Essay mill too close for comfort

March 10, 2006

A leading academic populariser has lambasted online bookshop Amazon for advertising "essay mill" websites for students alongside books by academics.

Ian Stewart, professor of mathematics at Warwick University, was horrified to find the websites flagged up next to information on his latest book, Letters to a Young Mathematician . One website boasts that the essays it sells will guarantee a 2:1 honours degree. Another claims to be able to produce research papers and academic proposals for a fee.

Professor Stewart has written asking Amazon to remove the adverts and has asked his publisher to write to the company.

Professor Stewart said: "I have informed Amazon that I disapprove heartily.

Responsible organisations should not encourage plagiarism. I am sure Amazon did not think about what it was doing, but it should not be advertising theses services at all."

He said that he might add to the "author's comment box" next to his book on the Amazon site if his request is refused. "There's very little that authors can do about this," he said. As The Times Higher went to press, the links to the sites remained.

The Amazon website has become a major selling outlet for academic books.

But several books on essay-writing skills are also listed next to adverts for online plagiarism services on the Amazon website.

An Amazon spokesperson was unavailable for comment.

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