Statement on editorial help for students' written work:
guidance for students, supervisors and examiners

This statement was approved by the Academic Board, July 2012


Any written work a student produces (for classes, seminars, examination scripts, dissertations, essays, computer programmes and MPhil/PhD theses) must be solely his/her own work1. Specifically, a student must not employ a "ghost writer" to write parts or all of the work, whether in draft or as a final version, on his/her behalf2 .


This guidance is for use when a student is considering whether to employ a third party such as a professional copy editing or proof reading company when producing work in draft or final version.


It also applies when a student seeks editorial help from other, non-professional third parties, such as fellow-students or friends.


It is not concerned with the regular and iterative interaction between student and tutor/supervisor(s) on draft versions of his/her work throughout the registration period. The student's tutor/supervisor is not regarded as a "third party" for this purpose.


For research students, further guidance is included in the Supervisor's Handbook produced by the Teaching and Learning Centre.


If a student contravenes this statement, this will be considered an assessment offence and investigated in accordance with the Regulations on assessment offences: plagiarism.


If the student chooses to employ a third party, it is his/her responsibility to give them a copy of this statement. When submitting work the student must acknowledge what form of contribution they have made, by stating for example, 'this thesis/essay/dissertation was copy edited for conventions of language, spelling and grammar by ABC Editing Ltd'.


A third party cannot be used:



to change the text of the work so as to clarify and/or develop the ideas and arguments;



 to reduce the length of the work so that it falls within the specified word limit;



to provide help with referencing;



to correct information within the work;



to change the ideas and arguments put forward within the work; and/or



to translate the work into English.


A third party can be used to offer advice on:



spelling and punctuation;



formatting and sorting footnotes and endnotes for consistency and order;



ensuring the work follows the conventions of grammar and syntax in written English;



shortening long sentences and editing long paragraphs;



changing passives and impersonal usages into actives;



improving the position of tables and illustrations and the clarity, grammar, spelling and punctuation of any text in or under tables and illustrations; and



ensuring consistency of page numbers, headers and footers.


The third party shall give advice by means of tracked changes on an electronic copy or handwritten annotations on a paper copy or other similar devices. The student must take responsibility for choosing what advice to accept, and must him/herself make the changes to the master copy of the work.

Except where the School's regulations might permit it to include the work of others e.g., Regulations for Research Degrees (paragraph 31.1) permit a thesis to include the work of others and individual programme regulations for taught students permit group work.
2 This does not preclude the use of a 'scribe' where verbatim dictation might be required for a student with a particular disability.