Sunday, June 12, 2011

Freelance Writing Center: Unethical and Suspect

This week, in the search to dig up better work, I came across a firm called Freelance Writing Center. I applied, took a grammar test, and then received a request to write a research paper as an audition. Something about this reeked of odd, unethical. I did some research and found another writer who had the same experience. I discussed this with my husband who was charmed that I could be so na├»ve as to not know this was an academic paper farm—the kind of firm that sells papers to students who will turn in work to their professors and therefore falsely claim original creation of the paper.  He said I could surely do this and make a comfortable living, but putting the firm on my resume would be the death of me should I later apply to a university or respectable publisher.

Here is the first letter to me from an anonymous administrator at FWC. I received it after pointing out typographical errors on the test I was required to take. Note the disorganization of thought in the paragraph below. There are also spacing errors and punctuation omitted.  The biggest flaw, however, is in the main question I was to answer. What kind of professional writer states this so poorly? Immigration is not a society, but a process. But read, on…

Thank you for your feedback.
Prior to uploading your own samples we ask that you please take our test essay. To avoid upload problems please save it as Immigration. The next step in the application process is to provide a test essay due no later than June 27th 2011. Instructions are: Explain why you think immigration is one aspect of society that you think will experience the greatest amount of social change over the next ten years and explain why you think this is the case. You may NOT use Wikipedia, any encyclopedia or any dictionary as a source for this paper. You must research this topic and express your view on how this social institution/ phenomenon will change over the next ten years. Make sure you answer the following questions and include the following information What is changing? How much, how fast, and in what direction? What are the engines driving change? What data is there to demonstrate that this change is likely to continue and is occurring? Why do you believe this topic will experience more social change than other areas/topics in the next ten years? Which theory of social change (functionalist, conflict or symbolic interaction) best explains this change and why? Please make sure it is 2 pages, double spaced in Times New Roman Font, with 3 sources in APA format. Thankyou"

I initially responded to this seeking clarification of the main question. Does the administrator really desire a discussion about the effects of immigration on society or how the process of immigration would change? Then, after writing my lovely husband, who smacked me over the head with what this firm really is, I did some research and wrote the following letter to the administrator:

Dear Administrator,
I did a little research on your question. I found that the subset of main questions was plagiarized from an article here:  http://globetrotter.berkeley.edu/people2/Wilensky/wilensky-con5.html.
AND I found that another writer at this website found fault with your request as well. You can see his comments here: http://www.magi-creations.com/ on his post for April 11.
Perhaps I was so naive as to not realize that this job meant getting paid to anonymously write other people's schoolwork. Do you mean to imply that plagiarism does not include the willful relinquishment of one's work so someone else can make an A on it?
I cannot ethically write someone else's work for a university, but I can edit student work. I can write informational articles where my name is attached to the project publicly.
Like the writer at Magi, I agree that the sudden request for an essay mid-application is suspect. I also think that a more professional organization would not have typos in the test for the job and that the request for the essay would have been more properly organized and written. My even having to write you for clarification on the question itself should have been a red flag for me.
Unless you can make assurances of ethical intentions, I am not interested. And by the way, I don't need to write on this topic in your suggested format for you to know I am a skilled writer. Any research you had done on the links posted in my resume would have answered that question.

Of course, you can imagine that like the writer at Magi, I will be told I am not a good fit for this position. That’s fine, because it’s just prostitution of words, and who wants to be the quintessential representative of those who write so others can have a beer instead of doing their homework. I’ll let you know what FWC tells me, but I think you already know as well.

And to Mark over at http://www.magi-creations.com/, I again thank you for the notice on your site. Perhaps you and I will have better luck at finding good work for good people.

8 comments:

  1. Catiche;

    This is an example that we are living at a time when our ethics are usually being placed in conflict with our fiduciary responsibilities. I wonder if this is just another symptom of our inevitable slide.

    Civility and manners, followed by a gradual lapse in ethics, it seems every day we just slide a little further down that slippery slope. It is refreshing, however, to see that there are still some people who are uncomfortable with compromising their ethics. Good on you.

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  2. Thanks, David. I sure hope this all pays off one day. I just thought I can't do this and then expect my own kids to write their own papers. Last night, I explained to my little girl why I was not going to pursue the job further. I wanted her to learn the lesson through me.

    Great job on your blog, by the way. Loved your last post.

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  3. totally disagree with you. I have heard about the firms like this and would definitely use their service if I had extra money. As a studying and working mother I am extremely overwhelmed with my homework. I would hire a writer to help me with some (not all) of my assignments because I feel really exausted after the working day. Professors overload students with various tasks that require a lot of time and efforts to complete them. My schedule does not allow me to spend so much time on doing some unimportant papers.

    IMHO, I do not find anyhting unethical about such service. They just assist you with the research and help you better understand the topic. Thank you.

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  4. I was just hired by this company and have been suspicious about working for them since given access to their "Dashboard." I haven't taken any assignments yet, but I did do the 2pg essay. They told me it was necessary to prove that I can write in APA format and the question was very clear. The site says that papers submitted are to be used for research only and that the clients agree to not use them for academic submission, but when I looked at the details for different jobs I noticed that the majority of the clients were students in the US. The details list the student's year in college (or HS), course name, and clients provide information provided by professors.

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    1. as a freelance writer you were not "hired" by this company. they are not your boss and you, as a freelance writer, continue to determine which assignments and even how much you feel the assignment is worth. as to the issue that you raise. what you and the author of this blog have described is somewhat of a conundrum that both of you have, in your minds, complicated. as an freelance academic writer you are essentially providing research and sources in a cogent manner suitable for college-level work. there is no encouragement on the part of the writer that the student hand in the paper as is. if for not other reason, the student learns nothing by doing so. but if the student uses such papers to augment their studies then there is nothing ethically wrong with providing the service. the problems with academic writing services should actually be viewed from the writer's standpoint: they are low paying and no matter what each company states on their websites, they treat writers as if they are scum.

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  5. i respectfully disagree that it is unethical for freelance writers to provide assistance to students; because that is what it is. it isn't the writer who is committing any sort of unethical behavior, i rather think if anything unethical is going on it is on the part of the student.

    a more pressing issue concerns companies such as freelance writing center, who pay their writers very little. in fact it tends to amount to less than minimum wage. if you have designs on becoming a commercial writer then academic writing should not even be a consideration. but if you see it as a viable option when augmenting income without stepping out the house then by all means go for it. just be very careful about the company, most are bad, very bad.

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  6. I worked for this company in 2010 for about 4 months for extra money, the pay was fine for whatI needed. Prices range from $6.00 - 750.00 (thesis) and they pay on time. I averaged about $300 a month. What I did not like about them was the clients rate you openly for all to see. They can call you names, state how poor of a writer you are etc., and HR does nothing about the comments. And the clients can give you a poor rating simply because they received a B or lower and not the "A" they were anticipating. Here is the other catch the client can request their money back at anytime, well into a month or two later simply because they did not receive an "A" which will place your company account in the negative. Therefore, the next assignments you take will be minus the amount you owe back to the company.

    In their defense they pay on time, on they are reasonably priced. If you treat it like a 9-5 you can easily make 1,000 a month. If you don't mind doing others homework and can deal with the company's less than ethical and tactful procedures and need some extra cash...go for it. But don't stay long!

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  7. I'm ashamed to say that I'm a freelance academic writer working freelance and also for one company (thus far). I can make $5,000 a month if I really tried and dedicated myself full time to it (I also tutor, which makes less money but is more rewarding). Am I ashamed of myself? Not until I saw a bunch of articles on how unethical it is. I can now say that I AM ashamed of myself.

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