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New academic honesty procedures to impose strict standards on proofreading and editing

Siobhan Ryan and Subeta Vimalarajah report

Students at the law library Students at the law library

Under proposed academic honesty procedures, all proofreading and editing assistance on assessments will need to be acknowledged, including stating whether the person assisting has current or former academic expertise related to the topic of the assessment.

Unit coordinators will also be given power to determine whether students are permitted to use editors or proofreaders in the preparation of written assignments. If students are not to use proofreaders or editors, this must be included in the unit outline.

A draft proposal put forward to the Senior Executive Group (Education Committee) on July 11 required editors to be given a copy of, and abide by, the Australian Standards for Editing Practice (ASEP) 2013, and students to consult with their unit coordinator prior to using an editor or proofreader.

SUPRA President Tom Greenwell raised concerns about this initial draft, resulting in a revision of the relevant section prior to the July 20 meeting of the Academic Standards and Policy Committee (ASPC).

“No amount of guidelines will change the culture of the University and students will still collaborate because for the most part that’s why they’re here, despite management’s attempt to corporatise and homogenise research,” said Greenwell.

The revised procedures still require editors to use the ASEP, but no longer mandate they be given a copy. Students no longer need to consult with a unit coordinator prior to using an editor or proofreader.

SRC caseworker Sharon Maher was concerned the changes would increase the SRC’s workload. “Removing the ability of a student to seek assistance is ironically going to force students to be covert in their assessment techniques,” she said.

“An alternative possibility is that this guidance facilitates collaboration and the discussion of ideas by removing ambiguity as to acceptable practice and the acknowledgement of assistance,” said Academic Board chair Anthony Masters.

Students will be made aware of the new standards through a compulsory academic honesty module and the “University will also work through other communication channels,” a spokesperson confirmed.

The procedures are due to be discussed in the upcoming meeting of the Academic Board on August 17, and are therefore subject to change.