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Essays for sale – using paper mill sites

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By Margaret Adolphus

Essays – curse or blessing?

Writing essays is one of the lesser celebrated benefits of an academic course. Most students view them as a chore which interrupts the more serious business of life such as earning money or socializing, and yet essays help students develop a whole range of skills. They can:

  • Improve your written communication. Getting good at writing essays means you have a greater ability to express your thoughts clearly and succinctly, without using unnecessary words.
  • Enhance your research and information-gathering skills. You will learn where to look and how to evaluate what you find.
  • Develop your analytical ability. This kind of writing makes you synthesize information, build an argument and generally encourage your thinking and problem solving.
  • Put a premium on meticulousness. Good academic writing demands correct citation of sources.
  • Make you more skilful at planning, managing time and juggling priorities. Writing an essay is seldom the only major thing you will have on your plate, and will need somehow to be integrated with the rest of your life.
  • Hone your editing and proofreading skills. It can be difficult to proofread your own work, but a useful skill to acquire – especially when you come to write important reports for the board.
  • Last, but not least, speed up your typing. Keyboard skills are essential in the digital age.

In spite of all this, a whole new industry has grown up around providing students with "off-the-peg" and customized solutions to the essay problem. Known as "essays for sale" or "paper mills", these online essay services are widely used by students, while being condemned as plagiarism by academics.