Writing 101: Academic Integrity

Writing 101: Academic Integrity

This Writing 101 article has a different tone than previous editions because I have made an alarming discovery. Essay Writing Services have been growing in prominence and aggression, as of late. Apparently, people associated with these sites are trying to get onto academic and writing focused websites, to promote their websites. Now, for this article, I will not be naming any of these websites, because I will not promote a website or service that violates academic integrity.

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That is the problem with these types of services. No matter how you argue the pressure that students face, which is considerable, in an academic environment, students turning in work that they did not write are plagiarizing, even if that work was commissioned for their use. I am not going to beat around the bush, or save this as a revelation for the conclusion. If you did not write it, the work is not yours; if you put your name on it and turn it in, you are cheating.

Despite claims that the situation is more complicated than that, the issue really is cut and dry. Turn in your own work. I am working through grad school, and I can say without reservation that university work can be really difficult, as professors dump loads of work on their students, seemingly ignorant of the students’ three or four other classes that are doing the same thing. It is a lot of work, and it is difficult, and that is the point.

The most important skills a student should learn while working toward their degree, is time management, priority organization, and limitation recognition. You have little time to do a lot of things, and you need to learn to distinguish what you can do on your own from what you need help with. By help, I do not mean “get someone to do it for you.”

Those Who Look Will Find Help

Colleges and Universities around the United States (I can’t speak for the rest of the world) offer helpful services to help with the course load of every student. There are tutoring centers, to help students get a better grasp on the ideas that they struggle with, and writing centers, to lend a second pair of trained eyes to a student’s written work to help construct better papers.

I have worked in a Writing Center for almost three years, and have worked with dozens of students during all phases of the writing process. If you need help writing a paper, do not contact a service that will write the paper for you. Find out if your university has a writing center, and if not, demand one. The writing center’s job is to help students work through their own papers to make a more refined and better constructed written work. Over my years in the writing center, I have had the opportunity to watch students grow as writers, as they take what they have learned from their sessions and apply them to their future work.

Writing is Important

You do not learn anything from having someone do your work for you, and you definitely do not grow as a person. Believe it or not, writing will be a vital aspect of your life after college. Many 9-5 “respectable” jobs require inter-department communication via memos, the presentation of ideas, and written proposals. Perhaps you want to do something more fun, like review games or movies for a prestigious website or magazine. If your cover letter, article proposal, of writing sample is not well written or organized, you will not get the time of day. Writing is about communication, and essay writing teaches students to put down their thoughts and form them into a coherently communicated idea. Students that commission their essays to be written for them do not learn this important skill.

Sorry about the gravity of this edition of Writing 101, but I feel that this issue is one that needs to be addressed. I also apologize that this article did not deal with the craft of writing, the next one will, I promise. If you have any concerns or topic suggestions for future Writing 101 articles, please share them in the comments. I have my own list of topics, but I would like to know what you folks want to know more about, regarding academic writing. If you would like to learn more about creative writing or general grammar, check out Read Ink, by Pop Culture Primer co-creator Amy Strickland.