In the article, "Buying In, Selling Short: A Pedagogy Against the Rhetoric of Online Paper Mills," Kelly Ritter deals with the idea that "plagiarism is...reliant on students' perceptions of authorship" (25). She has devloped a pedagogy that focuses mainly on paper mills and what their idea of authorship is. Why does "wholesale plagiarism" occur? Ritter does not believe that services such as turnitin.com are going to solve the problem of plagiarism, but it seems that instructors do feel that they must fix the problem of plagiarism.

Students must feel as if they are "partners in the learning process" (27). Freshman Composition is often a site of "subject free" instruction, which creates a situation that makes paper mills seem more accessible and useful. Students have to learn to speak the academic language, and in doing so, must find their voices amongst others, must learn by mimicry in some cases, and the it is the instructors responsibility to facillitate this learning.

Throughout her article, Ritter argues that "if we see concepts such as authorship and 'sponsorship' not ony in the context of the diversity of the first year writing curriculum and issues of student agency but also in light of a highly commercialized, economically driven American culture, we might also begin to see such sponsorship perverted in unexpected sites, namely, the paper mills" (33). Paper mills are appealing to loyalties that students do not feel in the classroom, and are providing a sense of safety in vicarious authorship.

Ritter's assignment actually asks that the students use writing skills such as synthesis, analysis, and source citation to study paper mills and their practices. Using the sites as part of the commerical culture that students grow up in, she asks the class to define terms such as "plagiarism" and "academic dishonsety." What types of rhetoric do these paper mills use to attract customers, namely students? Ritter is interested in what students think about these electronic resources-asks them to critically think about strategies that the paper mills use to lure clients.

Using sites such as schoolsucks.com, research-assistance.com, and the like, Ritter first asked students what their perceptions on such sites were. Is it a moral issue? How do they see authorship and possibly sponsorship? Is it merely a way to strike at the heart of a consumer student?

Ritter acknowledges that many students do not understand why they are attending college. Many see it it as a "societal mandate" which she believes "this enrolled-against-my-will attitude is, of course, a primary contributor to perceptions of authorship and academic integrity" (39). Ritter believs that by addressing the topic of authorship, and to let students be the investigators in the real meaning of these words.

Ritter's Assignment

  • Ritter, Kelly. "Buying In, Selling Short: A Pedagogy Against the Rhetoric of Online Paper Mills." Pedagogy: Critical Approaches to Teaching Literature, Language, Composition and Culture. 6:1 (2006). ERIC. 12 March 2007.