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Proof-reading of Theses Guidelines

Category Research
Type Guideline
Approved by Council, 10 August 2010
Date Guideline Took Effect 1 September 2010
Last Approved Revision
Sponsor Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Enterprise)
Responsible Officer Dean, Graduate Research School
Review Date 1 August 2015

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.


The purpose of these Guidelines is to codify the use of proof-readers by thesis students, and to define the scope and limitations of a proof-reader’s role in this context.

Organisational Scope

These guidelines apply across the University.



For the purposes of these guidelines, proof-reading is defined as the correction of errors in spelling, punctuation, grammar and sentence construction, referencing, and idiomatic usage. Proof-reading may include identifying and alerting the candidate to passages that lack clarity of exposition or are poorly written or constructed.


Thesis masters’ and doctoral candidates may use a third party as a proof-reader at any stage during their candidature but they should discuss this with their primary supervisor and provide the proof-reader with a copy of these guidelines before the proof-reader commences work. The proof-reader may or may not be a professional proof-reader (see Notes below).

(a) Third-party intervention must be restricted to proof-reading assistance only. Third parties may not edit a thesis. The University expects that editorial advice (see Appendix), which includes corrections to structure and style, will mainly, but not necessarily exclusively, be provided by candidates’ academic supervisors.

(b) The candidate bears the cost, if any, of proof-reading services.

(c) The proof-reader should be appropriately acknowledged in the thesis.

(d) If material for proof-reading is supplied in electronic format then the proof-reader must clearly annotate with ‘tracking’ on and make liberal use of comment boxes where suggested corrections are made.

(e) Candidates are ultimately responsible for writing quality and thesis presentation, and should make every effort to ensure that the written work that they submit is of the highest possible standard. If necessary this may entail additional practice and training as recommended by their supervisors.


(i) Candidates are free to choose whomever they wish to proof-read their work.

(ii) The University’s Disability Information and Support Office provides a professional proof-reading service for certain qualifying candidates.

(iii) The Learning Advisors in the Student Learning Centre do not proof-read theses but may be consulted with regards to more general advice on thesis structures. Learning advisors can also assist students to develop self-editing skills; this may take the form of proof-reading a selected passage of a thesis together to highlight common mistakes.

The Student Learning Centre also offers writing workshops for thesis masters’ and doctoral candidates.

Appendix: Editorial Advice

The University expects that the academic supervisors of thesis masters’ and doctoral candidates will provide discipline-appropriate editorial advice to their candidates. This type of advice is covered in Standards C, D and E of the Australian Standards for Editing Practice (ASEP) which supervisors are encouraged to become familiar with:

  • Substance and Structure (Standard C). Supervisors should advise on the form, arrangement, focus and length of the thesis. This includes: paragraphing; referencing; tables; figures; and headings.
  • Language and Illustrations (Standard D). Supervisors should advise on the suitability of the language and illustrations used in the thesis. This includes: principles of clear language; avoidance of ambiguity, repetition and verbosity; use of clear and logical connections between phrases, clauses, sentences, paragraphs and sections; conventions of grammar and syntax in written English; conventions of appropriate spelling and punctuation; consistency of tone; and principles of presenting information in visual form (tables and figures).
  • Completeness and Consistency (Standard E). Supervisors should advise on whether the elements within the thesis are complete and consistent. This includes: title page; table of contents; acknowledgements; abstract; appendices; list of references; cross-references; tables; illustrations; captions; notes; page numbers; margins; headers; and footers.

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