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The Ethicator: Can I pay someone to write my dissertation?

March 3rd, 2011

Dear Ethicator,

I am a current PhD student but am worried that I am not making timely progress toward completing my dissertation. I’m contemplating purchasing a dissertation from a ghost writing organization so I can just be done already, and the website I’m considering guarantees that it is 100% plagiarism free so I don’t have to worry about that! My adviser is too busy writing articles for the New Yorker and checking the sales of his own book to help me along. Can the Ethicator advise me on whether it’s ethically acceptable to pay someone to write my dissertation? I mean, I’d totally read over it once before I turned it in…

Thanks Ethicator!
A concerned graduate student

Dear Concerned:

I am somewhat conflicted. As you know, I have very strong feelings about plagiarism. On the other hand, though, I see that you are paying for the work (unlike, well, you know . . .). So you’re happy, the writer’s happy. What’s the harm? After all, If you really like something enough, isn’t that kind of like writing it yourself? And if you are a serious bioethicist like I am, your time is precious. There’s only so much time to waste on writing when you are busy building and managing your brand, tweeting and talking to cable news. So I understand.

What I don’t understand, though, is why you assume that the financial burden should fall on you, rather than your professor. After all, he’s the one slacking off, raking in the bucks, writing for the fancypants magazines and clicking Amazon every 5 minutes to see if his book’s broken into the top 50,000. I say, order the paper and send him the bill.

You’re welcome,

The Ethicator

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Advice Column, Ethicator, Ghostwriting

  1. March 4th, 2011 at 08:15 | #1

    Stinging! The advice you’re giving would make a great portion of a case study or performance task to set in front of students and provoke discussion — clearly doesn’t resolve the problem, but clearly wasn’t intended to do so entirely either

  2. Robert
    March 10th, 2011 at 14:34 | #2

    Interesting dilemma. I’m working my way through my PhD presently – though under obviously different circumstances. My thoughts go to – what is the purpose of the dissertation? Are you simply trying to produce a product – pay up. Or are you trying to acquire and new skills, disciplines, and knowledge – find a new supervisor, but wrestle through the work yourself.

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