Policies on Proofreading Theses (NZ Universities)

Students are sometimes hesitant to employ a proof-reader to check their thesis or dissertation. I have looked through the policies of some of the universities in New Zealand to demonstrate that the universities themselves expect and even encourage students to get people other than themselves to proofread their work.

Each university has a slightly different policy about third party proof-readers. The following are quotes from some of their policy documents, or from their web pages. Further details as to what proofreaders can and can’t do are found in the actual policy documents; these are cited in the reference section at the bottom of this page.

University of Waikato

“This document states that thesis masters’ and doctoral candidates may use a proof-reader at any stage during their candidature, but they should discuss this with their chief supervisor and provide the proof‐reader with a copy of these guidelines before the proof‐reader commences work.” (1)

University of Auckland

“The University of Auckland recognises that many masters and doctoral candidates have their work scrutinised by third parties, including professional editors. Such third parties must make no contribution to the intellectual content of the thesis or dissertation or be involved in rewriting text; their role is confined to advice on changes, as provided for in the Guidelines specified below. They may work on a printed or electronic version of the thesis or dissertation. If they work on an electronic version, the third party must make any comments using electronic tracking, mark-ups or comments.” (2)

Auckland University of Technology

“This document acknowledges the right of AUT’s postgraduate students to contract a proofreader to read and correct a thesis or dissertation before it is examined.” (3)

Victoria University of Wellington

“The general principle for other advisors is that they may proof-read and provide generic advice, but may not edit the thesis. The distinction between proof-reading and editing is set out in the guidelines in the Appendix.” (4,5)

University of Otago

“Thesis masters’ and doctoral candidates may use a third party as a proof-reader at any stage during their candidature but they should discuss this with their primary supervisor and provide the proof-reader with a copy of these guidelines before the proof-reader commences work. The proof-reader may or may not be a professional proof-reader (see Notes below).” (6)

Massey University

School of Engineering and Advanced Technology (SEAT)

“The Student Learning Centre offers assistance to postgraduate students who require additional help with writing, reading, listening and speaking, particularly if English is your second language, although this service does not include proof-reading of theses, which you will have to arrange for yourself”. (7)

University of Canterbury, Christchurch

“Are you looking for someone to professionally proof-read your academic writing? Proof-readers can correct errors in spelling, punctuation, grammar and syntax. They can point out unclear areas of writing and thinking but should not make significant suggestions for the argument or make substantial changes to your work. Please keep pre-proofed copies of your work for comparison should questions arise over plagiarism. You can find a local proof-reader by searching under proof-reading in the Yellow Pages.” (8)

Some NZ universities don’t encourage ‘outsiders’ to proofread their students’ work, for example, Lincoln University.

Lincoln University, Christchurch

“However, in some circumstances, you and your supervisor will agree to the use of an editor for copy editing of the thesis… In brief, this policy states that any editing must be limited to copy editing (that is, ‘minor’ errors…); your supervisor must give permission; the editor must be approved by Lincoln University.” (9)


  1. Guidelines for Proof-reading of Theses. 2010. Available from: http://www.waikato.ac.nz/sasd/postgraduate/forms/Guidelines%20for%20Proof-reading%20of%20Theses.pdf
  2. Third Party Editing and Proofreading of Theses and Dissertations. 2013. Available from: https://cdn.auckland.ac.nz/assets/central/for/current-students/postgraduate-students/documents/policies-guidelines-forms/doctoral-policies-guidelines/third-party-editing-and-proofreading-of-theses-and-dissertations.pdf
  3. Guidelines for the proofreading of postgraduate theses and dissertations at AUT. 2013. Available from: http://www.aut.ac.nz/__data/assets/pdf_file/0003/380127/proofreading-guidelines-final-version.pdf
  4. Proof-Reading and Editorial Advice Policy. 2011. Available from: http://www.victoria.ac.nz/documents/policy/research-policy/proof-reading-and-editorial-advice-policy.pdf
  5. Appendix A: Guidelines to Accompany the Proof-Reading and Editorial Advice Policy. 2011. Available from: http://www.victoria.ac.nz/documents/policy/academic/appendix-a-proof-reading-and-editorial-advice-policy.pdf
  6. Proof-reading of Theses Guidelines. 2010. Available from: http://www.otago.ac.nz/administration/policies/otago011276.html
  7. Handbook for Postgraduate Students. 2009. Available from: http://me.ac.nz/pghandbook/PGHandbook.pdf
  8. English Language Support: Proof-reading. Available from: http://www.canterbury.ac.nz/support/english-language.shtml
  9. Writing, revising and editing your Lincoln University thesis. Available from: http://library.lincoln.ac.nz/Research/Writing-your-research/-Revising-and-editing-your-thesis/

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