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Proof-reading and Editing of Theses and Dissertations Guidelines

Category Research
Type Guideline
Approved by Council, 10 August 2010
Date Guideline Took Effect 1 September 2010
Last Approved Revision 25 August 2021
Sponsor Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Enterprise)
Responsible Officer Dean, Graduate Research School
Review Date 25 August 2026

Please note that compliance with University Guidelines is expected in normal circumstances, and any deviation from Guidelines – which should only be in exceptional circumstances – needs to be justifiable.

Purpose

To articulate expectations of supervisors, academic staff, research students, copy editors and proof-readers regarding editing, copy-editing and proofing of research theses and dissertations. These Guidelines should be read in conjunction with the Presentation of Theses regulations in the Examination and Assessment Regulations 2014.

Organisational Scope

These guidelines apply to all research students, supervisors and academic staff across the University.

Definitions

Editing
Providing guidance on substance and structure, language and illustrations, completeness and consistency. This guidance will mainly, but not necessarily exclusively, be provided by candidate’s academic supervisors.
Copy-editing
Checking written material to improve style, grammar, spelling and punctuation. It may include identifying and alerting the student to passages that lack clarity of exposition or are poorly written or constructed. A copy editor may suggest revisions to correct transition, wordiness, repetitions and style features inconsistent with theses within the discipline.
Proof-reading
The correction of minor text and formatting errors on a final or near-final draft.
Research students
Any student writing a thesis or dissertation.
Student Learning Development
A part of the Higher Education Development Centre which provides academic skills development support to students.

Content

  1. Research students are responsible for the originality and presentation of their work. They should make every effort to ensure that the written work they submit is of the highest possible standard. If necessary, this may entail additional practice and training as recommended by their supervisors.
  2. The University expects that the academic supervisors of research students will provide discipline-appropriate writing advice and guidance to their students. Supervisors are expected to edit student work and may choose to copy-edit and/or proof-read (see the definitions above). Supervisors should advise on the form, arrangement, focus and length of the thesis, as well as providing advice on the suitability of the language and illustrations used in the thesis. Rather than using extensive track changes, supervisors should use comments and margin notes. Supervisors are not expected to extensively proofread or make changes on student drafts.
  3. Staff in Student Learning Development (SLD) do not copy-edit or proof-read theses, but may be consulted with regards to more general advice on thesis structures. SLD staff can also assist students to develop self-editing skills; this may take the form of copy-editing and proof-reading a selected passage of a thesis to highlight common mistakes. SLD also offers writing workshops for thesis masters’ and doctoral candidates.
  4. Research students may use a third party as a copy editor and/or proof-reader at any stage of their study. The third party cannot provide editing advice (see the definition above), or make editorial revisions, which may breach academic integrity policy.
    1. The student should first discuss using copy editors and /or proof-readers with their primary supervisor.
    2. Students are free to choose whomever they wish to copy edit and proof-read their work. The University does not promote particular external services.
    3. Notwithstanding clause 4(d), the student bears the cost, if any, of copy editing and proof-reading services.
    4. The University’s Disability Information and Support Office provides a professional proof-reading service for certain qualifying students.
    5. The student must provide a copy of these guidelines to the copy editor and/or proof-reader, as well as ensuring they are familiar with the Australian Standards for Editing Practice (ASEP).
    6. The copy editor and/or proof-reader should be appropriately acknowledged in the thesis.
    7. If material for copy editing or proof-reading is supplied in electronic format, then the copy editor and/or proof-reader must clearly annotate with ‘tracking’ on and make liberal use of comment boxes where suggested corrections are made.

Related Policies, Procedures and Forms

Contact for Further Information

If you have any queries regarding the content of this policy, procedure or guideline or need further clarification, contact:

The Dean of the Graduate Research School
Email dean.grs@otago.ac.nz