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Thread: Article: $7,000 Buys Dissertation and Flashy Degree

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    Article: $7,000 Buys Dissertation and Flashy Degree

    From today's JRL; I found it to be an interesting piece and I thought I'd share. Tell the truth, Russian MRшики, have you ever done this?


    Moscow Times
    $7,000 Buys Dissertation and Flashy Degree
    By Oksana Yablokova
    Staff Writer

    Want to get a doctorate but don't feel like spending months in a library and days and nights in front of a computer composing a dissertation? No problem. For $1,000 to $7,000, a consultant or an entire firm will write the dissertation for you and prep you on defending it before an academic board.

    In a worrisome trend for the academic community, dubious academic credential-building has become a common practice among businessmen, politicians and young men hoping to avoid military service, who use ghostwritten work, or at least someone else's help in writing a dissertation, to obtain a degree.

    The issue of scholastic integrity took the spotlight last week after U.S. researchers declared that large parts of an economics dissertation written by President Vladimir Putin in the mid-1990s had been lifted from a U.S. textbook published 20 years earlier. The Kremlin has not commented on the issue.

    There is a simple motivation behind the demand for paid dissertations: The popularity of academic degrees has been growing steadily in recent years. The Russian State Library, which has obtained every dissertation defended in the country since 1944, received a record 31,000 works last year, said Nina Avdeyeva, who works in the library's dissertation department.

    The Russian system of academic degrees is different from most Western systems and includes a "candidate of science" degree, which is roughly the equivalent of a Ph.D., and a higher degree of "doctor of science." Seekers of both degrees are required to write a dissertation and defend it before an academic board.

    Firms that offer to write dissertations estimate that up to 30 percent of all postgraduate students resort to their services these days, and they said the number continued to grow.

    Most students seek a candidate of science degree but are too busy to put their careers on hold for the six or more months that it takes to write a dissertation, industry experts said.

    They also have various needs. Some ask for assistance at a certain stage of their studies, while others want the dissertation written from beginning to end. But cases of people who only read their work for the first time as they prepare to defend it are rare, and few consultants or firms are willing to risk working on such assignments.

    "We only deal with clients whom we see as capable of writing the dissertation themselves," said Ksenia Bakhvalova, general director of LSS Group, a Moscow firm specializing in helping students write dissertations.

    "If a client knows nothing about the subject, we won't be able to help because he or she will never be able to defend the dissertation before the academic board," Bakhvalova said.

    She said that her firm has contacts with several dozen researchers in various sciences who specialize in writing dissertations from start to finish.

    Bakhvalova said that some 70 percent of her firm's clients are male college and university graduates in their 20s who want to enter a postgraduate program to avoid compulsory military service.

    By law, postgraduate students cannot be drafted while they are affiliated with a university or research institute and preparing their dissertations. Once they receive the degree, they automatically become ineligible for the draft.

    "By using our services, clients are killing two birds with one stone: getting a degree that will look good on their resumes; and liberating themselves from the annual fear of being drafted and having to pay a new bribe to avoid it," Bakhvalova said in a recent interview in her central Moscow office, a simple room with a desk and chairs. She wore a United Russia pin on her jacket.

    "We often end up dealing with the mothers and fathers of degree seekers who are ready to pay to ensure that their sons do not end up in the army," Bakhvalova said.

    The rest of Bakhvalova's clients include entrepreneurs, government officials and lawyers, usually in their 40s and 50s, with successful careers and the desire to boost their prestige in the eyes of other people.

    She declined to identify any of her clients.

    Pavel Kochkin, development manager of a firm called the Library Fund for Postgraduates and Degree Seekers, said that most postgraduate students had solid reasons for not writing the dissertations by themselves.

    "Obtaining an academic degree is a very complicated, bureaucratic procedure, and few degree seekers can meet all the requirements, especially if they have full-time jobs or live in the regions," Kochkin said.

    For example, the students need to publish at least three articles in scientific journals and spend weeks in a special dissertation library outside Moscow, collecting statistics and other materials necessary to write the dissertation, Kochkin said.

    He said that his firm's services include recommendations to postgraduate programs in Moscow colleges and universities that compose and publish articles, as well as general consultations on how to write and present dissertations.

    "Of course the dissertation should be innovative and have practical value," Kochkin said.

    Students also have to make sure that no other dissertations have been written on the same topic over the past five years or the academic board might reject the work.

    "There are dozens of little details that most people simply do not know about, and we can advise them. As such, we have to inform applicants that it is an unavoidable tradition to throw a dinner or reception for the members of the academic board after the presentation of the thesis," Kochkin said.

    He and Bakhvalova refused to disclose their earnings but said they charged $1,000 to $7,000 per dissertation, depending on the client's needs.

    "On the whole, this is a fun business that brings in good revenues," Bakhvalova said.

    A senior academician who chairs the history branch of the Highest Academic Qualification Commission, a postgraduate oversight agency in the Education and Science Ministry, acknowledged that ghostwriting was a big problem.

    "What is true is that it has become extremely popular with government officials to obtain academic degrees by presenting dissertations of very poor quality," said Alexander Chubaryan, who also heads the Academy of Sciences' World History Research Institute.

    "This practice does worry us because it leads to the devaluation of the academic community's reputation," Chubaryan said.

    The majority of dissertations are written in economics, pedagogical studies and law, he said.

    Bakhvalova confirmed that these are the most popular fields, adding that firms like hers do not deal with writing dissertations in the technical or natural sciences. "Problems with those works are eminent, so we prefer not to take the risk," she said.

