A Student Needs Help With A Term Paper

We receive emails at work just about every week from students who need information for term papers, articles, and research reports.  I love that they’re writing about horror, or publishing, or the authors we publish.  I hate that they think we’re idiots and will write their paper for them.

I started this post back in November because one student’s email really made me laugh, but then I decided to wait to post it until after the semester was over, just in case this somehow got back to her professor.  Who knows with the Internet, right?  Here is the email that inspired this miscellaneous thought:

From: “XXXXXXXXXXX” <XXXXXXX@capecod.edu>
Date: Thu, 10 Nov 2011 11:52:15 -0500
To: “‘info@cemeterydance.com'” <info@cemeterydance.com>
Conversation: XXXXXXXX
Subject: XXXXXXXXX

11/10/2011

Dear Sir or Madam:

Hi!  My name is XXXXXX, and I am a fan of Stephen King.  I

am doing an analytical review of Blockade Billy for my English Composition

class.  I was wondering does your publishing company have any book critics

that have reviewed Blockade Billy and have published their review on the

Internet.  Could you tell me where to find these reviews?  Where do I find

these reviews on the Internet?  Could you cite these reviews in MLA format

with the author of the review, name of article, publishing source, and date

of publication or date of when the review was written?  Where would I go on

the Internet to find more reviews on Blockade Billy?  How was Blockade Billy

originally released by your publishing company, and how and when did

Scribner originally publish Blockade Billy?  Please e-mail me with the

answers to my questions and send me any other information about the novella,

Blockade Billy.  I need the information by next Friday.  Thank-you. My

e-mail is XXXXXXX.

Thank-you.

Sincerely,

XXXXXX

There’s so much in here that I love! The way she asks three times where she can find reviews of Blockade Billy on the Internet, for example.  And there’s something about “Could you tell me where to find these reviews?  Where do I find these reviews on the Internet?” that sounds almost musical to me.

But the best part, of course, is where she asks: “Could you cite these reviews in MLA format with the author of the review, name of article, publishing source, and date of publication or date of when the review was written?”

Well, yes, I can… because I actually paid attention during my college classes and wrote my own papers.  The better question is… can you?  🙂

16 thoughts on “A Student Needs Help With A Term Paper”

  1. I may not be able to cite the MLA format (I’d have to look that up in my old text books-or go to the internet for it), but I can find a ton of reviews for Blockade Billy just by using any search engine. It doesn’t take a genius: just someone who isn’t too lazy for five minutes worth of work.

    1. Unless they get caught in the spam filter, which is rarer and rarer these days as the filter has gotten better and better, any email will reach someone who can help you with any question or problem that comes up because all of the public email addresses either goes to Mindy or me, and we answer 99.9% of the customer emails! 🙂

  2. Something like this type of student writing an e-mail like that really makes it harder and bad for us actual students. I mean come on, she doesn’t know how to do a search on the Internet but could e-mail CD for things she should be learning??
    I am a student myself and I always write about horror writing, it’s authors, and the publishing business when I can, and have never asked outright for such stupid requests. This really makes us students who want to get into this genre and work hard, look very bad. This will make writers not want to take the time to help out a student and I understand why.
    I have used alot of Internet resources, writers like Linda Addison helped me with quotes, and just this week I am writing about the Stokers and Lisa Morton wrote up a great blog I could use as a source( I told her I was doing so and she was happy) and also even Jason Ridler said I could use a great interview he did with the creators of the HWA.
    See help is there if you ask right and respect the people you are inquiring about.

    Best,

    Tim Flynn

  3. As a teacher I see this all the time. Students write reviews of the book they read for my class. I had one student who copied the blurb form the back of the book. When I nailed her on it she changed tactics and copied a review from Amazon. Unfortunately it was one a friend had written and I recognized it. They go to so many lengths to avoid their own work.

  4. Oh, this makes me sad. I think about the hundreds, if not thousands, of hours I spent at libraries during my undergrad and grad years, and how Internet-fed students assume there is no value to that experience. They’ll never know the joy of roll-up-your-sleeves research. (And I don’t mean it can’t be computer-based research. I still roll up my virtual sleeves.) Just so sad.

  5. Well, let me play devil’s advocate on this. Perhaps this student has a crazy eye or something and long periods at the computer weaken said eye to the point she has debilitating dizziness which then sends her pinging and ponging around her place like a Roomba on acid. And then the next thing you know, WHAM! she’s down on the ground with a broken uvula.

    Does Cemetery Dance really want to be responsible for a broken uvula?

    😉

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