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.
Paying to fund plagiarism
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.