I am an editor who specialises in student editing and proofreading. When I explain to people what I do for a living, there is one comment I often receive regarding student essays, dissertations and theses.

‘Isn’t that cheating?’

While it’s true that there is a very fine line to tread and opinions are often split, most higher education institutions agree that as long as certain rules are adhered to then the use of an editor, who proofreads or copy-edits only, is acceptable. After all, no one would suggest that using a spell checker was cheating.

So what level of student editing is acceptable? Well, an editor should never offer to rewrite or develop a student’s academic texts. They can identify spelling and grammatical errors; they can highlight sentences that are too long and complex, and explain why this is the case; they can identify errors in formatting or cross-referencing; and they can highlight inconsistencies. An editor can make helpful comments, such as: ‘I’m not sure what you mean here’ or ‘this is not flowing logically’, but they should leave the student to make the changes accordingly.

Editors are merely polishing a document and helping a student to effectively communicate their ideas. University examiners focus on the academic content of the student’s work and it helps if the work is comprehensible. They often don’t have the time to mark the work for errors in the use of English as well, so the student does not learn from their written language mistakes. The use of an editor, therefore, helps the student to learn more about the complexities of writing and allows their meaning to be conveyed and be assessed.

So it is cheating for a student to use an editor? I don’t think so, as long as the student and the editor are both ethical and clear about their boundaries, and the submitting academic institution is happy for its students to use these services.


AcEDemy’s student editing and proofreading services

Here are some important points regarding how I work – as an editor and/or proofreader – on student documents:

  • I use Word’s track changes function to mark up all changes, suggestions and comments on your document for you to then go through and accept/reject.
  • I only perform copy-editing and proofreading services for students (I do not stray into development).
  • I do not re-write or develop academic/student texts.
  • I will not comment on, change or correct your content.
  • I will improve your punctuation and grammar.
  • I will improve the readability of your text to ensure that what you have written is clear and precise.


Looking for a proofreader or editor?

I am Dr Angela Stokes, an experienced academic, proofreader and editor. If you would like more information about how I can help you with your project or more about the editing services that I provide, then please get in touch by emailing: info@acedemy.co.uk.



‘Isn’t that cheating?’ – student editing

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