Great question. Let's start out by asking a few more questions. Is using Wikipedia cheating? How about participating in a study group? Reading the textbook? What if a friend proofreads a paper for you? What if you search for something on Google?
The truth is, any resource, online or otherwise, can be used for both learning and cheating. All of these resources are different and have only one thing in common: you, the student. So, before you use Course Merit or any other resource, ask yourself:
Do I have my instructor's permission to use this resource? For instance, you wouldn't open your textbook during a closed-book exam, right?
Do I have an honest desire to learn, or am I just trying to get someone to do my homework for me?
If (students') purpose was having someone else do their work, that would be viewed as a violation. But if people are using it as a tutor, then it's a tutor. It's the same online as it would be getting help at your neighbors apartment.
Course Merit is not endorsed by any university or any university personnel
At the end of the day, we believe that most students don't use Course Merit to cheat, and that we make a positive contribution by helping people learn. Here's what some students have said about the tutoring they've received on Course Merit:
"Explanations were easy to understand and only wish that I had known this kind of help was available earlier."
"Wonderful to work with and very helpful. More helpful than my own professor."
"Great work! You gave great examples and explained everything. Thank you!!"
"Your detail goes far beyond what my Lewis & Loftin book offers. If you not a teacher you should be. Cheers!"
So what's your Academic Honesty Policy?
We're thrilled that thousands upon thousands of students use Course Merit to get tutoring help. We believe that we've created a wonderful opportunity for students, tutors, experts, and even professors to come together and share knowledge. Our tutorial marketplace allows students to get tutorial help for less money because tutors can share a single tutorial effort with more than one student.
We are committed to creating and maintaining a culture of learning and integrity. Sometimes this is pretty easy: If a student asks someone to write a paper or take a final exam for them, it's obviously cheating. We explicitly warn against posting such questions, scan for them and remove any we become aware of. Sometimes it's more difficult: if a student asks for an explanation of a chemistry equation, how do we determine they have both permission and an honest intention to learn? Ultimately, we have put strong measures and language in place to discourage abuse, but it is up to you to act with honor and integrity.
Our tutors must act responsible too. If a student wants someone to take a final for them, no cheating occurs (beyond the dishonesty of their intent) until someone else comes along and says, "Sure, I'll take your final for you." Therefore, our policy covers both students and tutors as follows:
Our Academic Honesty Policy for Students
We know everyone tells you to take school seriously. But hey, we're going to tell you that too. So remember: it's wonderful to use Course Merit to get help learning how to solve tough homework questions, but it's absolutely not OK to cheat!
Don't ask people to complete entire assignments or write essays for you.
Don't ask people to take quizzes, exams, tests, or final exams for you.
Don't post a question unless you have your instructors implicit or explicit permission. For instance, don't ask someone to proofread a paper for you if your instructor says this is against their rules.
Don't post a question without an honest intention to learn from your tutor's help. If you simply turn in their help as your own work, you're cheating!
What's in it for you? In the long run, your grades and where you went to school won't matter at all if you don't actually learn what you're supposed to be studying. We were (and are) students just like you, so trust us when we say that you'll only gain something out of going to school if you make an real education out of it.
If you are found cheating, you will be banned from ever using Course Merit again!
Our Academic Honesty Policy for Tutors
We want you to earn lots of money on Course Merit. Remember, though, that you have a duty to teach, not help students cheat.
Provide complete tutorials and explanations, not just answers. Your tutorial must include more help and explanations than what students would ordinarily turn in on their own.
Never write essays or papers for people.
Never complete finals, quizzes, or tests for a student.
What's in it for you?
First and foremost, if you are found helping other students cheat, you will be banned forever and will forfeit any remaining balance or claim to your tutorials!
Course Merit shows 20% previews of all solutions. Good solutions with complete explanations are purchased more often than short solutions with only answers. The solutions that earn the most are the ones that help people learn.
Students award the best ratings to tutors who provide good explanations and legitimate tutoring. Short answers receive poor feedback and don't earn much money.