"Term Paper II" Fun with plagiarism again

I did not see the “part one” in this series, but the NYT article “Term Paper Project, Part II” might be an interesting one to share with folks in English 516 this coming winter. One of the more interesting parts of the article for me was the talk with Kevin Smith, the webmaster of a site called “Asian Grade” that distributes term papers for free.

Needless to say, I don’t adhere to the not so subtle racism of a site predicated on the idea that it’s best to cheat off of Asian students– despite, as the NYTimes dutifully notes, that Mr. Smith “is half-Asian.” And there are some other features of the site that are problematic– like, for a fee, they will remove a paper that you copy from it so that your professor can’t find it as easily. (Note to professors: see The Wayback Machine). But I do think he has a point when he (and his site) say:

The site argues that a lot of term-paper assignments are mindless make-work, and that many teachers don’t even bother to grade them carefully.

“In fact, the biggest academic con is not plagiarism by students,â€� the site says, “it’s the fact that teachers pretend to read 25-30 papers on the same subject, semester after semester, year after year … come on, did you honestly think your teachers enjoy your opinion of Robert Frost’s poems.â€�

In other words, make an assignment that’s easy to plagiarize and you can be assured that someone will do just that.

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