Policies and procedures

Policy No.
Teaching And Learning
Authoring Organisational Unit
Graduate Research School - Central Unit
Date Approved
Next Review Date
Approving Body
Academic Council

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The University of Western Australia

University Policy on: Use of Editorial Assistance by Students

Purpose of the policy and summary of issues it addresses:

This policy outlines the general principles that govern the use of editorial assistance by students. The policy describes the limits on the use of editorial assistance by students and the difference in those limits with respect to tasks related to coursework and those related to research.

There is no distinction in this policy between editorial assistance which is paid and that which is not paid.


In this policy,

"editorial assistance" is detailed correction of problems of writing style and mechanical accuracy. Types of editorial assistance include, but are not limited to: proof-reading; line editing; and detailed correcting or advising on language, style or substance of a specific piece of work;

"editorial intervention" is the act of requiring, as opposed to advising, a person to make specific editorial changes on a piece of work;

"ghost writing" is unattributed authoring in the form of re-writing or writing on behalf of another person; and

"the University" is The University of Western Australia.

Note: Giving general advice or guidelines about style and accuracy without marking up the work either electronically or on paper, is not editing and does not constitute giving editorial assistance.

Policy statement:

1 The University's commitment to students developing strong communication skills

1.1 The University is committed to ensuring that students are encouraged and facilitated to develop the ability and desire to communicate in English clearly, concisely and logically.

1.2 The University recognises -

  • that acquiring expertise in writing and editing is an important professional development for students that must be monitored and assessed; and
  • that use of editorial assistance by students can circumvent the need for them to develop their own skills and can mask their true levels of expertise.

2 Use of editorial assistance

2.1 Except as otherwise set out in this policy the University does not permit students to use editorial assistance.


Coversheets and forms for coursework assignments, thesis submission forms and other documents relating to submission of written work for assessment must make clear that the requirement for the work to be the student's own applies to language and style as well as content, and that editorial assistance is not permitted except as outlined in this policy.

3 Exceptions to the prohibition of the use of editorial assistance

3.1 The University recognises that exceptions to the prohibition of the use of editorial assistance apply in some situations.

3.2 The situations in which exceptions to the prohibition of the use of editorial assistance apply are limited to those outlined in this policy.

3.3 Where editorial assistance is permitted -

  • the intent of the editorial assistance must be to develop the skills of the student;
  • editorial intervention is not permitted; and
  • ghost writing is not permitted.

3.4 Where editorial assistance is permitted and has been accepted by a student, the student must properly and clearly acknowledge this in the work.

4 Use of editorial assistance in a coursework unit

4.1 The University permits students to use editorial assistance, subject to procedural rules, in a particular unit at the discretion of the Unit Coordinator.


The permission to use editorial assistance, and the limits to this permission, must be explicit in the Unit Outline.

The Unit Outline must also make clear that any such permission is confined to that particular unit.

5 Use of editorial assistance in the preparation of theses for higher degrees by research

5.1 Higher degree by research students may, with the permission of their Coordinating Supervisor and subject to clauses 5.2 to 5.5 inclusive, accept editorial assistance in the preparation of their theses for examination.

5.2 The editorial assistance, paid or unpaid, must be restricted to Standard D, Language and Illustrations, and Standard E, completeness and consistency, as outlined in the Australian Standards for Editing Practice.

5.3 Use of paid editorial assistance must be in accordance with the relevant policy of the National Council of Deans and Directors of Graduate Studies.

Note: Refer to The editing of Research Theses by Professional Editors.

5.4 Subject to 4, higher degree by research students are not permitted to use editorial assistance in the preparation of assignments for coursework units.

5.5 Subject to 4, students engaged in the preparation of theses or dissertations other than for Higher Degrees by Research (e.g. for Honours, Graduate Diplomas and Master by Coursework and Dissertation) are not permitted to use editorial assistance.

6 Use of editorial assistance as developmental feedback

6.1 Provision of editorial assistance as developmental feedback by UWA staff whose role it is to provide such feedback, for example relevant academic staff, Learning Skills Advisors and Graduate Education Officers, is acceptable.

7 Provision of editorial assistance

7.1 Editorial assistance must be provided as developmental feedback and must not be given as editorial intervention or ghost writing.

7.2 In every case where editorial assistance has been provided -

  • consequent revisions of the work must be undertaken by the student and not by the provider or another party;
  • the student must acknowledge this assistance properly and clearly in the work.

7.3 Editorial assistance can be provided electronically, but not in the form of Track Change or similar amendments that can be accepted without the need for the student to evaluate and act on the suggestions.

Related forms: (Link)

Related Policies or legislation:

Strategic Plan: Strategic Plan

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