The University of Waterloo expects that graduate theses, regardless of subject area, will meet appropriate standards of clarity and coherence in written English (or in some cases, French or German). The student is primarily responsible for ensuring that the thesis is written in clear and correct language; the student’s supervisor and advisory committee (if applicable) also bear a weight of responsibility for providing guidance consistent with normal practice for the discipline.

It is expected that students, with input from their advisory committee, will be in charge of editing their own theses. In some circumstances, however, it may be determined that a professional editor should be employed.  “Professional editing” in this usage includes editing services by an outside party regardless of whether or not such services are paid for. Having a relative or friend edit one’s thesis, for example, even if no money changes hands, may constitute professional editing if the individual concerned has in the past received payment from other people for editing work. A supervisor may recommend that a student have their thesis edited, but may not require the student to do so.  Conversely, a supervisor can choose not to permit the use of a professional editor.

The following are the regulations and guidelines for the ethical use of a professional editor.

  1. If the thesis is to be edited by a professional editor, written permission from the student’s supervisor must be obtained. In order to avoid subsequent challenges or accusations of academic misconduct, it is highly recommended that the student, supervisor, and editor make use of the contract template provided by the Editors’ Association of Canada (Appendix A of Guidelines for Ethical Editing of Theses/Dissertations). It is important for the student to be aware that unauthorized use of editing services at any stage of the thesis production constitutes an academic offence.
  2. Under no circumstances is the level of editing to exceed the guidelines set out by the Editors’ Association of Canada in its Guidelines for Ethical Editing of Theses/Dissertations. In many instances it will be advisable for supervisors to impose a more restrictive level of editing. Ideally, the editing should take place in such a way that it constitutes a learning experience for the student.
  3. In all cases where an editor (professional or otherwise) has been used, specific acknowledgement must be made in the completed thesis. This acknowledgement must include the name of the editor and a brief description of the type of editing services provided (this description should be provided by the editor) and should be included in the "Acknowledgements" section fo the from matter.
  4. Individual Faculties/departments/supervisors may require the student to submit a marked-up copy (hard copy or electronic tracked-changes copy) of the thesis along with the final version in order to demonstrate the degree of editing that has taken place.
  5. It is highly recommended that the editor employed be a member of the Editors’ Association of Canada.