Is Hiring a Professional Proofreader Cheating?


Many international students in the United Kingdom are looking to professional proofreaders to help them with their college papers and essays. According to Claire Shaw of The Guardian, this has raised an unanswered set of questions about the educational system in Great Britian in regards to proofreading, editing, and plagiarism.

Many international students do not feel as though they are getting the help they need from their British universities, says Shaw. Writing a college paper can be a daunting task to a native English speaker, let alone a non-native speaker. Shaw quotes one professional proofreader as saying:

"‘Most students who ask me for a quotation are from outside the UK and English is their second language,' says Louise Harnby, who has been a professional proofreader since 2005. ‘Many of them simply don't have the access to sufficient language-support services at their university.'"

The question has arisen as to whether or not students using the services of a proofreader are considered to be cheating. Some argue that it is not cheating, but merely helping those with weak English skills get a helping hand.

Others contend that it is cheating because it gives those students an unfair advantage over their classmates. They also state that it is a deception because students are handing in what was at least partly someone else's work as their own, reports Shaw. Still others wonder where the line will be drawn when a proofreader's work changes the original content of the student's paper.

Proofreading and paper writing websites further blur the issue. They claim to be able to help improve grades and in some cases, write the student's paper for them, for a price, claims Shaw. It is hard for teachers to catch students who are having papers written for them because plagiarism catching programs do not pick up on paid for papers. Depending on the the requirements needed for the piece, pupils pay between £5.45-19.35 per 1,000 words ($10-35) for a paper less than 8,000 words in length.

According to Shaw's article, many universities do not have rules or policies in place to define cheating or how far proof reading services can go for their students. Some call for a national standard so that students know what they can and cannot do. In the United States, students can get outside help if they let the teacher know where they got it. In Australia, a national set of standards has been set up so students know just how far they can go.

Turnitin is hosting the second Annual Plagiarism Education Week April 21-25, reports The point of the conference is to address the above issues and others pertaining to plagiarism from the viewpoint of students and teachers.

04 21, 2014
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