Very often, fraternity houses maintained extensive files of hundreds of academic papers already submitted for course credit.
Those papers enabled students to rewrite papers that had already received high grades and change them just enough to present the same material as new; in larger universities, students sometimes submitted recycled papers to different professors without even bothering to rewrite much more than the title page with their student information and the date of submission.
Nowadays, more and more instructors require students to submit papers electronically, specifically so that they can maintain a database of papers previously submitted in their courses. Those databases can also be combined into the institution's computer system as miniature, institution-specific versions of Turninin.com.
The use of professional academic ghostwriters is probably the safest form of student plagiarism, because detection is not a significant risk unless the instructor detects a different comprehension level between a student's in-class verbal contribution to class and that exhibited in written assignments. Particularly in larger academic institutions of higher learning where instructors do not regularly interact with students individually or necessarily even learn their identities. Likewise, tenured professors at many large universities provide lectures but rely extensively on teaching assistants (TA) to grade papers.
Professional ghostwriting has existed long before the Internet, but, much like everything else, online capabilities have greatly increased the availability and otherwise facilitated the use of professional ghostwriting services by students for the purposes of plagiarism. Typically, students do an online search using search terms like "essays" or "academic + essays" which reveals thousands of Internet ventures dedicated to helping students present unoriginal academic work as their own. Many of these sites merely collect large databases of prior essays on every conceivable academic topic in every possible academic subject matter area and resell them.
In principle, this is just a much larger version of the traditional fraternity essay library, but some Internet companies also provide custom essay-writing services for which students pay a premium. They advertise their ability to provide any academic assignment required for as much as $50 or more per page. Partly for this reason, Universities and other institutions of higher learning have begun to rely much more heavily on anti-plagiarizing scanning software to detect academic writing recycled in this manner. To combat the use of professional custom writing, many instructors now require students to submit outlines, literature reviews, full-sentence outlines, and one or more rough drafts of written assignments to help deter and complicate the use of professional ghostwriting in academia.
Academic dishonesty, much like myriad other forms of dishonesty in society will likely never be eliminated entirely, for many of the same reasons that general dishonesty (i.e. outside the academic realm) will not be eliminated entirely. Cheating and dishonesty are likely fundamental elements of human nature, which is exactly why societies require laws, police forces, civil courts, and penal institutions.
Academic dishonesty is, therefore, also likely to persist indefinitely, including literary plagiarism in academia. As long as instructors continue to assign written work, especially that expected to be completed outside of class, laziness and the desire to increase grades by any means possible will continue to motivate academic plagiarism.
Wide-scale academic dishonesty in general and plagiarism in particular devalues the worth of academic degrees and represents unfair competition with respect to students who submit only the product of their own academic work. Ultimately, it also undermines the value of any education or academic degrees received by the students who perpetrate it.
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