The University’s Guidelines on Third-party Proofreading aim to provide students, proofreaders and supervisors with a shared understanding of good, ethical practice in relation to the third-party proofreading of written work.
In some instances University staff may be able to provide a list of professional proofreaders with background information (e.g. skills areas, preferences and charges), to help students make informed choices in this respect.
These proofreaders are not University employees and therefore the University is not liable for anything they do or fail to do, and makes no representations about the skills of individual proofreaders or the quality of their work. The University does not recommend one proofreader over another, and only ensures that any proofreader on the list has confirmed their familiarity with this guidance and agreed to abide by it.
Proofreading your own work
All students are encouraged to proofread their academic work, but there is no obligation to use a third-party proofreader. The University offers support for students wishing to develop proofreading skills through the University English Scheme and techniques for editing through The Skills Centre.
Finding a third-party proofreader
Students wishing to engage the services of a third-party proofreader must adhere to the University’s Guidelines on Third-party Proofreading.
Students are responsible for identifying a proofreader they wish to work with. Third-party proofreaders may be family members, fellow students, friends or professional proofreaders. It is the student's responsibility to ascertain that the proofreader is competent to provide the help requested.
It is very important that students contact potential proofreaders well in advance of deadlines, and that a clear agreement covering expectations relating to time and cost (as far as these can be estimated) is drawn up.
Written agreements and good communication
The student and the third-party proofreader need to agree the following points:
- Format - how will the work be delivered to the proofreader and how are they expected to identify errors
- Communications - when and how often will the proofreader and the student need to contact each other
- Dates and deadlines - when will the student deliver the text to the proofreader and when will it be returned with completed corrections and comments to the student
- Financial arrangements - fees for the work, arrangements for payment, the date payment is due, and any extra expenses to be borne by the student.
Students and proofreaders should keep careful note of all arrangements. Students must keep an original of all written work submitted for proofreading in order to be able to demonstrate that no part of the text's academic content has been changed or added to in the proofreading process.
Students are advised against engaging fellow students from the same course as proofreaders. This is because there is a risk either that one student might misappropriate the work of another, or there might be confusion over 'version control' where a student submits the wrong electronic file. This can result in academic misconduct cases for both students.
If you would still like to use a fellow student on your course as a proofreader, it is advisable that they proofread from a printed copy of your work.
Formats for comments and corrections
If the proofreader makes suggested changes electronically, they must use Track Changes in Word rather than direct (i.e. 'invisible') edits to a text. Students for their part must know how to use Track Changes and again be responsible for considering each suggested correction (rather than simply 'accepting all').
Ownership of corrections
Proofreaders should not make the final decision on any changes to a student's text. The student is always ultimately responsible for the work submitted. On receiving work back from a proofreader, students must therefore allow themselves good time to consider each suggested correction very carefully in order to make the final decision themselves on whether to change the original text. It is very important that the student maintains ownership of corrections, however minor they may be.