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Is It Legal to Buy a Thesis?

While it's not illegal to buy a thesis, it's highly discouraged due to academic integrity policies. Universities consider it plagiarism, which can lead to severe consequences. Instead, why not seek help in understanding your topic better? What areas of your thesis are you struggling with?
Christina Edwards
Christina Edwards

A thesis, sometimes called a dissertation, is a written paper that is typically a graduation requirement, especially for those obtaining an advanced degree, such as a doctorate or master's degree. These papers require extensive, quality research. Many times, writing a thesis can take up to a year or more to complete. Because writing a thesis is so demanding, there are some students that are constantly looking for shortcuts when writing these papers. One option is to buy a thesis. While in most places it is technically legal to buy a thesis, there are only certain ways that these purchased papers can be legitimately be used.

Purchased thesis papers purchased are typically supposed to be used for research, reference, or guideline purposes. According to some, they are meant to give students a "better idea" of how to write their own paper. Almost all of the sites that offer thesis papers for sale have some sort of disclaimer. These disclaimers usually state that any work that is purchased may only be used for research purposes and should be accurately referenced.

With extra-curricular activities, class load, and family life, many students may feel pressured to turn in a quality thesis on a deadline.
With extra-curricular activities, class load, and family life, many students may feel pressured to turn in a quality thesis on a deadline.

In most areas it is legal to buy a thesis. The way that it is used, however, is the biggest issue. A student who buys a thesis and turns it in as his or her own work can be sued in federal court for fraud, copyright infringement, or plagiarism. Plagiarism is defined as the act of presenting the words or ideas of someone else as one's own.

Most college rules state that plagiarism is an academic offense. Penalties vary depending on the violation. If a student were to buy a thesis and turn it in as his own work, for example, he can receive a failing grade or even expulsion in the event that he is caught.

A student may receive help choosing a thesis topic, completing research or editing from her academic advisor.
A student may receive help choosing a thesis topic, completing research or editing from her academic advisor.

With extra-curricular activities, class load, and family life, many students may feel pressured to turn in a quality thesis on a deadline. With the Internet becoming more and more common, a number of sites offer a variety of academic papers. Everything from high school book reports to graduate school dissertations can be purchased.

Many of these sites offer custom papers, and even revisions. A student, or anyone for that matter, can buy a thesis. The price range varies, generally depending on the site, the type of paper needed, subject, length, and deadline. Fees are typically charged either per word or per page.

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Discussion Comments

Buster29

I have to admit I did buy a term paper from a guy in my dorm one year, but it came back to haunt me. It was a good paper, but probably a little too good. The professor figured out I didn't write it after taking another look at my other papers from another course he taught. He gave me a C for the paper, but told me in his office that he could have reported me for academic dishonesty.

I can't imagine hiring someone to write something as serious as a dissertation, though. You have to be able to defend your position with professors, and if you didn't do the research yourself, they'll figure it out.

Reminiscence

More and more instructors are cracking down on the use of purchased theses or research papers, but the business of "academic writing" is still going strong. I'm a freelance writer, and I have seriously considered contributing work to these sites myself. The compensation is usually good and there's plenty of demand for well-written papers.

Charges of plagiarism when it comes to purchased theses are a matter of debate. No, the work being submitted for a grade was not written by the student assigned the task. However, the actual writer may have created an entirely original document. Even if a professor decides to run anti-plagiarism software, the paper itself won't get flagged. It's not plagiarism, strictly speaking, if the work was never published and the author has relinquished all rights.

Essentially, what the student is purchasing is the right to call the thesis his or her own. The real writer has earned enough money to remain discreet. Once the paper is in the hands of the student, it becomes a moral and ethical dilemma, not necessarily a legal one. The ability to dupe a college professor is not something to be proud of.

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    • With extra-curricular activities, class load, and family life, many students may feel pressured to turn in a quality thesis on a deadline.
      By: Nazzalbe
      With extra-curricular activities, class load, and family life, many students may feel pressured to turn in a quality thesis on a deadline.
    • A student may receive help choosing a thesis topic, completing research or editing from her academic advisor.
      By: Tyler Olson
      A student may receive help choosing a thesis topic, completing research or editing from her academic advisor.