Using someone else's words is easier and a big time saver, but finding a good paper without spending a lot of money has always been difficult and dangerous. There may be students on your campus who will sell you a paper or who will write a paper for you for cash, but using these local, on-campus entrepreneurs can be very risky. Will your supplier turn you in? Will the teacher recognize your paper? Will someone else turn you in? The punishments for getting caught are very harsh, usually resulting in an "F" for the course or even expulsion from your university. Other suppliers advertise in magazines or on the Internet, but using them is not always safe. The quality of the paper you purchase may be substandard or you could be overcharged. You usually have no redress because the seller could always report you to your school if you complain.
There is another option for those of you with Internet access. There are free databases of papers just waiting for you to download. You can use someone's paper from across the country and not have to worry about the teacher recognizing the piece of writing. If you want to compose your own paper, the Internet also makes it easier to cut and paste information; you do not even have to retype the text. The joy of the Internet is that your spliced paper can come from all over the world and be virtually untraceable.
There are many different ways that you can access the Internet and the World Wide Web. If you do not have a computer with a modem at home, you can use one at school, work, or the local library. Computers that provide web access have even sprung up in local malls. You may have the option of a text based system or a graphic browser such as Netscape Navigator or Microsoft Internet Explorer.
Once you are connected to the Internet, you should use a search engine to locate information on your topic. The most important thing you can do to conduct a successful search is to compose exact searches. Spend time wording your search and use boolean arguments (i.e. and, or, not) to limit or expand your search. The best place to start is with Infoseek Ultra. If nothing relevant turns up use a metasearch site, such as all4one or MetaCrawler, which engage several search engines at the same time.
If you do not have a topic or if you came up blank on your topic search, you should next check out the Evil House of Cheat. It is a searchable database of over 1200 categorized essays. This site freely lets you download or view essays, reports, research, and fieldwork in all subjects and includes complete descriptions and grades. A password is required to access this vast database, but you can obtain one by adding a paper to their collection, making a link in your homepage to the site, reporting a typing mistake in the site, or letting them know about an incorrect link to their site. The password requirement encourages people to submit papers, thus ensuring that there will always be new papers on the site to download.
The Evil House of Cheat is not the only site that contains papers, but it may be the best organized. Below is a list of some other good sites. All of these sites have disclaimers that they are for research only.
Most papers that you download will be in plain text format so you will need to reformat them with a word processor. You also want to make sure that you remove any personal references that would alert the teacher that someone else may have wrote the paper. These papers are out there, waiting for your use, but to use them successfully you need to be careful. Avoid changing topics at the last minute and try to pick a paper that is suitable for the assignment. Do not pick a paper that received a high grade for a graduate student and use it for a freshman English course.
Teachers have been catching on and have been devising ways to make it more difficult to plagiarize complete papers. English teachers are the hardest to fool because they begin to recognize your writing style through in-class writing assignments and can tell when your writing dramatically shifts. Some teachers require you to hand in each stage of your writing assignment -- outline, drafts, and final paper -- to document your work. Others require photocopies of sources. Most teachers have access to the same resources that you do. They often read newsgroups and bulletin boards in their subject, area so be careful if you try to solicit a paper from one of these sources. Luckily, there are many teachers who neither utilize the Internet nor check sources so odds are good that you can successfully use a paper that someone else has written.
Other suggested Readings
Brown, Melodi. Some may plagiarize despite consequences. http://www.thenews.org/1208/cplag.htm (accessed 11/3/96)
(The Murray State News)
Grumman, Cornelia. Cheating on the Internet: Is it as Easy as it Sounds? http://www.chicago.tribune.com/tech/current/cheat.htm (accessed 11/3/96)
(TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER. Web-posted: Thursday, April 18, 1996)
Plagiarism: does it matter?
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