Are students allowed to use copyediting services?
This is an extract from our FAQs:
Is it legal for me to have my seminar paper or Bachelor thesis copyedited? Am I allowed to have my Master’s thesis or doctoral dissertation proof-read? Is it all right for undergraduates and postgraduates to avail themselves of other editorial services that are offered, and is this ethically right?
We only take on commissions if we are sure that they comply with the relevant legislation. Nothing that we do is unlawful or prohibited. It would not be in our interest, or in the interest of our customers. Our own ethical standards are in fact even more stringent than the legal requirements.
What this means in practice is: if a request conflicts with our basic principles or the law, we refuse to take the order. You need therefore have no qualms about using our services, whether you are studying for a first degree or a PhD. In the most serious of cases, we would point your error of judgement out to you, enabling you to step back from the situation.
If in doubt, ask!
We nevertheless recommend that, whether you are an undergraduate or studying for a doctorate, you find out for yourself from your exam regulations or your examiners whether and to what precise extent external support is permissible in producing work that counts towards your grade. All examination boards demand that what the candidates submit will be their own work. Many faculties and examiners also require an affidavit affirming the authorship of the final paper.
Unfortunately, there is in most cases no clear definition as to what precisely constitutes one's own work. Consequently, we recommend in case of doubt contacting your exam board to make enquiries. Everyone agrees that the tasks of printing and binding can be given to outside services. It is in most cases entirely allowable for others to ensure the format is correct and to proof-read the work. The exceptions would be if you were studying text design itself, or if you were trying to use the plagiarism test results in an attempt to get around plagiarism being detected.
Most examiners would see nothing wrong in your giving your seminar paper to a fellow student or a professional copyeditor before handing it in, so that they can correct errors in the spelling, grammar and style. Even where linguistic studies are concerned — as in the case of foreign languages — a professional proof-reading is frequently recommended by the tutors. Finally, it is completely in order to engage coaching services offering you tips on writing skills and time management, provided that you remain the sole author of all content relevant to the assessment of your examination-level work.
Definitely not admissible: plagiarism and academic ghostwriting
Conversely, the ethical and legal borderline is definitely crossed if you cannot be said to be the author of the content or language of the work to be assessed. This applies to instances of plagiarism, as previously mentioned — if, either verbatim or by rephrasing the sense of the words, you have lifted content from other sources without acknowledging them. At the same time, you should dispense with the services of so-called academic ghostwriters who promise to prepare the final paper for you either wholly or in part.
Both plagiarism and the ‘delivery’ of services for the completion of graded pieces with the help of academic ghostwriters not only contravene the whole system of exam board regulations, but are also against the law. Whoever makes a false declaration in a signed affidavit regarding the authorship of a final paper, can be liable, according to § 156 of the German Penal Code to receive a fine or up to three year's imprisonment. An accomplice, i.e. a ghostwriter who took on the commission, can also be prosecuted under § 27 of the Penal Code. In addition, a plagiarist is contravening copyright law.
Since we offer no academic ghostwriting, and pay strict attention in all our proof-reading and optimization assignments to the legal and ethically acceptable boundaries, you can engage our services with complete confidence. If you have any doubts about it, you should seek additional information from your university. Then you will have made doubly sure of the facts.