Maaz
Oct 06 2018

University theses for sale in Turkey

Recently, it has become easier to buy a career without lifting a finger. Some people have found a way to reach their career goals without the mental strain, sore elbows, or necessary schoolwork—all that is needed is cash. If you have money, you can get your homework done, your projects completed, and your thesis written.

This service is brought to you by expert staff who will guarantee that you will not run into any problems like plagiarism. The people who write your thesis for you will tell you they are ethical because they will never tell anyone your name or that you paid to have a thesis written. This information is kept secret.

With university thesis experts complaining about plagiarism, we decided to investigate something that goes beyond plagiarism. We started with a Google search and found a huge number of sites offering these writing services. After confirming that some places will do homework and write theses for a fee, I called them up, posing as a master’s student from Marmara University in Istanbul.

I asked about how the papers are written, who takes advantage of these services, how many people request a thesis each year, and whether the professors writing the theses know the students’ names.

I learned they offer two types of thesis services: master’s theses and PhD dissertations. A master’s thesis is 80 to 100 pages long, and costs between 2,500 and 7,000 lira ($415 to $1,160). If the thesis includes a project, this costs more; for example, a survey or public opinion poll will run to around 1,000 lira ($165). A PhD dissertation, on the other hand, will cost somewhere between 7,000 and 15,000 lira ($1,160 to $2,500).

Before writing the thesis, they ask a few things from the student, the topic, some suggested sources, and half the money. Throughout the process, the student and the professor writing the paper are in communication, generally online. There is more communication between the writer and the student for dissertations.

If you are not happy with your custom-written thesis, you can tell the professor who wrote it, but you will not learn the professor’s name. They told me this is because of what they said were ethical considerations and that privacy is essential. The professor also does not know the student’s name.

When you receive your thesis, you pay the rest of the money, and your relationship with the service comes to an end. As for defending your thesis, they tell you, “there’s nothing we can do. The defence is the student’s responsibility.”

But what if your professors find out someone else wrote your thesis? “That’s never come up,” the company told me. “Secrecy is crucial. Don’t even tell your friends.”

I kept pushing them with questions. “I don’t want to write even one sentence. Will any of this work fall on me?” They told me it would not, that all they needed from me was the topic and a few sources. The thesis would be in my hand in a month or two.

And if the thesis is bad? “Sir, we have an expert staff of thesis writers. Our least-qualified writer is a PhD student. We have professors and associate professors from the best universities. You have nothing to worry about in terms of quality.” However, they also recommended that I read the thesis before submitting it, and perhaps write a few of my own sentences and make corrections to get a good idea of what the paper is about.

As for dissertations, they reminded me these can take years to complete, depending on the topic and the level of difficulty. In addition to writing the paper, these services will also do any accompanying PhD projects for you, including fieldwork. However, they would only write the paper in Turkish.

A professor can write around 10 theses each year, but for English, a paper is much more expensive and takes more time. The woman at one service told me that I could write the thesis in Turkish and send it to them for translation. Of course, translation also costs extra.

I finally asked about my biggest concern: getting caught for plagiarism. “Don’t worry!” they said. “Our staff is highly aware of plagiarism, and we use plagiarism-checkers to be certain. So far, we’ve never had a problem.”

These companies are quick to offer comforting words about plagiarism, but one look at the statistics tells us a different story. The Boğaziçi University Centre for Educational Policy Studies examined 600 post-graduate papers (470 master’s theses and 130 PhD dissertations) submitted between 2007 and 2016, and found that 34.5 percent of them were heavily plagiarised. The global average for plagiarism is 15 percent.

Every website gave a different number for how many theses they write each year. The lowest number was 70 to 80, and the highest was around 300. Around 60 percent of the students that use these services come from private universities, and the rest are from public universities.

People who write papers for others say they do it to make a living. One writer, who asked to be called Tezer, said he started this work when he was in university. He started by doing his friends’ homework and writing their papers for them. Eventually, one friend recommended he work for a company. In addition to writing 8 to 10 theses and dissertations each year, he says he also completes a lot of students’ homework.

Tezer is actually a teacher who could not get hired anywhere. “I’m thinking about my right to earn money. If I’d been hired, I wouldn’t be doing this work. It does my head in, wandering in libraries and doing academic research. I know this work isn’t fair, but what is fair in Istanbul?”

This kind of unfairness is rampant throughout the education system. Stationery shops near schools even have signs saying “Homework Done Here.” I went into one and asked if they would do my homework. “Sure!” they said.

One shopkeeper told me it was not just students paying to have their homework done. “The parents come too. They don’t have the time or the knowledge to do the work for their kids, but they have money, so they just pay us to do it.”

The opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Ahval.