Decades ago, an unethical student might take interest in a three-line classified ad in Rolling Stone magazine offering pre-written school papers for sale. We imagine this mail-order service offered a limited number of typed, recycled three-pagers on The Great Gatsby and the like.

Today, a student with a similar need can, with a few online clicks and keywords, order a bespoke essay about any subject, written for any desired school level. A plethora of eager ghostwriters awaits, and they’re ready to make a deal!

Scenes from the term paper marketplace

To get a better understanding of these modern paper mills, we shopped around for a little help creating a term paper. We wanted to truly test the system, so rather than ask for a mere 101-level four pages on, say, the Bill of Rights, we asked for 30 pages of graduate-level writing on English lit.

In an effort to learn just how particular we could be with our paper order, we chose a somewhat dry and obscure topic (or so we thought): the influence of German philosophers on English poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s Biographia Literaria from 1817.

This cerebral masterwork contains 23 chapters of pure intellectualism addressing topics ranging from the theory of poetry to the “esemplastic power” of imagination. The following line is typical of the work: “It is, moreover, to be considered that to the formation of healthy feelings, and a reflecting mind, negations involve impediments not less formidable than sophistication and vicious intermixture.” You can say that again!

S. T. Coleridge
A passage from the Biographia in Italian, English, and Greek


We expected to find a limited number of writers, ahem—research assistants—who could help us with such highbrow academic stuff. To our surprise, experts abound, prepared to write exactly what we need!

A quick Googling of “write my paper for me” yields dozens of results from companies offering such services, including, appropriately, The domain names cut to the chase and leave no doubt as to the intended transaction:,, and so forth.

What kind of terms are involved? It’s clear throughout the marketplace that three key criteria determine pricing: number of pages, deadline date, and school level. Level options typically range from High School to PhD. We were struck by the number of services unabashedly offering to write chapters of doctoral dissertations. (We also wondered if we had discovered a vicious cycle, where starving, unemployed PhD’s resort to ghostwriting work, only to assist in propelling the next wave of hapless doctoral students.)

But is it a good deal? We wanted to make sure we’d be getting a fair price for a quality product, so we randomly selected three vendors for further investigation. For reasons which will become obvious, we’re not naming these vendors or linking to their services.

Vendor #1: The direct offer

We navigated to the first company’s website and made use of its helpful real-time chat option. (We learned most of these sites have chat agents available, all of which are faster and more helpful than any chat you’ve experienced with your cable provider or any other mainstream company.)

Immediately, Jesy popped up to get right down to business:

We told Jesy what we’re looking for:

Jesy had good news:

Bingo! Must be our lucky day!

Like any good salesman, Jesy diligently defined the exact scope of our need:

We answered his questions, and soon he offered terms—with a discount!

This was happening fast, though, so we asked for a little more information and reassurance:

Well, that was easy. 30 pages on the Biographia for about $19 each. At this point, what reasonable, impoverished grad student wouldn’t perform a cost/benefit calculation, leaning strongly towards the idea of just paying Jesy in order to free up time and pick up some extra shifts at the restaurant? Jesy’s offer was tempting.

But was this the best we could do? We realized we might be able to reduce prices by posting an RFFP (Request for Fake Paper) and entertaining bids. We wanted to leverage the web’s unequaled capacity for cutthroat competition. Which leads us to…

Vendor #2: The open exchange

Upon visiting a second vendor’s site, we realized they have a better business model. After filling out just a few fields describing our paper needs, we were able to sit back and let multiple ghostwriters bid for our contract!

We laid out the scope:

Remarkably, after pressing Enter, and after a brief wait of literally five seconds, the screen changed and we were surprised to see 22 writers had reviewed and bid on our proposal!


We had thought we had an obscure topic, but as it turns out, this marketplace put us in touch with over a dozen writers who happened to specialize in that very thing! What’s more, they were all currently online, ready to discuss details and close the sale.

As a bonus, most of the writers were good looking!

And, they were exceedingly deferential, offering lots of “dears” and “kindly’s.” Americans are so polite!

Most writers made a point of noting they would not plagiarize. This was usually expressed as an absolute percentage, as in “0% plagiarism” or “100% plagiarism free.” We wondered if this distinguishes them from other writers who might only promise “3% plagiarism” or “mostly original”—but we didn’t see any of those. Regardless, we appreciated the ghostwriters’ 100% commitment to ethical standards.

While most touted their expertise on Coleridge and German philosophers, we also respected the candor of Indisputable, who made a more humble statement:

How glad we were that we hadn’t made that first deal with Jesy! The pricing here was even cheaper, with many bids in the $400 range, plus we could select from multiple experts.

But we’re not dummies. We wanted to confirm the qualifications of these authors just a bit. So we asked some questions, beginning with the intelligent-looking TutorSimon, who happened to be an expert on our topic:

Given his expertise, we added a couple of requests about those German philosophers:

We were delighted with TutorSimon’s erudition and continued the creative interaction:

We liked that TutorSimon was both well-informed and agreeable, but in the interest of due diligence thought we should interview other candidates. We turned to bidder Lisah, who bears an uncanny resemblance to Taylor Swift:

Lisah’s profile mentioned her PhD credentials, and we were curious about that:

Lisah was certainly confident and well-qualified, but we decided to review one more candidate. We turned to chat with the handsome, tuxedoed smithwriter:

This reproach from smithwriter demonstrated a pervasive theme among the paper mills: exchanging personal information with writers is verboten! Is it possible the vendors are concerned that customers might make side-deals with the writing talent? Is there no honor among ghostwriters?

So it was not surprising that smithwriter did not want to offer details about his background. But perhaps with a little more pressing…

Kismet! We had managed to find the site with over 20 experts to write our paper, and already we’d found two Harvard grads among them!

This abundance of experts was spoiling us. Given the writing talent available, we wondered if we might be able to commission a truly monumental research work—maybe something worthy of publication in a fancy journal such as European Romantic Review, or beyond! This could be the first step on our path to a luxurious tenure! We decided to push the envelope with one more vendor…

Vendor #3: The multidisciplinary approach

Immediately upon landing on the next vendor’s site, we saw a list of their top-ten authors, and number nine caught our eye: an archeologist! He boasted a “100% success rate” and a ninth place worldwide ranking.

This inspired an idea for a ground-breaking topic, and we summoned chat agent Vivienne so we could talk business.

At $18 per page, our seminar paper would cost around $540, although we expected additional upcharges for the higher level required. That still sounded reasonable–but could we secure the services of Archeologist?

Vivienne explained we needed to submit an order first, and we could select a writer after that:

Once again, we had crossed a professional boundary. We were worried we might have offended another vendor. Despair set in, as we questioned whether we’d ever be able to reach an agreement with Archeologist. He must be very busy, after all, given his #9 global ranking. Perhaps this was not meant to be.


Like Coleridge coming-to from a laudanum reverie, we snapped back to reality, realizing we had been intoxicated by the abundance of internet experts who were so eager to outsource our intellect. We began to consider:

  1. Given the supply of dozens of these types of services, including countless contract writers, what does that suggest about the corresponding demand which must exist among students?
  2. On these sites, we saw many customer testimonials where students noted these services freed up time to work at jobs, allowing the students to make more money, in turn allowing the students to pay for college, where they cheat with fake papers. What does this absurd loop tell us about the cynicism of many of today’s students?

We offer this advice to any students who, faced with a tedious assignment and a quickly approaching deadline, may be tempted by the gentle siren call of these paper services: kindly do not use them, dear. They are 100% bad. And their “quality of work speaks volume.