Editing in this context has been defined as "the detailed and extensive correction of problems in writing style and of mechanical inaccuracy" (for example, "ghost writing") as opposed to providing general guidelines about problems with style and accuracy.
As early as possible in the candidature, the supervisor must assess the candidate's writing abilities. In the case of PhD candidates this must be an integral component of the confirmation process, which requires the candidate to provide a piece of written work. This should be of sufficient length to demonstrate writing proficiency and indicate the standard of the candidate's composition skills.
If the supervisor considers that further work is required in areas such as composition and grammar for the candidate to be successful in completing the PhD, the supervisor should then provide advice and assistance as to how an appropriate standard can be achieved. The supervisor needs to explain the level and extent of support the candidate can expect of them as supervisor. Such advice may include referral to the Learning, Language and Research Skills Services within Student Services. The supervisor should continue to monitor the candidate's progress in order to resolve any on-going difficulties.
Supervisors should advise students about structure, style, and general editing issues and should guide their candidates accordingly. It is appropriate for supervisors to undertake some editing tasks, but within limits. A thesis must express the candidate's voice. Writing is considered an important part of a higher degree by research, and any assistance with writing must be conducted as part of the overall learning process. Any additional assistance received by the candidate must be fully supported by continuous feedback from supervisors as part of the integral learning process. The integrity of the work relies on the thesis being demonstrably the candidate's work and must indicate that the candidate has the ability to write and argue with clarity.
Acquiring expertise in writing and editing is often seen as an important professional development for graduates. Graduate colleagues may be appropriate readers and editors of a thesis, and candidates should be encouraged to explore alternative avenues for assistance available from within their school and the wider University community.Editing of theses by professional editors must be in accordance with the relevant policy of the National Council of Deans and Directors of Graduate Studies, (consult The Editing of Research Theses by Professional Editors). In brief, the use of paid editorial assistance is acceptable provided that it is restricted to Standard D, Language and Illustrations and Standard E, Completeness and Consistency, as outlined in the Australian Standards for Editing Practice.