The Legitimacy of Academic Ghostwriters

September 14, 2014 0 2664

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Many people are unaware of how pervasive ghostwriting actually is. It is a craft that is practiced in virtually all professions. Would you be surprised to know that your favorite celebrity’s critically acclaimed autobiography was written by a ghostwriter? Chances are it probably was. What about that self-help book by a nationally-known psychologist? Or that book of financial advice by a business legend? Many, many well-known and popular works of this kind were written by ghostwriters. The reason for this is simple. Most people simply do not possess the skills or have the time that is necessary to write a book of high quality.

Writing is an art form just like many other things. To be a good writer, you need talent, of course. But talent isn’t all that it takes. A good writer works hard to develop their craft, and this is something that is done over a period of many years. A professional quality writer is no different than a professional musician or a professional artist. The average person cannot reasonably be expected to simply pick up a musical instrument and perform on the level of someone who has studied music and practiced their instrument over the course of a lifetime. An inexperienced artist cannot be expected to pick up a paintbrush and paint a masterpiece. Obviously, efforts of these kinds involve much work, skill, and training.

Unfortunately, the world of academia often expects students to be the equivalent of instant superstar musicians or instant renowned artists when it comes to academic writing. Let’s be honest. Your high school experience didn’t provide you with the training and skills you need to produce quality academic papers of the kind you are routinely expected to write during the course of your higher education. That’s not your fault. The blame lies with an educational system that is dysfunctional. Too many students are being sent off to college, and even admitted to prestigious universities, without the skills they will need to succeed as academic writers. Yet they will be expected to complete academic writing assignments that require the level of skill of an experienced author.

Celebrities use ghost writers. Politicians hire ghostwriters to write their speeches. Business leaders use ghostwriters. Even many books by well-known religious leaders were ghostwritten (yes, it’s true!). Many, many popular songs were ghostwritten.  Recording artists will hire someone to write a song for them, but publish the song under their own name. Ghostwriting takes place in these other professions yet somehow ghostwriting is considered to be unethical only for the academic community. But is it reasonable and fair to expect students to produce professional quality writing when they have not been given the skills they need by an educational system that has shortchanged them? Is it ethical that colleges and universities expect students to simply become writers with professional level skills overnight and with no training? Of course it’s not.

If you’re a student, then you’re a paying customer. You are paying many thousands of dollars to a university in exchange for a quality education. Your education is about you, not about the university. Your responsibility is to make sure you get your money’s worth as an education consumer, and to maximize your marketability in the workforce when you finish college. If actors, athletes, rock stars, politicians, business people, psychologists, and preachers can all use ghostwriters, then why can’t struggling students like you?

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