Pens for Hire: Part 3


  • Geoffrey E. Buerger Kiita Learning Community, Barrow, Alaska



academic fraud, Canada, contract cheating, ghost writing, history, term paper mills


This is Part 3 of a three part invited article series examining the historical evolution of the contract cheating industry. Parts 1 and 2 were concerned chiefly with the emergence of the commercial trade in academic work in the United States and the varied responses it elicited in that country. This article discusses Canadian attempts to combat that phenomenon, and focusses on York University’s actions against Custom Essay Service in the late 1980s. Part 3 concludes with a series of questions to encourage reflection and discussion with students or educators and practitioners.


Classified advertisements. (1972, February). The Varisity.

Crawford, T. (1989, May 9). Universities get tough with cheaters. Toronto Star.

“Outline of investigation utter forged documents” (police notes).

Drake, S. (1975, November 10). Letter to the Editor headed “Students, fink on esay banks!” The Varsity, 4.

Dundas, D. (1988, November 10). York students face criminal charges for cheating. Excalibur, 1.

Galt, V. (1999, November 8). Essay-writing services vie for campus customers. Globe and Mail, A11.

How’s essay business? Dying at $5 a page. (1978, March 10). Globe and Mail.

Humphreys, A. (1989, May 25). Mac students in essay scam. Silhouette, 1.

Interview with Sergeant Brian Dickson, 21 Division. (1999, August 23).

Katz, S. (1972, February). Academic dishonesty: The Custom Essay Service revisited. Faculty of Arts Newsletter.

Katz, S. (1989, September). Academic offences: An update. Faculty of Arts Newsletter, 5.

Muir, K. (1971, November 17). Plagiarism: Only for the lazy? The Varsity, 6–7.

Murray, M., & Gould, J. (1989, April 20). Essays can cost up to $22 a page employee says. Toronto Star.

Pirate essays. (1975). In Journey to the Centre of Parnassus: The 1975 SAC Handbook (pp. 68–69). University of Toronto Students’ Administrative Council.

R. v. Askov, 74 D.L.R. (4th) 355(S.C.C.).

Schmidt, S. (1998, June 22). Wired world gives cheating a new face. Globe and Mail.

Student newspaper at U of T bans ads offering essay help. (1975, November 19). Toronto Star.

Termpapers Service advertisement. (1973, January 10). The Varsity.

Termpapers Unlimited of Toronto advertisement. (1973, March 16). The Varsity.

Trustees of Boston University v. Minute Research Co., No. 10908, (1981).

Trustees of Boston University v. Scherer, No. 27746. (1981).

“unclassified.” (1972, November 10). The Varsity, 10.

“unclassified.” (1975). The Varsity, 8.

Undated letter circa 1974 from Fraser Cowley, Chairman, Committee on Purchase of Term Papers, to C. Grant Clarke, Secretary of the Council of Ontario Universities. York University Archives, 1977-013/036, “COU - Term Paper Business, 1972, 1975.” (1974). York University Archives.

University of Toronto Archives. (1972a). M.H. Blackburn (?) to Vice-President Ross dated Jan 11/72, in folder labelled: “Internal Affairs Committee - Discipline Part I.”

University of Toronto Archives. (1972b, February). Council of Ontario Universities, monthly review: A78-0028/037, Office of the President - Educational Associations.

University of Toronto Archives. (1973). Pirate Papers flyer dated June 1973 in UTA “Internal Affairs Committee - Discipline Part II.”

Vaswani, S. (1988, February 4). Five students, janitor found guilty. Excalibur, 1.

Walkom, T. (1971, November 17). Stop all plagiarism by killing degrees. The Varsity, 4.

Webber, M. J. (1989, March 19). Internal e-mail memorandum to Gerri Woodford. President’s Office of York University.

Witherspoon, A. (1995, June). This pen for hire: On grinding out papers for college students. Harper’s Magazine, 56.

Woodcock, C. (1976, April 4). U of T to ‘stamp out’ black market essays? Toronto Sun.

York University Archives. (1987, November 10). Policy and procedures prohibiting on-campus activity by essay-writing services.




How to Cite

Buerger, G. E. (2023). Pens for Hire: Part 3. Canadian Perspectives on Academic Integrity, 5(2), 4–15.



Invited article