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Proofreading Policy


Proofreading Policy

1. Introduction

The University aims to support students in developing the skills and knowledge to be able to succeed in their chosen discipline. It offers disciplinary- and university-level skills training and briefings regarding effective writing and referencing. In addition, students have access to further support through module and seminar tutors, project supervisors, and other specialist staff. English language support for non-native English speakers can be accessed centrally through the Centre for Applied Linguistics and the Student Careers and Skills departments and, in some cases, through academic departments. Students are strongly encouraged to take advantage of these services and individuals in order to produce high-quality pieces of work to be submitted for assessment.

The University understands that, in the course of producing a high-quality piece of work for assessment, students may wish to receive input from a third party prior to submission. As examples, proofreading might be undertaken by peers, flatmates, family members, dissertation/thesis supervisors and professional, proofreading companies. To some extent an IT programme such as Microsoft Word can be considered a proofreading service as it highlights what it considers to be spelling and/or grammatical errors.

This policy sets out what the University considers to be appropriate in regards to proofreading and what checks should be in place when proofreading is undertaken.

2. Expectation of pieces of work submitted for assessment

The University expects that any piece of work submitted for assessment, whether credit-bearing or not, is the student’s own work. Any assistance provided by a third party to proofread should not compromise this expectation or the authenticity of that piece of work. Regulation 11: Procedure to be Adopted in the Event of Suspected Cheating in a University Test defines “cheating” as:

“…an attempt to benefit oneself or another, by deceit or fraud.”

Students who submit pieces of work for assessment where proofreaders have acted in a way that compromises the authenticity of that work and who have acted outside of the limitations set out in this policy will be investigated further under Regulation 11. It is the student’s responsibility to inform their proofreader of the University’s proofreading policy and to check their own piece of work prior to submission to ensure that it is in line with University policy and expectations.

The Student should be expected to confirm whether or not their work has been proofread and if so, indicate that the proofreader(s) has acted within the guidelines set out in the University’s Proofreading Policy. The proposed text to be integrated into the assessment submission form is, as below:

“I have used a proofreader, paid or unpaid, to support the submission of this assignment" YES/NO

The University expects all proofreaders to comply with its policy in this area. By ticking 'yes', you confirm that the proofreader was made aware of and has complied with the University's proofreading policy”

3. Acceptable practices by proofreaders

It is important to note that if a student chooses to engage with a proofreader the University considers this exercise to be part of the learning experience. Proofreading should initially be undertaken by students themselves – the identification of one’s own errors and inconsistencies is a valuable learning experience. Third-party proofreaders are not expected to actively amend existing, or create new, content in draft work; instead they should support the student by identifying errors and/or making suggestions relating to – but not creating – content. The University considers the role of the proofreader is more akin to that of a mentor rather than a content producer or editor of the work.

Any third party reviewing work should be familiar with this policy and agree to operate within its expectations. It is the student’s responsibility to ensure that the proofreader is aware of the policy and no proofreading should be undertaken if the individual concerned does not agree to align their practice with the conditions detailed below. At the point of submission, students will be expected to declare whether or not they have had their work proofread and if so, indicate that the proofreader has worked within the Policy’s restrictions (set out below).

The University considers it acceptable for proofreaders to identify, but not make corrections to:

  • common typographical, spelling or punctuation errors;
  • formatting and layout errors and inconsistencies such as page numbers, line spacing, font size, headers and footers;
  • grammatical and syntactical errors and anomalies;
  • lexical repetition or omissions;sections of text where the meaning is ambiguous;minor formatting errors in referencing (for consistency and order);
  • errors in the labelling of diagrams, charts and figures.

The University does not consider it acceptable practice for proofreaders to amend existing content – whether through addition or reduction and, in particular, it prohibits proofreaders to:

  • Rewrite content where meaning is ambiguous;
  • Add to existing content;
  • Alter argument or logic where faulty;Re-arrange or re-order sentences to enhance structure or argument;
  • Implement or alter a referencing system or add to references;
  • Check or correct facts, data calculations, formulae or equations;
  • Translate text drafted by students, noting that this does not prohibit translation of source material as long as it is properly referenced.

4. Exceptions

In some disciplines and for particular pieces of assessment it may not be appropriate for any proofreading to take place e.g. where correct grammar is part of the assessment criteria. Where it is inappropriate for students to have their work reviewed, the Department should make students aware of this in guidance and in advance of students undertaking the assessment.

In addition, the University considers there to be a small number of exceptions in regards to the expectations set out in Section 3 of the Policy. These are detailed below:

Project/ Dissertation and PGR supervisors

The intention of this policy is not to prohibit or restrict good supervisory practice in regards to dissertation/ project supervision or the supervision of PGR students. In such cases, staff are bound by professional codes of conduct and whilst primarily their role is to support students in producing strong academic content they may feel that they can best do that through actively annotating drafts and highlighting/correcting errors that would be prohibited in other contexts. Students and supervisors should ensure that both parties are clear regarding to what level proofreading will be undertaken and with what frequency.


Disabled students whose disability means that they may need proofreading support that would exceed the limitations set out in this policy should liaise with their personal tutor and the Student Support department. Regardless of the form in which further support is provided, the content of the work submitted for assessment should be exclusively the student’s.

Collaborative assignments

The University acknowledges that a number of departments and modules require students to work closely to produce a collaborative piece of work for assessment. The content for these assignments will necessitate a process of drafting and re-drafting of content by a number of different members of the team. This process is a key part of the learning experience. In these cases, students may actively edit content of other students within the Group although it is expected that, collectively, the group is bound by the expectations set out in this policy in respect to engaging with further third parties.

This exception only applies to those pieces of work that are explicitly assessed as part of a group exercise. No form of collusion should take place regarding standard individual pieces of work and when detected, such cases may be subject to referral under the processes outlined in Regulation 11.