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Group of educators demanding the end to “academic fraud” ads on education sites

A group of educators is hoping to see an end to advertisers who are in the business of selling term papers and essays by launching an online petition.

Please help us encourage Google to stop undermining education through their policy of displaying ads that encourage plagiarism and academic fraud through the sale of pre-written and made to order term papers and essays especially when these ads are displayed on web sites that promote education.

The Google AdWords program works by matching approved ads to content using algorithms and Google permits hosting web sites to block ads only by excluding certain domain names; businesses that sell term papers and essays (e.g. DirectEssays.com and MonsterPapers.com) simply use a large number of domain names to get around this minor restriction which allows them to promote academic fraud even on web sites that promote education.

They are also suggesting that people submit their feedback about why these ads should not be allowed in Adwords.

What do I think? Well, first of all, these types of advertisers don’t sell plaigarized work, they have reprint rights from the authors of the papers. And using DirectEssays.com, one of the sites named in the petition, their terms state:

You acknowledge and agree that the license granted under these Terms does not permit you to utilize any Essay for any commercial or for-profit purpose. The papers contained within our web site are for research purposes only! You may not turn in our papers as your own work! You must cite our website as your source! Turning in a paper from our web site as your own is plagiarism and is illegal!

So while students may hand in unedited papers as their own, these advertisers aren’t promoting “academic dishonesty” by telling students to purchasing these papers for anything other than research purposes only.

And will this stop plagairism? Definitely not. Students don’t decide to buy a term paper and call it their own simply because they saw an ad for a site selling papers. Cheaters are going to cheat regardless of whether they see the ad on an AdSense site, in the natural search results, or as a recommendation from a friend who also bought a paper. The only thing an Adwords or AdSense ad will change is possibly what company he or she buys the term paper from.

On the flip side, there are also many Adwords advertisers who offer services to spot plagairized work, such as turnitin.com.

I would also be willing to bet that many publishers of educational sites are making good money from displaying these kinds of ads. It would be interesting to know the number of non-AdSense-publishers versus AdSense publishers of educational sites who are signing the petition. Many publishers displaying these ads may have a completely different opinion on this.

I am also curious why Jack Paulus, the one who started the petition, would have put a tinyurl link that redirects to the Adwords feedback page, rather than linking directly.

When viewing the petition page, I do find it amusing to see a site selling essays as one of the AdSense ads (click to view full-sized).

essayads.gif

Spotted via Threadwatch

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3 comments to Group of educators demanding the end to “academic fraud” ads on education sites

  • There was a recent BBC Radio programme about this, I’ll try to track down a link where people will be able to hear it, but for the meantime here’s a link to my page about it: http://www.radiolistings.co.uk/programmes/brains_for_sale.html

  • Jeremy Leader

    The petition is now showing 2 ads that explicitly offer “Custom Term Papers” (ProfEssays.com) and “We write term & research papers” (007TermPapers.com). They may have a fine print disclaimer on their site that you’re not supposed to turn these “term papers” in as term papers, but the text of the ads sure seems to be soliciting wannabe plagiarists.

    Oh, and I’m curious what Google thinks of a toll-free phone number in ad text (007TermPapers.com)? Isn’t that an attempt to get customers without having to pay for clicks?

  • We developed MonsterPapers.com as a resource for students and do not tolerate plagarism. Do students turn in essays from our site? Probably, but this was not the intention when we created the website.

    Subscribing to our database to access information is no different than accessing an encyclopedia. I know people who use this site for the purpose of looking for ideas for their own papers or book reports and geting sources to look up for further research.

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