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Should Freelance Writers Accept Jobs Writing Term Papers?

A guest article by writer and editor Sharlene Thomas

Students seem to be turning, more and more, to online job sites, looking for writers to have their term papers finished. And, of course, they promise to supply the entire outline and research documentation necessary to finish the project. I do not accept these assignments. 

Other writers may feel differently and I have no quarrel with that choice.  Personally, I feel this is one job that should not be undertaken, primarily, because I truly believe this is the most important job a student has to do, to show that they have a full understanding of the subject matter.

Any number of reasons can be found for needing someone else to do the paper, but number one appears to be that they are just too busy with all their other classes to get it done.

Term Papers Are Part of the Job

Going to college is as much a "job" as working in any business. Students fortunate enough to have somebody else paying their way are obviously in a better position to complete a term paper than students holding down an outside job in order to pay tuition fees. For those full time students, even the thought of asking someone else to write any part of your term paper is inexcusable, in my opinion. If youíve reached the end of the term without realizing one was required, then youíre in the wrong place.

Time management will be the biggest problem for those students wearing the hats of both student and employee. It can be overwhelming to have all professors looking for term papers at the same time but itís not as though this is a new idea. Regardless of the pressure, a term paper is part and parcel of the job. Planning should start in the beginning quarter of the class.

Yes, I said job.  It is the final step in completing subjects within a two- or four-year college program. The term paper is a means of showing the professor and the world (if the paper is published) that the student has an understanding of how to attain knowledge, sift through diverse research to supplement that understanding, and represents the ultimate proof that the student is then capable of presenting their own interpretation of that body of knowledge.

It doesn't really matter how large a class membership is, each student is going to have their own way of receiving and interpreting classroom instruction and research materials. This view has followed the student throughout their academic career and is as much a footprint of their work as anything else. Their personal lives will invariably color their presentations.

Term Papers Should Demonstrate Skills

Upon graduation, it is expected that the student has the skills, acumen, and self-discipline that the old sheepskin represents so that every job can start at a higher salary than those who have not attended college. Depending on the venue, employers arenít necessarily looking for expertise in the studentís major so much as they are interested in whether or not course requirements were fulfilled through to graduation. If term papers are outsourced, the student is cheating the potential employer. This is an integrity issue, in my opinion. 

I would like to think that integrity is still an important part of our intellectual and personal honesty. Unseen, we alone know when we have cheated and taken advantage of someone else or "the system."   While not an immediate focus during hectic college years, we set the precedent that becomes an inherent part of our lives that will ultimately erode feelings of self-worth.  With low self-esteem, we canít give our best work and that is not just cheating the system, it's cheating ourselves. 

Legality of Term Paper Mills

But, more importantly, having oneís term paper done without crediting the writer is illegal at most universities and will result in instant expulsion, if discovered!  Some professors may allow a student to have a professional writer do the term paper Ė but, thatís something that really needs to be clarified and, as far as Iím concerned, substantiated with a notarized affidavit from the student stating that the professor accepts co-authored papers.  I canít imagine any professor accepting a ghost- written paper.

If I can save one student from this path by refusing to do term papers, I have achieved my goal.

Sharlene Thomas, MCRP, is a freelance commercial writer. Her skills include writing, editing, copywriting, blogs, proofreading, and manuals. Her website, The Penmanship is at www.thepenmanship.com/



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