One of the services I provide that I find myself having to defend on occasion is editing dissertations and theses.* While it’s taken for granted as a perfectly acceptable practice among most academics, I’ve sometimes come across editors and other freelancers who are very distressed at the idea of helping a student refine the ultimate paper of their graduate school career.
It is true that there are ethical matters associated with dissertation editing that don’t apply to other types of documents, like conference papers and journal articles. But the sheer antipathy that I’ve encountered from some dissenters simply shows how unfamiliar they are with this area of editing. I hope to clear up some of the associated confusion here.
Myth #1: Nothing Heavier than Basic Proofreading is Ethical
Fact: There are a few things that an editor cannot ethically do for a dissertation: produce original writing, develop original ideas, or conduct research. Beyond that, as they say, your mileage may vary.
Book review of Social Networking for Career Success, by Miriam Salpeter
I am going to confess that the reason I have felt motivated to start writing a blog for my business website is the knowledge that freelancers benefit from maintaining an active social media presence and that I am nowhere near as active on the major forms of social media as I could and should be.
I use Plurk, and I do so with my Second Life persona. What is Plurk? you might wonder, especially if you’re neither Taiwanese nor active in SL (it's based in Taiwan and popular — seemingly because of a snowball effect — among Second Life users). In an acquaintance’s words, it's “Twitter lying down.” It’s a microblogging site where posts and comments are up to 210 characters each, with a horizontal layout instead of Twitter’s vertical listing.
I plurk pretty comfortably and very regularly, so you’d think I’d feel no weirdness in joining and becoming active on Twitter. I should feel right at home on Facebook. Or entering new frontiers on Google+. But I’ve needed a bit of help trying to figure out how and where to dip my toes in.
Just about my favorite professional topics of conversation are plagiarism and academic integrity. I love them with a nerdy little glee because they seem like they’d be pretty straightforward, but they are so not. I am likely to delve into the more complex aspects of plagiarism in this blog and try not to bore anyone to death with them. Let’s start with the following question:
When are editors responsible for identifying plagiarism and related problems with attribution in clients’ papers?
I’m not a lawyer, but from a contractual standpoint, I believe this should only be the case when the editor and the client explicitly agree to it. Ideally, the parties would pin down very specific tasks the editor accepts responsibility for, rather than requiring the editor to return a plagiarism-free deliverable. If nothing is said on the matter, then responsibility for academic integrity should be entirely in the author’s hands.
From an ethical standpoint, the editor is responsible for pointing out such problems if he or she notices them. This is not the same as being charged with the obligation to find them.
Library porn is practically an internet genre for those of us who swing that way. Blog posts and articles about the world’s greatest/most beautiful/most spectacular/just plain best libraries display photos (sometimes the same ones) of soaring ceilings and numerous shelves crammed with countless volumes, or sleek, modern construction that promises physical comfort and distraction-free study in a building that will convey your materials directly to you, or libraries of the eco-friendly future with grass roofs and water recycling systems.
And I eat it all up. I start imagining the day when I can go on worldwide tours to see these architectural marvels, created or adapted for housing knowledge, entertainment, recreation, memories: books and their info tech successors.
Do we need to travel to Taiwan or Austria or Brazil for the ultimate booklover’s experience, though? These buildings are amazing, but are we restricted to second-string library love until that far-off day when we can travel the literary world? Or do we just need to appreciate the libraries that have already shaped our lives a little bit more?
“This study has been driven in part by the researcher’s background managing a seal training facility. One seal trainer’s actions caused the researcher to struggle with leaving seals in the hands of an inadequate trainer. After three years of the researcher trying to redress the trainer’s shortcomings, the trainer was dismissed. However, he continues to harass the facility by throwing rubber fish at windows. As this experience illustrates, the researcher is a stakeholder in the present study.”
My background is in women’s studies, an academic field in which first person is seldom controversial, and I consider that a privilege. The idea that the words “I” and “me” don’t belong in proper research articles and books has not been a big part of my learning experience since high school.
I probably don’t have to explain the position opposed to first person in too much detail. Many of us learned it in high school or college as “the way” to write a term paper—or even something more advanced than that. If the research is truly objective, we’ve been told, then the insertion of the researcher’s identity distracts the reader at best and introduces bias at worst.
I'm Lea, a freelance editor who specializes in academic and nonfiction materials. More info about my services is available throughout this site.