Ethics of academic proofreading

Stressed Student biting a pencil worrying about academic proofreading ethicsSome universities, academics and students, may feel that there is an issue with academic proofreading ethics. They may feel that because another person has changed the work, it is no longer the genuine product of its author. However, if you take this argument to its logical conclusion, no book on the market would be the genuine work of its author either. This is because experts proofread and edit every book before it goes to print.

What are the circumstances around using academic proofreading?

Some people have genuine problems with putting their ideas down on paper. They struggle with structuring essays or other assignments, and with spelling and grammar. This can be for a variety of reasons. For example, having English as a second language, or having dyslexia, dyspraxia, ADHD, physical disabilities, or many other complications. Universities themselves often provide help and tuition, or have their own in-house proofreading services. This is university approved, so is it really any different when you use an external proofreader or editor?

Students may have personal tutors or assistants who are able to take dictations of their ideas. These people may offer support to put essays together well. Again, universities themselves often offer or approve such help. Some people employ their own personal tutors to assist them with these things. Often there is sadly just not enough help within the university, or students may not be able to access it. Universities may not provide enough advice on how to write and structure essays academically. This is not a skill we are born with so we need to learn this from somewhere.

Don’t get left behind…

This leaves students stuck in the lower marks even though they have compelling cases to put forward. Say a student has brilliant ideas but can’t put these down on paper in the correct form. That can be for a variety of reasons. Is this really a question of academic proofreading ethics? Is using the services of an academic proofreader, editor or writer any different to any of the aforementioned ways of getting help? If you need help with your academic work for any of the reasons I have mentioned, don’t hesitate to get in touch today.

But is it still the client’s own work?

Here at, I always take as much of the students’ own ideas, notes and workings as possible before correcting or undertaking any assignment for them. In terms of academic proofreading ethics, It is then as much their own work as it’s possible to be under the circumstances. All of the work I provide, I offer as guidance, and it’s absolutely up to the student or academic if they choose to use it or not once they have purchased it.

So, for example, as soon as the client pays for the work, it becomes their property, to do with as they will. They may choose to use it solely as a template for how to structure an essay and argument correctly.

What about Plagiarism?

Plagiarism is the direct copying of another person’s work, from a book, essay, article, paper or anywhere else. If you write an essay and use published sources, you must properly reference, and verbatim quotes are forbidden unless marked clearly as quotes. But how easy is it to avoid plagiarism?

Sometimes it’s impossible to avoid duplicating sentences where ideas are very similar. Take for example a sentence such as, “The Children Act (1989) was drawn up to safeguard the well-being of children”. Out of thousands of essays and books which mention this act, it’s likely that a sentence with the same wording will come up by chance. This is accidental and it’s unlikely that a university would flag it up.

Plagiarism Engines

Universities have sophisticated software that searches for plagiarism across thousands of platforms, including previous students’ essays and other essays. Such a generic sentence as the one above, would be unlikely to cause a problem for the student on its own. It’s only if the plagiarism engine detected several sentences that are the same as published work, that a query would be made.

Some people may worry that academic proofreading ethics may come into play here. A proofreader or editor may add some plagiarised content to their document, for example. Certainly for my services, I offer a guarantee of no plagiarism. I write everything in original wording, even where ideas are very similar. Though of course in instances such as the above sentence nobody can guarantee that the exact wording has not been used elsewhere. But remember, it’s mainly large chunks and repeating instances of plagiarism that universities flag up, and there is no need to be concerned about this if a piece of work is written from scratch.

Is a human better than a machine?

Is it just a case of getting someone to correct your work for grammar and spelling mistakes? Then using a professional academic proofreader isn’t a moral issue at all, in my opinion. After all, nobody thinks twice about using a spellchecker or online platforms which check grammar. With an academic proofreader, you can guarantee your work will be presented in language as authentic as possible. That’s something online and machine checkers cannot do. Although machine checkers are growing more and more sophisticated, I’ve still to come across one that can take in all the nuances of English Grammar and spelling. It is worrying when people rely on machines to check the grammar of a language that entirely originates from the human mind. It’s a language that comes from human thoughts, perceptions, human voices, and human hands.

More problems with machine checkers

Try plugging some Dylan Thomas (for those who don’t know, an incredibly famous Welsh poet) into a machine checker and see how many errors it flags up. Although essays are not “creative writing” as such, they are often creative in their arguments and paragraph structure. Machine checkers seem to hate the passive voice, which has a very definite place in academic writing. (e.g. This argument was extrapolated by Hines, Jones and Gillet (2003)). All in all, I would never rely on a machine checker to correct my work. I would not recommend that students or academics do so either, especially regarding grammar. If you do use one, please make sure you’re using the correct version of English for the country you’re in.

These days AI can write entire essays for you. Now that, I would say IS cheating if you submit it as your own work. You’ve put none of your own ideas in it at all. Also nobody has laboured over it apart from the programmers. Correct me if I’m wrong though! Feel free to let me know your opinions in the comments.

How Can I Get Someone to Proofread My Document?

It’s as easy as going to the contact page and sending me a message! I’ll be happy to help you with your academic assignment.