The Haunting Presence of Ghostwriting in Academia

Ghostwriting – the act of conducting work for someone else who can claim it as their own work – has become an attractive service to students around the globe. Students pay between $10 – $50 per page, depending on length, topic and time needed for the ghostwriter to complete the paper. A standard bachelor thesis could amount to approximately $2000. That money does not guarantee a good grade, but for most students, the avoidance of writing the paper themselves is worth more than the actual grade.


According to Times Higher Education, it is difficult to truly determine how many ghostwriting services operate and how many students use these services, since both, the ghostwriters as well as the students operate in the shade. While ghostwriting is not illegal, it is highly unethical and not accepted in academia. But why is it actually appealing to students to spend thousands of dollars on a ghostwriter, only to avoid some research and writing work?


Own Work? Too much Work!

Employing a ghostwriter is obviously an easy way out of having to conduct tedious research and paper writing. Compared to past decades, academia has become much more demanding in terms of workload and academic obligations, such as fulfilling general education requirements as well as major courses while balancing those classes with internships, student organizations and private lives. A well-written paper requires intense work for a couple of days – or even weeks. For some students, the assignment of a major paper increases their academic pressure tremendously and they decide to make use of a ghostwriter to decrease their workload.


Students succumb to pressure, being too lazy or ambitious

After submitting the request to a ghostwriter, all the student has to do is to sit back and relax – a dream come true for lazy people. But according to David A.Tomar, a former ghostwriter, who published a blog article about his experience on, also students who are too ambitious or don’t stand the pressure of their studies can be prone to the idea of hiring a ghostwriter. Those might be nervous about their writing skills and worried about earning a good grade. For instance, international students who don’t feel comfortable writing in the new language; high school students who just transferred to college and are intimidated by the higher level writing requests; or students who are pressured to write a good paper as last chance to pass a course.


“It’s OK in business, why not in academia?”

Most people are aware of the acceptance of ghostwriting in business. It has become economically accepted to employ ghostwriters for speech-writing, the creation of PR and marketing material, the production of online content and much more. Nowadays, speechwriters remain behind the scene; a lot of blogs are generically produced; and compositions on the web often don’t even state an author. But students who argue that ghostwriting is acceptable in the business world, disregard that those business people have earned a privilege of easing their workload to focus on their main job responsibilities. Executives, politicians or celebrities often have to handle other businesses, rather than to create content, which is why it has become acceptable if someone else jumps in to help them represent themselves. However, in academics, students have no excuse to make use of a ghostwriter – they have to establish and gain their prestige first and eventually, earn their privilege to have someone else work for them in the future.
PlagScan’s mission is to promote the creation of original content and we condemn ghostwriting in academia. Technically, it is hard to identify a ghostwritten text. Advances in stylometry software happen consequently, but a scalable technological solution has not been developed yet – which means we will remain to rely on the honor system, adequate education and human intuition.

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