Expert advice

Legal advice: Is it okay to buy an essay online to help with an assessment?

Submitting someone else's work as your own is plagiarism. It is just not worth the risk, says Marc Cornock. 

Question: Is it okay to buy an essay online to help with an assessment?

There is no legal, ethical or professional reason why you shouldn’t buy an essay to help with your assessments – it is the same as buying a book. 

buying essays
There are dangers using essays bought online. Photo: iStock

However, it is not the purchase of the essay that needs consideration, it is what you are going to use it for. 

Some people buy an essay with the intention of submitting it as their own work. Not only does this constitute plagiarism, in a professional context it is fraud if registration is obtained based on that assessment.

So how else can you use the essay? Many of the essay selling websites have a disclaimer stating the essay you are buying is not intended to be used as your own work but as a piece of research, a model answer to use as a starting point for your own research, or an example of how to construct an essay on that topic. 

If you intend to use the essay as a piece of research to guide you in the right direction for your own work, this would probably be okay, provided you did not use any of the essay in your own assessment. 

But why pay an organisation for this when you can do the same in a tutorial with your lecturer or fellow students?  

If you plan to submit the essay as your own work – don’t. It is not worth the risk of being caught. Instead, talk through your understanding of the assessment with your tutor or fellow students. 

Marc Cornock is a qualified nurse, academic lawyer and senior lecturer at the Open University

This article is for subscribers only