Among other things, if the order of a TFG or TFM is done immediately, they offer a discount and a free PowerPoint for your presentation and defense.
In recent years, as we have written before, we are witnessing the emergence of platforms for the sale of academic works made worldwide. Most of these websites, which in an aseptic and politically correct tone can be described as “academic services” and with another more daring but adjusted to the reality of “facilitators of academic fraud”, are firmly committed to online marketing to attract customers. . Most of the sixty portals that we have identified and analyzed make use of display_advertising, while almost half insert ads in search engines.
It seems evident that these companies act knowing that their potential clients constitute a group highly exposed to online advertising, a generational cohort that spends a lot of time connected to the Internet and that, moreover, has search engines as its main source of access to information. information. The firm commitment to online advertising by the companies that own these platforms is demonstrated, for example, by entering “TFG Ayuda” in the Google search engine.
A good part of the results of the first entries that appear on the list correspond to advertisements of companies that offer the completion of a TFG , suggesting to their potential clients not to worry, that for a reasonable price they will make a job with which they will surely approve and, furthermore, if the TFG is ordered immediately, they offer a discount and a free PowerPoint for its presentation and defense. To better understand these true incitements to academic fraud, we have analyzed the content of the advertisements that the Spanish platforms of academic services have inserted in search engines for two years.
Help and impersonation
The messages of the advertisements of the analyzed platforms advertise two types of services: mostly, help in the execution of academic work, and less frequently -at least explicitly- the complete completion of these works.
Explicit references to help services appear in ads on almost every platform. These references appear both in the form of appeals ( “Do you need help with your TFG? We can help you” ; “ We help you only what is necessary to complete your work” ; “Get help today”, etc.) and in slogans (“ Comprehensive help”, “Help and support service during the preparation of the TFG or TFM”; “Customized support”; “Advice on TFG”, etc.).
In many cases, the offers of help are presented associated with references to the personnel who will carry out this function: “Experienced experts will help you” , “Find the ideal tutor (…) and receive help” ; “We help you with your work (…) with qualified teachers”; “Specialized professionals (…) will help you with your project” . It should be noted that some of the references to offers of help are highly ambiguous, to the point of masking proposals for impersonation. This is the case, for example, of the messages “Do you need help with your thesis? Leave it in our hands”, “Buy TFM, we can help you”, “Buy TFG (…) professionals… help you….”, “We do it for you (…) professionals… help you”.
In the advertisements of almost 75% of the platforms, messages appear that clearly and explicitly propose the impersonation of the authorship of the works: “We do your university work”; “We do it for you”; “Order your work…”; “Buy your TFG, thesis or master’s degree”; “university assignments”; “Complete elaboration”; “We write your thesis”; “We write your thesis”; “Qualified specialists will do their job”, etc.
Practically, three quarters of the platforms are promoted in search engines stating that they offer a personalized service that is specified in providing tailored support, with support throughout the process (“personalized tutor”; “in all phases…”); with direct communication (“contact with the editor”; “direct communication with your specialist”) basically through online contact (“online advice”; “online 24/7”).
Advertisements from 13 portals refer to various types of guarantees, especially referring to final success (“approved 100% guaranteed”; “guarantee of success in writing”). Slogans, appeals or information referring to economic aspects appear in more than half of the advertisements and are, in most cases, very general (“the best prices”), with appeals to request a quote, offering advantageous conditions ( “we accept partial payments”; “payment facilities”) and ensuring that the payment system is secure (“secure payment”; “secure transactions”).
Only in the advertisements of a website the price is specified: “TFG from 5 euros page” and “TFM from 7 euros page” . References to the speed of the service appear in the advertisements of half of the portals (“Your tfg in a week”; “Your project in a very short time”). The confidentiality of the service is another characteristic that is referred to in the announcements, specifically in those of 10 platforms (“100% confidential”; “Total confidentiality”).
Can it continue like this?
The analysis that we have carried out, and of which in this article we only point out some of the results, show that the advertising messages of the Spanish platforms of academic services represent a clear incitement for the students to buy the evaluation works, encouraging the commission of fraudulent practices. It is unacceptable, to give an example, that the first results that Google throws up when searching for help in carrying out a TFG are advertisements with obvious sales proposals.
The measures to address the situation described are diverse and disparate in nature: educational, communicative, legal, pressure. Among the latter, we should consider the request to the big technology companies to reject the advertisements of companies dedicated to the sale of academic works.
If our academic authorities decide to do so, they can consult the model letter used at the end of 2018 by the UK’s Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA). No one would accuse them of plagiarism and, if successful, they would help prevent one of the most heinous and pernicious forms of academic fraud in college: the buying and selling of assessment papers.