One of the pedagogical blessings of cyberspace is a service called turnitin.com, which exposes students who copy passages verbatim from internet sites. With the proliferation of websites of mundane term-paper-quality papers for sale, the detective work that now surrounds grading term papers turns even the meekest of professors into forensic hounds. You might expect a temptation for a struggling student to cheat in history or psychology, but surely not on the topic of religion. Imagine assigning a paper on “A Biblical View on Plagiarism” and finding out that it is not a blessing to give the material received a passing grade because the students had less than divine inspiration. What might a pragmatic student be thinking by starting off such a paper with “In the beginning God created…”

Given the impact of secularism in our land of liberty, I am not surprised that a student would be tempted by the devil (I mean professor) to cheat on a paper involving the history of Judaism and Christianity. After all education has become survivial of the fibbist these days. Those of us who teach about Islam encounter such a world of ignorance out there that when a student is naive enough to copy directly from a well-toned scholarly book, it is rather easy to spot. But what do you do when poorly (or properly) written papers are readily for sale on under-the-radar-of-turnitin wholesale term paper sites? While Googling the other day, I stumbled onto one such site with an url that says it all (http://search.1millionpapers.com/cgi-bin/query?mss=1millionpapers&q=The+Koran

Among the papers available on this million-paper-trail are “Science and the Koran,” “El Cid, Koran, Yvain, Joinville,” “‘Justice’ As Seen In The Koran, The Old Testament, & Plato’s ‘Republic,” “The Koran [Qu’ran] / An Overview,” “The True Nature of Islamic Jihad” and on and on for some 20o paper options. I have yet to see one on “The Koran and Saddam Hussein,” but I am sure one will be posted any day now.

But my favorite is the following:

Ethical Values Of Islam
5 pages in length. The Koran was instrumental in establishing the ethical values of Islam in relation to all of society’s existence: belief, women, gods, …
> [ Click here for a FREE description of this paper! ]
> [ Click here to purchase & receive this paper TODAY! ]

If you do click for the free description, here is what you get:

Ethical Values Of Islam
[ Click here to purchase this paper ]
5 pages in length. The Koran was instrumental in establishing the ethical values of Islam in relation to all of society’s existence: belief, women, gods, authority and all other pertinent entities. The writer discusses the fact that without the Koran’s influence, Islam’s ethical values would not have otherwise supported such a path of righteousness. Bibliography lists 6 sources.
Filename: TLCkran.wps

Now this service is not cheap, proving that for poor students there can be crime prevention. Any paper can be had for a mere $9.95 a page with the bibliographies thrown in free (I suppose otherwise nobody would take those pages). Just in case you do not find the exact fit you were looking for, the webplagiarists at this site will customize a paper for you. Here is what they offer:

How did we acquire so many research papers? We wrote them! What does that mean to you? We can write a NEW one ANY DAY on ANYTHING! If you’ve searched our database and couldn’t find anything useful enough to help YOU with YOUR topic, then THIS is THE section of our site YOU need! By ordering customized research, our customers get to tell us specifically what to find information about, precisely what they’re struggling to understand, and exactly when they’d like to receive our help! In turn, a team of talented research contractors goes to work FOR THEM — compiling information, sources, and tutorial analysis into one single source: a report by The Paper Store that you can cite as a source in your own!

I do appreciate the honesty. I wonder if their researchers include students who already bought papers from the site? I also think I have missed my calling. Instead of grading papers and spilling red ink, I should be writing papers for these guys and balancing my checkbook. It would, of course, be unethical to write papers that my own students might purchase, so there would have to be some kind of academic incest taboo in place. Then again, maybe I can persuade my colleagues to work together and open up our own website of term papers for sale (for legitimate use of course). In the long run this could change the face of American higher education, turning it into the grand political arena of hired-paper writing. Why bother to teach writing to students anyway, since we professors are better at it? Besides the money coming directly to me, think of the time I will save my not having to grade papers. If I proofread them the first time, there would be no need. And they would all be A-level. And there would be no more student complaints about grades. And if the dog ate their paper, it would be my dog.

Then there is the fine print (and it is very fine indeed on a normal screen):

*Our research papers are created to be used as models to assist you in the preparation of your own term paper. Neither 1MillionPapers.Com nor any website owned by The Paper Store Enterprises Inc., will EVER sell a research paper to ANY student giving us ANY reason to believe that (s)he will submit our work , either in whole or part, for academic credit at any institution in their own name. !!!Plagiarism is a CRIME! IF YOU QUOTE FROM OUR WORK, YOU MUST CITE OUR PAPER AS ONE OF YOUR SOURCES. The Paper Store does not engage nor participate in any transactions for the purpose of assisting students in committing academic fraud. This service is NOT available to anyone who does not have a valid, ethical reason for seeking our tutorial assistance. The organization’s rights to research, write, and globally-publish exemplary papers on the Internet are protected, Free Speech and shall continue unabated and uncensored….

Well I am glad that this is an ethical website. For a brief moment I thought it was encouraging cheating. But Gosh (which is a polite way of using God’s name in vain), can you image getting a paper that cites another student’s 5-page paper (and the chances are that the other paper was also plagiarized…)? How exactly do you cite a student paper offered for sale on the internet? If this is in the Chicago Manual of Style, it must be from the Al Capone memorial edition.

Daniel Martin Varisco