    She also said far fewer clients sought the dissertations required to get the higher doctor of science degree. These are more serious works and subject to closer scrutiny by academic boards, making them much more expensive, Bakhvalova said.

    Chubaryan said academic boards were aware of the problem of ghostwriting but found it hard to prove when considering dissertations. He noted that boards currently cannot be held accountable for approving dodgy dissertations and suggested it would help to make them at least partially responsible.

    "Then we need to put an end to this stream of dissertations written by government officials and lawmakers by making them subject to a thorough examination," Chubaryan said.

    Most federal ministers have advanced degrees, as do 214 of the 450 deputies in the State Duma.

    Kochkin said postgraduate students often resort to the services of his firm after failing to receive guidance from mentors at their places of study.

    "If you are fortunate, you will get a good mentor who guides you and oversees all the stages of your work. But many students only see their unmotivated mentors twice a year," Kochkin said.

    Chubaryan conceded that the process of completing postgraduate school was difficult but said that was no excuse to not study. "I understand the difficulties that students encounter on the way to obtaining a degree, but a degree seeker should still do everything by himself. That is the only way," he said.
    Заранее благодарю всех за исправление ошибок в моём русском.

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    Well... Two of my friends got "candidate of science" degree, but they did it on their on. They say things like these realy happen, but they avoided ghostwritting just because they were self-motivated to make dissertation all by themselves. I also know a guy who writes math to be inserted in someone's dissertation. He is just said an objective, some source data and a deadline, he doesn't even know applicant's namehe writes formulas for.
    Единственное, что люди любят давать бесплатно - это советы.

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    It's hardly news. On the scale of what has been going on in R since the beginning of the 90s academic misconduct is small potatoes. For many people the word "honest" is a synonym of "stupid".
    I've got a TV, and I'm not afraid to use it

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    Quote Originally Posted by adoc
    It's hardly news. On the scale of what has been going on in R since the beginning of the 90s academic misconduct is small potatoes. For many people the word "honest" is a synonym of "stupid".
    No, I understand that. I just thought it was kind of interesting -- and I don't know that most Westerners know about it. It doesn't really hit me as "cheating" in the same sense as bringing in a copy of exam answers, but it still seems lousy.
    Заранее благодарю всех за исправление ошибок в моём русском.

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    Seems cheating to me, but hell, I'd do it to avoid an English military service, let alone the lovely Russian variety.
    Ленин пил
    Ленин пьёт
    Ленин будет пить

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    2 a native Russian:

    Doesn't marriage also make you ineligeable for the draft as well?

    tdk

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    Quote Originally Posted by tdk2fe
    2 a native Russian:

    Doesn't marriage also make you ineligeable for the draft as well?

    tdk
    Russian law is murky at this point.
    The laws that regulate the draft are being changed almost every year. DUMA tries its best to supply to the Ministry of Defence the numbers it require by "fine tuning" the law.
    Marriage has never been the excuse for not joining the army. There had been some provision that allowed those who had no less than 2 children under 3 years of age not to go to army. But it was then. As far as I know, DUMA has cancelled the delay for aspirants so now either you pay bribe and not go or join the army no matter whether you're aspirant or not.

    My story is simple - after I had graduated I had to serve for 2 months to graduate the Military Chair and to gain the rank of a leutenant. After this the army had left me in peace.
    Send me a PM if you need me.

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    JB
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    Seems silly to spend all that time and money when you can buy any diploma or degree in the Moscow perihods.
    Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JB
    Seems silly to spend all that time and money when you can buy any diploma or degree in the Moscow perihods.
    Heck, why bother leaving your apartment? I get emails offering them all the time! For a few bucks, you too can be a graduate of Nigeria U.
    Заранее благодарю всех за исправление ошибок в моём русском.

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    No way, brothers! This is cheating on a very serious level. I'm doing my candidate degree and keeping on very well on my own! I like scholarly work and feel very motivated. Amen.
    «И всё, что сейчас происходит внутре — тоже является частью вселенной».

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    DDT
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    Hmmm......I wonder how much it would be for a small typing certificate for say...30 words per minute?
    Let me be a free man, free to travel, free to stop, free to work, free to trade where I choose, free to choose my own teachers, free to follow the religion of my fathers, free to talk, think and act for myself. - Chief Joseph, Nez Perce

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    Why are you interested?
    «И всё, что сейчас происходит внутре — тоже является частью вселенной».

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    DDT
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    Yes, I need one.
    Let me be a free man, free to travel, free to stop, free to work, free to trade where I choose, free to choose my own teachers, free to follow the religion of my fathers, free to talk, think and act for myself. - Chief Joseph, Nez Perce

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    It's easy to get trained just typing at the forum. But who's in charge for certificates? MasterAdmin?..
    «И всё, что сейчас происходит внутре — тоже является частью вселенной».

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    DDT
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    Training? No! I will gladly buy one!
    Let me be a free man, free to travel, free to stop, free to work, free to trade where I choose, free to choose my own teachers, free to follow the religion of my fathers, free to talk, think and act for myself. - Chief Joseph, Nez Perce

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    Sorry, I'm no helper.
    «И всё, что сейчас происходит внутре — тоже является частью вселенной».

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    Rtyom supplies nuclear reactors. He can't be bothered with your penny-ante fake documents, DDT...
    Заранее благодарю всех за исправление ошибок в моём русском.

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    Barmaley, you still need one?.. I understand you as you being hint-throwing at me with rolling these innocent eyes:
    «И всё, что сейчас происходит внутре — тоже является частью вселенной».

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