Students are being paid for uploading undergraduate and post-graduate academic work into the website GradeGuru.com [ED: appears to be down – try the google cached version] where they can then be downloaded for free. The website claims to have the support of 281 UK Institutions, with uploading being most prevalent at Durham, Manchester and Nottingham. As for Sussex, 12 out of the 19 uploaded files are relevant to Anthropology related subjects.

Although the note sharing website describes itself as “a platform for students to help each other with coursework” and solely to be used as a source of “ideas, tips and inspiration”, there can be found in it full essays on Shakespeare and other topics. At Sussex, both plagiarism (partial, complete or inadvertent) and collusion are considered Academic Misconduct and can even lead to an “overall failure of the course”.

Second-year student Rebecca thinks that “it’s unethical to upload whole essays online, because it makes it really difficult to combat plagiarism and it’s really unfair to other candidates.” She wonders how the website can ensure the site is not being used to plagiarise and only serves as a basis for developing ideas. What is being questioned is not only the issue of infringing the law but also maintaining the quality of work uploaded.

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The Badger

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  • My name is Emily and I am the founder of GradeGuru. The GradeGuru team and I would like to please make a clarification. GradeGuru has a partnership with TurnItIn for plagiarism prevention – the number one plagiarism prevention service in the UK. It is the same tool academic institutions themselves use to combat this issue. We submit all of our content to TurnItIn. That means that if any student were to try to copy another student’s work from our site at a university that uses TurnItIn (and that includes most UK universities), they would be found out. That is one way in which we are policing the site. We have just recently received clearance from TurnItIn to have their “Protected by TurnItIn” logo on our homepage, (this will be up soon), which will also serve as a strong deterrent for the few unethical students who might consider using others’ work improperly. Of course our terms and conditions also explicitly prohibit any unethical use of GradeGuru materials.

  • Provided plagiarism can be adequately prevented using the TurnItIn service, I think this is an excellent service. Students should be encouraged to share their work outside of the university – goodness knows, they spend enough time working on coursework, only for it to be forgotten about.