read examples of term papers written by other students. Many struggle with writing papers, not because they can’t do it, but because they don’t have experience with such writing. Reading examples of term papers can benefit some students enormously.
Technically, a term paper database isn’t very different than an encyclopedia. It has snippets of information on hundreds of thousands of different topics. The difference is the format of the information. Some papers are persuasive. Others are informative. One benefit that these databases have over encyclopedias is that they usually will include a bibliography that directs the student to more information on the topic. Students who are looking for research on difficult topics can use these sources to prepare their own papers.
One of the greatest benefits to a term paper database is the ability to combat and defeat writer’s block. Coming up with a great idea can be one of the most frustrating steps in the writing process for some students. For years teachers have encourage students to read to find ideas. A term paper database is another service that students can use to formulate opinions, read different points of view, generate ideas, and develop their own term paper.
Approaching these term paper databases from the stance of them being a learning tool, instead of a learning block, will greatly enhance a student’s education. Students know they are out there and many will use them. Educating students on how these services can be used responsibly and honestly is a step that all teachers should take to promote academic honesty.
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