Section B

Web Site Resources:

The Best Aid for Cheating?

SAN FRANCISCO (CNN) — For generations of students, writing term papers has been a major source of nerves and frustration, if not the ultimate homework nightmare. But for those with Internet access, illicit resources are just a few links away.

The contemporary student who wants to fake a term paper does not have to search far. All one has to do is to go to the appropriate Web site, where online papers can either be purchased, ordered, or downloaded for free.

Collegiate Care Research Assistance, for instance, may do the job. Do you want to "write" a paper on "Hamlet’s irreconcilable moral dilemmas"? Simply hand over $29.75, and the essay is yours.

For those who find this too great an expense, there is an alternative. Collegiate Care, with its "highest quality papers at the lowest possible prices", offers on-file papers for $5.95 per page. So, a few pages may just do the trick for the cost-conscious students.

Genius Papers, another student assistance site, offers "high-quality" and "low-priced" term papers. "You will be happy and successful," the web site promises potential consumers.

If you are too lazy or simply too busy writing your own term paper, Genius Papers is readily available. For a one-time fee of $9.95, you get access to pre-written papers for an entire semester.

Some sites, such as Term Paper Emporium and Absolutely Free: Online Essays offer course papers for free. Simply press the button and download — if you find the paper you want, that is.

Students are, of course, fully aware of these web site resources, and some people worry that the Internet, once hailed as the ultimate learning tool, could become the best aid yet for cheating.

For teachers, the problem is figuring out whether a student’s author-ship is authentic. But, as teaching assistant Jane Morrison explained, the task may not be too difficult for the perceiving teacher.

"Students who have gotten it off the Internet don’t look at me, twitch a little bit and look at their feet. And students who wrote every bit of it can talk about the paper very intelligently and look me in the eye," Morrison said.

Faking term papers is nothing new, and stolen intellectual property has been marketed for years. But the appearance of the Internet raises the issue: Is this new technology making cheating more widespread?

A senior official at Berkeley doubts it. "Students who are inclined to cheat are going to cheat regardless of the technology. I think it’s sort of a cynical notion to think that this new tool is going to spread the incidence of cheating," Gary Handman said.

This view was backed by Berkeley graduate student Arianne Chernock, who says that, after all, students have to decide what’s best for themselves. "It’s a question of honesty. We’re here to learn, so we’ve got to make the most of it ourselves."

And inventive teachers can make their assignments almost cheat-proof.

"If you structure the assignment in a creative way, and if students, for instance, have to transform the information into a hand-out, or do a drama, or write an account in first person narrative, then you may curb illicit work," said library media teacher Leslie Farmer.

That kind of strategy, some experts say, will basically force students to do more than simply download their education.