Swansea University

Proof Reading Policy

Proof Reading Policy

The purpose of this policy is to set out clearly the University’s position about proof reading in relation to course work (essays, reports, dissertations etc) that is being submitted for assessment. This policy sets out the requirements of any student that is utilising any form of proof reading service, regardless of whether this is formally contracted and paid for, or whether proof reading has been undertaken by a friend, colleague or family member.

The University does not offer or recommend the use of proof reading services.  Proof reading is considered to be the final stage of producing a piece of work and therefore where possible students should carry out their own proof reading.  However, it is recognised that some Colleges may permit proof reading. This policy aims to clarify the roles and responsibilities of Colleges, Schools and Students in relation to proof reading practices within the University.


Editing and proof reading are the essential final stages of the writing process.

Editing involves reviewing the content of the text to ensure that ideas and concepts are clearly and logically expressed and that the text is both meaningful and coherent.  Editing may be small scale or substantial in nature and can completely alter the content and meaning of the final work. Editing should be undertaken by the student, in conjunction with their academic supervisor.

Proof reading is defined as “the careful reading of a (yet to be finally submitted) document to detect any errors in spelling, punctuation, grammar, formatting and layout in the text”.  Proof reading does not involve:

  • Editing the text;
  • Rewriting elements of the work;
  • Correcting errors of referencing:
  • Altering the meaning or the content of the work;
  • Translating the work;
  • Offering advice about what to add or leave out of the work;
  • Checking or correcting facts, data, formulae or equations;
  • Asking another to write the work in total (this is commissioning and is academic misconduct).

Third-parties are persons other than the academic supervisor, marker or examiner who may proof read a student’s work in the sense defined above. Many students utilise the services of friends or family for the final proof reading of their work, whereas other students utilise professional proof reading companies. Where students make this request of a third party, they must be clear about the service being requested.

College responsibility

With respect to proof reading practices, Colleges and Schools are expected to determine whether their student should be allowed, or should not be allowed to submit their work to a third party for the purpose of proof reading. The policy should apply across a complete College or School and not be applied piecemeal to individual programmes.

Where students are studying programmes that share modules across Colleges and Schools, care should be taken to ensure that the student understands the specific requirements of the College or School where their modules are located.

Where College and Schools DO NOT allow proof reading

Colleges should be clear in their instructions to students. Students should be made aware that for certain subjects, the use of proof readers could result in their work being awarded a fail grade ( for example students studying translation, foreign language programmes or computer sciences). This is because the use of a proof reader would give the student an unfair advantage.

Where Colleges DO allow proof reading

The preferred mechanism for proof reading is for students to learn about and develop self-editing and proof reading skills themselves.  These are skills that enhance employability and develop student confidence in their own ability to write. Therefore all students should be strongly advised to proof read their own work.  Advice and assistance is available to students via the Centre for Academic Success.

Students should also be advised that any cost incurred is their own responsibility and that they must always take ownership of the final changes and the decision to either accept or reject suggestions.  The final submitted work must accurately reflect the students own effort.  The use of third-party services will not be accepted in mitigation of any deficiencies in the work. 

Colleges should be clear in their instructions to students. Students must be instructed that where they adopt the services of a proof reader, whether it is a friend, a family member, or a professional proof reading service, they must keep an evidence trail of their actions. This would include, but not be limited to;

  • The original email or written request.
  • An electronic copy of the work before proof reading has taken place. This would apply even if the original work is not written in English or Welsh.
  • An electronic copy of the work that has been proof read, where amendments are clearly delineated.
  • Any receipt or other evidence of payment for professional services.
  • Students must be prepared to provide this evidence upon request.
  • When submitting the work, the student should acknowledge whether that work has been proof read by another person and that the proof reader has acted within the guidelines set out in the University Proof Reading Policy. This may be included on the ‘front sheet’ attached to the submitted work.

What is acceptable

  • Identification and suggested changes related to surface level errors related to vocabulary, spelling, grammar, punctuation, capitalisation, abbreviations and the use of italics.
  • Suggestions relating to format, structure and use of paragraphs.
  • Identification of errors in labelling of diagrams, charts and figures.

The use of translation software

This should be actively discouraged. Students are expected to study through the English or Welsh language when in Swansea.

Academic Misconduct

Failure to adhere to the University Proof Reading Policy may result in an investigation in accordance with the Academic Misconduct Policy.

Written by: Informed through: Approved by: Review date:
Mary PagetDirector of Academic Integrity 1. Discussion with Directors of Learning and Teaching2. Discussion with the Centre for Academic Success3. Discussion with the Student Union Education Officer (2016-17) University Learning and Teaching Committee May 2018 May 2020

 Grateful thanks to the work of Dr Lizzie Tanguay for help in developing elements of this guidance.

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