Academic Papers at a Discount

On-line portals and private outlets in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), Serbia and Croatia offer to write your B.A. or M.A. and Ph.D. dissertations for prices ranging from €10 to €500.

Representatives of these outlets – who use fake names when talking to clients — say that they write all kinds of papers for undergraduate and graduate students and it’s up to schools giving out degrees to determine if students are writing their own papers.

Professors and educational institutions rarely expose candidates who have used fraudulent means to obtain academic title, and sanctions for that offense vary from school to school.

The representative of a Serbian web page introduced himself to a reporter for the Center for Investigative Reporting in Sarajevo (CIN) as Dejan Najed. The last name Najed, which is Dejan written backwards, does not exist in the Serbian telephone book.

“Well, everyone had their mom and pop do their homework in school,” Dejan told CIN.

He explained that before submitting a paper, a student should memorize everything in it as if he had done it himself. He said that he holds a degree in economy, but that he can easily write papers from other areas such are psychology or information technology.

In order to convince CIN of the quality of service, representatives of the submitted a master’s thesis titled “Contemporary Post Keynesian Macro-Economic Policy”.

In her first contact the reporter did not reveal herself and Dejan replied to her in an email that he was the author of the thesis. After she said she was a reporter, Dejan confirmed what he wrote the paper before saying that he had suspected he had been communicating with a reporter. However, when asked for his real name, he denied his earlier statements saying that his email was hacked by his rivals.

The email noted that Boro Đokić had defended the paper at a private business school this mid-year. Đokić is head of the Department for Youth, Sport and Physical Culture of the city of Bijeljina.

Đokić denies paying for the paper.

“I worked on it for five, six months, maybe even more…There’s a bibliography, there’s everything”, said Đokić adding: “Maybe I sent it later…to help someone, and then someone misused it. Maybe it’s one of (my) pals.

Amar Šodilo, who holds a bachelors in business communication and is doing master studies at the School of Humanities and Social Sciences in Sarajevo, advertises on a facebook page that he writes term papers, thesis and other academic papers.
Photo by CIN

His professor Žarko Ristić, a chancellor for teaching and science and a professor at the University for Business Studies in Banja Luka, said that Đokić was among his better masters candidates. Ristić said that he remembered that this candidate was from Bijeljina and said that Department Chair Perica Gligić was the person to ask about the candidate’s work.

Gligić, in charge of the Bijeljina branch of the University for Business Studies, said that he just gave Đokić the literature, but did not look into the merits of his work nor ever read it.

Exceptional Grade for Someone Else’s Work

CIN reporters found some 30 Internet web portals in Serbia and BiH offering ready-made papers or offering to write them from scratch according to their client’s wishes.

Out of those, 26 were registered in 2007 within a group titled Term Papers and Thesis from Serbia. All portals share two email addresses for communication with clients, and the same person answered both CIN emails saying that there was no need to get in touch with all the portals because the same people were behind them.

The Internet pages cater mainly to Serbia clients, but representatives say that they often work for undergraduate and graduate students in BiH, Croatia, Montenegro and Macedonia.

The market share of the intellectual services belongs also to individuals who offer their services via social networks and Internet advertisements.

Amar Šodilo, a masters student at the School of Political Sciences in Sarajevo, opened a Facebook page in which he advertised term papers, thesis and dissertations. Šodilo is the only supplier of intellectual services who met with CIN and talked openly. He said that he has written around 100 papers in the past three years and that his prices are among the lowest in the market. He said that he wanted them to be affordable to students.

Students and pupils share information about these dealers in academic papers via the school’s internal web pages and social networks, but they rarely share their opinion about the quality of papers or the grades they fetched.

Dalibor, a student from Banje Luka, wrote on an Internet web page in BiH that a term paper he paid for had gotten him an exceptional grade. He told CIN reporters that he had ordered the paper because he did not have time to do it himself.

Milutin, a student of the School of Agriculture in Banja Luka, ordered a thesis titled “Marketing in Bee-keeping” via the Internet, but he gave up because he was afraid that the supplier was not going to deliver it by deadline. Milutin said that he ordered the paper because he was unable to find all the necessary literature.

Without Incorporation and Address

Intellectual services salesmen mostly pose as students or graduates who could not find jobs. The services are arranged via private messages, emails or cell phone calls. During the writing of a paper, the two parties do not get in touch directly, but swap information and materials via emails and texting. First, a client receives payment instructions. Sometimes it is necessary to advance a down payment, but in most cases the buyer pays the whole sum when the work is done.

In their contacts with the intellectual services providers, CIN reporters found out that it was possible to negotiate everything, including the price.

Nermin Đapo, a psychology professor in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences in Sarajevo, said that when teachers are involved in their students” activities the chance for fraud is reduced.
Photo by CIN

Prices are not standardized and depend on the providers and on whether you are ordering a paper already in inventory or one that needs to be written fresh. The cheapest papers are essays and ready-made term papers which cost between €5 and €15. A B.A. thesis can cost between €25 and €200, a M.A: thesis between €50 and €250 and for a Ph.D. dissertation one might pay even up to €500. Some portals offer discounts for certain papers. Others offer to write papers in English, which makes them more expensive.

CIN asked several individuals and portals for quotes for an M.A. thesis in psychology. The web page, replied that several months would be needed and that the price would be €5 per page. The reporters found another salesman who said he would do a 100-page M.A. thesis in four to seven days for €50.

Proving Fraud is Difficult

Students are expected to behave ethically and to respect rules of study set out by their school. The rulebooks that each school passes give clear guidelines and also set out the sanctions for violations. Depending on the school, those sanctions can include expulsion.

Professors from Sarajevo, Zagreb and Belgrade CIN interviewed said that they were aware of classifieds ad for sale of academic papers, but most said that they had not come across students who used such services. Of 10 professors CIN contacted, only Marko Simendić—a professor of history of political theories at the School of Political Sciences in Belgrade–said he had uncovered a case of trade in term papers last year.

Simendić explained that the seller and buyer of the paper were both students in the school and it conducted a disciplinary proceeding against them in accordance with the Rulebook on Disciplinary Responsibility of the Students of Belgrade University. They were accused of serious disciplinary violations, that is, “of using unauthorized means during an exam” and “taking the exam instead of another person”.

Simendić said the school introduced an electronic database of papers in 2011, so professors may now more easily find similarities in the style of writing and the citing of bibliography or of sourcing among different papers. The asymmetry between a student’s efforts during studies and the quality of thesis could also give rise to the suspicions of irregularities, he said.

The Bologna Process now part of the Bosnian education system, requires students to sign a statement of authorship and plagiarism.

Deputy Chief Prosecutor of Sarajevo Canton Mirsad Šehović said that if someone else writes a paper and a student attaches his name to it, that is fraud and misrepresentation to obtain gain. He said that his office has not had such cases.

Nermin Đapo, a professor from the Department for Psychology at the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences in Sarajevo, says that fraud decreases or disappears when are fully involved in their students’ work from the beginning through defense of dissertation.

Dean Ajduković, a professor in the Department for Social Psychology at the School of Humanities and Social Sciences in Zagreb, said that frauds are possible in overcrowded departments where mentors do not keep close watch over students.