Computer Science Policy on Use of Proof-readers and Editors

This policy is intended to clarify the extent to which students may obtain assistance from proof-readers and editors in preparing theses and project reports for graduate programmes in Computer Science at VUW. The policy applies to all thesis and project courses, including PhD, MSc, and projects for BSc (Hons), BIT, MCompSci and GradDipSc.

Theses and project reports are intended to be substantial pieces of scholarly writing; good presentation, including organisation and grammar, are considered to be important. The project supervisor has a primary role in advising students on presentation of such documents. However, many students will seek assistance from various other people, including other students, friends, family members and flat-mates. This is acceptable, as long as the contribution of such people is confined to assisting with the presentation of the work, not with the content of the work. For example, it would be acceptable for a proof-reader to note spelling errors, or suggest that certain sentences or paragraphs be rewritten or rearranged to aid readability, or suggest that an example or diagram might help to convey the ideas in a particular section. The final wording and essential ideas, however, must still be those of the student.

In some cases, particularly with students for whom English is a second language, it may be appropriate to enlist the assistance of an editor who may suggest more substantial changes to the text. In this case, the same principles should apply. The editor should be concerned only with the presentation, not with the content, and should ideally make some attempt to explain the changes proposed so as to help the student to subsequently write better English.

In all cases, the student should advise their supervisor of anyone who assists them with proof-reading or editing, and any substantial assistance should be mentioned in the Acknowledgements section of the document. If there is any doubt as to the appropriateness of the assistance proposed or received, the matter should be referred to the Thesis Coordinator (or Programme Director if the Thesis Coordinator is otherwise involved, e.g. as supervisor).