This is the second time in a row that I have sat in front the TV watching someone in the name of “an experienced academic writer” show their face to the masses and deliver an irksome account of their murky journey in the field of academic writing. Well, for someone who likes analyzing things and putting it into a particular context, I always will try to understand this person. Their posture, their language, their whole fiscal demeanor, and even the background captured by the camera. If it were up to me, I would assume that these are victims of idleness-induced euphoria, which makes them to feel, in their deepest of guts, that appearing on TV is the ultimate acne of success in writing. This is not wrong. By all means, they should just do their thing and enjoy the fruits. However, while at it, they should not mudsling the ethics of academic writing.
Trust me, I would be the happiest person if I could send the village messenger across homes, small and great, to announce that people should convene at the chief’s field and watch me on the village TV.
Son of the soil will appear on the owl’s eye tonight. He will be talking about these things they do in the city… the village messenger will announce.
But I began by saying that if it were up to me, I would rush and conclude. However, having conversed widely with experts with even better experience, I bet I have to tread softly. In addition to this consideration, there could emerge, myriads of reasons why people appear to be biased when they are on the other side of the screen. Maybe the whole theme of the interview is projected towards eliciting some kind of emotion to the audience. Or maybe, the motivational (read as financial reward or promise for exposure) are the driving factor. All these notwithstanding, the ethics of academic writing have been grossly misrepresented in all these interviews.
“I have like 7 writers, I pay them twice a week. The pay depends on the duration given for the work and the quality,” said one of them during an interview with one major international media house. I picked this line because it reeks of fraud, incompetence, and a lack of understanding of what academic writing is all about. If you ask the pioneers, they will inform you that the ethics of academic writing are deeply embedded in the roots and reasons for which it began. It all started with individual young educators who saw a need for assisting students in understanding their course material better. Having observed that not all students absorb the class material at the same time or with the same volume, there was a need for tutors who would take them through their class work in a slower, step-by-step manner for a better understanding. Thanks to the internet, it panned out as a productive endeavor. This is the model that works in the virtual assistance platforms as well as the major institutions of higher learning. As such, the representation by this individual is misleading.
Apart from the fact that individuals can create organizations or groups that engage in online and offline tutoring, any other engagement can easily be considered unethical. This is especially because a student has to obtain results which reflect their own abilities and level of mastery of the course content. Therefore, with such virtual assistant companies, academic writing is seen for exactly what it is; the process of assisting students, researchers, and reporters to understand areas in their content that would otherwise be difficult to sequester. Talking of grey areas, maybe again, the name “academic writing” is one of the driving factors towards destination lack of ethics. It’s just a name for Pete’s sake!