Dissertation Editing: Is it Ethical?

Using someone else’s work is plagiarism. There’s no grey area there. However, its definition is a source of heated debate among academics. Right now, we are focused on ethical issues relating to hiring a Dissertation Editing Help to review/polish your work.

The majority of universities permit you to hire a Dissertation Editing Service, but with the rise of black markets for writing (posing as editing services), you have to reevaluate what it means to hire a professional editor.

Turning your assignment over to Dissertation Editing Services constitutes plagiarism? Actually, no. As your teacher cannot disprove the originality of your writing, even if she suspects it is inauthentic. In other words, it isn’t exactly stealing. But this is not the student’s original work.

It does cast a finger of doubt on the entire field when ‘writing services’ masquerade as ‘proofreading and editing services. Are we justified in dismissing it altogether? Not at all!

A successful academic needs an editor, especially if they do not excel in communication or if they write in a second language. There is a problem when there is no regulation on how the term “editing” should be interpreted.

Let’s start with busting some myths about dissertation editing help here!

Myth 1:  Basic proofreading is the only thing an editor can ethically do for a dissertation.

Fact- Among the things an editor may not ethically do for a dissertation are write original content, develop original ideas, and perform research. As for beyond that, as they say, it’s up to you.

Essentially, a dissertation is designed to ensure that the candidate has become sufficiently knowledgeable about her chosen topic to contribute to the field of study in which her degree will be awarded.

Although she will need to be able to communicate her research to an audience effectively, most candidates won’t be evaluated on their writing ability, so editing that focuses on improving verbiage usage and conveying ideas simply and concisely will often be extremely helpful.

Myth 2: That’s all right then. Anything goes if editing is okay!

Fact- False. Any limitations set by the advisor or possible other parties-the department or university or other dissertation committee members-must be respected. When you get an adviser’s approval that line editing and reference work are fine, but rewriting the chapters isn’t, then that covers it.

In this case, a good Dissertation Editing Service should sign an agreement with the doctoral candidates to nail down the tasks that are acceptable for this kind of assignment by their academic institutions. 

So, where does editing become interference?

Guidelines have been established by universities (or institutions relevant to the field) to ensure that the distinction between editing and interference is as clear as possible. In short, intervention is the act of altering the meaning of something – in this case, an act that could potentially alter the logic of the research itself.

Editing and ghostwriting: A fine line!

The editor’s desire for a well-written thesis and good research can easily lead him to lose sight of the basics. As with all human tasks, editing is subjective. Maintaining your own biases as an editor is a matter of professionalism when you work on someone else’s research.

Nevertheless, ghostwriting exists. When a ghostwriter writes a text, they do so explicitly on behalf of the person they are writing for.

Although editing and ghostwriting are not the same, there is concern that if unregulated, substantive content editing (i.e., helping the student with the structure, organization, and core arguments) will soon become ghostwriting.

Now, where does one draw a line?

There is no uniform set of guidelines for dissertation and thesis editing in the United States, unlike in some countries’ editorial associations (such as those of Canada and Australia). Professional editors can typically contribute to a thesis or dissertation project in three key ways in most universities that have policies on the matter:

  • Correction of formatting issues by ensuring that the work adheres to university/department guidelines and by making sure that all references and bibliography entries follow the guidelines of the specified style sheet (APA, MLA, Chicago, Turban, etc.)
  • For those who are non-native English speakers as well as those who have English as a first language, editing language for clarity, correctness, and effectiveness is particularly important.
  • Offering questions and criticisms regarding argument and presentation, but without making direct changes to content or structure

Generally, it is considered unethical for an editor to do research on a student’s behalf or to make direct changes to a student’s thesis, dissertation, or other document submitted for a grade.

Is it possible to regulate the role of a thesis editor?

The answer is yes. It is generally recommended that universities (or other relevant institutions) establish guidelines for delineating between editing and interference. Furthermore, these lines are also drawn by editors (like ours) when they know when to draw them.

Keeping out of trouble!

Your thesis or dissertation submission package may require a letter from your professional editor. The doctoral committee is assured that language issues and citation problems will not hinder their work. It is smart to rope in Dissertation Editing Services that are willing to write a letter. It may be maintained under their ‘Terms and Policy’ page!

Ask if you are unsure!

It is a good idea to discuss your intention to have your dissertation edited with your doctoral advisor if professional dissertation editing is not a common practice among your fellow doctoral students. Professional editing of your thesis or dissertation should be considered, within the parameters outlined in this post. 

A good research paper incorporates your ideas presented most clearly and effectively- and that’s a sure recipe for success in academia!

The Bottom Line!

Editors working on dissertations and theses should feel confident that doing so is not inherently a violation of academic integrity so long as it’s done with appropriate limits in mind, and that they will do what they can to assist Ph.D. candidates as they near the end of their journey.

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