I’ve received several approaches since I started freelancing some three years ago to do something I had already decided I would never do. I’m sure that businesses providing such services will and do pay handsomely for it but I have a major ethical problem with putting my academic and creative writing talents to such projects.
To research and write essays for students is, for me, the most unethical aspect of being a freelance writer and I refuse to do it and will continue to do so. I could probably make a lot of money doing this, especially in areas of history and archaeology, and to a lesser extent environmental science (my degrees covered elements of this, but a 15+ year interest in the subject puts me in good stead).
I worked hard for my academic achievements, earning a 2.1 at Bachelor’s level with a 1st class dissertation (probably my proudest life achievement to date) and a Master’s Degree from the same Russell Group university and it irks me no end that there are people out there at top universities who who are either not willing to put in the effort or do not have the capability to be there in the first place.
I know there is a lot of pressure on young people to get ahead in what is now a very competitive employment marketplace, but there is never any excuse for cheating. If you’re paying somebody to write an essay for you, in my mind that is cheating.
I can understand that it may be tempting for the new or even the established freelance writer, especially those with a high level of academic achievements, to put their skills to use and earn some quick cash but I am not prepared to walk down that road. It is not my place to help lazy or incapable students to get a leg up in life by using my skills and experiences, especially when that means surrendering all right to lay claim to that work while they pass it off as their own. I have personal issue with writing an essay for a student who spends more time in the bar than the library. If they are struggling with work, then cheating on your degree is not the way to go.
My university lifestyle as a Master’s student was late nights in the library, some times five or six nights a week, getting up for a full day’s work the following morning, reading academic texts in my lunch break and then heading home to dive back into the books. When I had work I barely had free time and when I didn’t have work I spent what little free time I had looking for more temping work. It wasn’t fun but it was rewarding. It is my firm belief if you go to university you should experience this lifestyle so that when you graduate you do so with a clear conscience and feeling you have truly earnt your qualifications. Success smells even sweeter when you know you ‘ve earnt it.
There is more information on the industry here. The article was written in 2007 but still has important information about the extent of this industry.
Finally, Science Direct has a link here to the first academic study into this phenomenon.