Third Party Editing and Proofreading of Theses and Dissertations Guidelines


Postgraduate candidates enrolled at the University whose degree includes a thesis or dissertation.


To clarify the contribution permitted by third parties, including professional editors, to theses and dissertations being prepared by postgraduate candidates in order to fulfil the requirements of the postgraduate degree they are enrolled in at the University.


  • Background
  • Candidate’s responsibilities
  • Supervisor’s responsibilities
  • Third party editing permitted
    • Content
    • Format
    • Tracked changes/comments
  • Restrictions on third party editing
  • PReSS account allowance (doctoral candidates only)
  • Alternative sources of help



  • The University recognises that many masters and doctoral candidates have their work scrutinised by third parties, including professional editors. Whether to use the services of a professional editor is at the discretion of each candidate, but the following guidelines must be adhered to

Candidate’s responsibilities

  • Candidates must ensure that this assistance does not endanger the academic integrity and originality of the work. The University views cheating – including ‘submitting without acknowledgement work to which others have contributed’ – as a serious academic offence. See: Student Academic Conduct Statute
  • It is the candidate’s responsibility to convey the guidelines to third parties (including any professional editor) engaged in checking any version of the thesis or dissertation
  • Candidates must acknowledge in their thesis or dissertation any contribution by a third party

Supervisor’s responsibilities

  • The intervention of a third party, in particular a professional editor, does not absolve the supervisor(s) from the normal advisory duties connected with the production of the intellectual content and text of the thesis or dissertation

Third party editing permitted


  • Third parties (including professional editors) may scrutinise and offer advice on the following aspects of theses or dissertations:
    • Clarity
      • avoiding ambiguity, repetition and verbosity
      • the use of punctuation to ensure clarity of meaning and ease of reading
    • Grammar and usage
      • the conventions of grammar and syntax in written English
      • the expression of numbers, dates, percentages, measurements and statistical data
      • the use of italics, capitalisation, hyphenation, symbols and shortened forms
      • the display of lists and quotations
    • Spelling and punctuation
      • spelling and punctuation (including British and American uses)
    • Illustrations and tables
      • the position of tables and illustrations in the thesis
      • the clarity, grammar, spelling and punctuation of the text in illustrations and tables
    • Text
      • completeness and internal consistency in references (including citations, bibliography, list of references, endnotes or footnotes, and cross-references)
      • consistency in page numbers, headers and footers


  • Third parties may work on a printed or electronic version of the thesis or dissertation

Tracked changes/comments

Except in cases of third party editing approved under the posthumous award procedures:

  • Suggested amendments must be indicated by comment tools, rather than tracked changes
  • The thesis/dissertation candidate must keep a copy of the draft that contains the third party’s comments. Any comments made on the draft must be fully considered by the candidate who must decide which advice to accept
  • The candidate must make the changes and produce the final text

Restrictions on third party editing

  • Third parties must not write or rewrite any part of the thesis or dissertation, or perform numerical calculations included in the thesis or dissertation
  • Third parties must make no contribution to the intellectual content of the thesis or dissertation; their role is confined to advice on changes, as specified in the section above on third party editing permitted
  • Third parties may not advise on or make corrections to the structure of the thesis, though they may draw any such problems to the candidate’s attention

PReSS account allowance (doctoral candidates only)

  • In exceptional circumstances, doctoral candidates may seek the approval of the Dean of Graduate Studies to spend up to $1000 of PReSS account funding to cover third party editing of the final draft of their thesis. See: PReSS Account Guidelines

Alternative sources of help

  • Doctoral Skills Programme, available to all doctoral candidates, provides online resources and workshops to assist with the writing and formatting of theses
  • Libraries and Learning Services – English Language Enrichment (ELE) has print and electronic resources for English language development. Individual appointments with language advisers are also available
  • The Academic Integrity Course, taken by all students starting a new programme at the University, is an online course designed to increase student knowledge of academic integrity, university rules relating to academic conduct, and the identification and consequences of academic misconduct


The following definitions apply to this document:

Academic integrity means the ethical practices of the academic community, including honest execution of research and study and the acknowledgement of sources.

Postgraduate candidates are those candidates enrolled in any postgraduate degree at the University which includes a thesis or dissertation.

PReSS accounts are the Postgraduate Research Student Support (PReSS) accounts provided by the University to assist doctoral candidates with direct research costs for up to four years of equivalent full-time study.

Third parties are people you ask for help, other than your supervisors. Third parties may be fellow students, reading groups, friends, parents, Libraries and Learning Services, or professional editing services.

University means the University of Auckland and includes all subsidiaries.

Key relevant documents

Document management and control

Owner: Dean of Graduate Studies
Content manager: School of Graduate Studies
Approved by: Board of Graduate Studies
Date approved: March 2018
Review date: March 2019