Even after having proofread my thesis many times, I think asking another person to proofread it before submission is necessary.

Is it considered cheating to ask a friend or tutor to proofread your thesis before submission?

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    Is it considered cheating to ask a friend or tutor to proofread your thesis before submission?No.
    – Mad Jack
    Jul 3, 2014 at 20:49
  • 7
    If the answer to this question would be yes, almost every book ever published would be cheated/plagiarized as you normally have an editor.
    – dirkk
    Jul 3, 2014 at 21:24
  • 2
    If it were, then the entire journal refereeing system would be an epic cheating scandal.
    – rschwieb
    Jul 5, 2014 at 0:34
  • If anything, not having your document proofread (and address the issues that come up) is unethical: you'll waste your readers' time with suboptimal presentation.
    – Raphael
    Jul 5, 2014 at 20:52
  • I am a bit surprised by the question. Is there a reason that you are asking this question? i.e. does your institute have some explicit policies that you are border-lining on?
    – akrishnamo
    Jul 5, 2014 at 23:37

6 Answers 6


I can't imagine why it would be cheating: So long as you're producing the majority of the content, it wouldn't be cheating to have someone check for the problems that are now invisible to you!

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    Yeah - I don't see how finding typos has anything to do with 'cheating'. But I would go further - in my days as a grad student it was a social norm to help proofread papers, resumes, and theses. Everyone needs the extra set of eyes that haven't read it a thousand times already. And the help goes beyond just typos - pointing out difficult-to-understand sections (even suggesting alternate wording) is still far far away from cheating.
    – Jon Custer
    Jul 3, 2014 at 20:43
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    @JonCuster: Definitely. Hints like "this proof is wrong" or "your example does not match your definition" or "you should label your axes" are also much appreciated.
    – Raphael
    Jul 5, 2014 at 20:54

Definitely not. In fact, I wish more students in my department would do this!

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    Hi, RoboKaren. This is more of a comment than answer. . . .
    – aeismail
    Jul 3, 2014 at 21:53
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    The OP asked a yes/no question.
    – RoboKaren
    Jul 3, 2014 at 22:01

No. The purpose of your thesis review is not to test your ability to use a word processor or to compose text in a social vacuum. It is a test of your ability to conduct research and communicate those findings to others. Treat it like you would treat any publication, and get feedback from your peers in order to make it as good as possible.

  • What if it is a Bachelor Thesis submitted to a Department of English Studies, that tests the student mastery of the English language as well? Jul 3, 2014 at 22:21
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    Then ask the department (or students in the department) about such a situation. Jul 3, 2014 at 22:23
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    If the Dept. of English Studies has anything at all to do with publishing or commercially-published works, they'll be teaching that everything should be proofread by someone other than the author. Always. By rights, they should fail you for not getting someone else to proofread, but like Not says, check the rules ;-) Btw one convention when acknowledging a proofreader is to say that "any remaining errors are entirely my own responsibility", or words to that effect, which explicitly absolves the proofreader of any blame for the content. Jul 3, 2014 at 22:53
  • @HifaMo: Likely, the student mastery of the English language is tested in that the document focuses topically on the English language. That way, the student will display an equivalent amount of knowledge about the English language as a biology student does by writing about a biology topic. Jul 5, 2014 at 11:46
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    @HifaMo I'd say English studies is as much about correct spelling, as advanced math is about being able to do sums in your head.. that is to say incidental although certainly not a bad idea. I sure hope that nobody would ever publish a paper/thesis without someone else proofreading it, independent of the field.
    – Voo
    Jul 5, 2014 at 20:15

No, not at all! Every writer needs readers, and the purpose of those readers is, as already mentioned, to find the errors, typos, and unclear sections that are now invisible to the writer who has seen the manuscript a thousand times.

Obviously, if your friend or tutor is actually providing content for you, and you are not acknowledging their contribution, then that IS cheating. When you ask someone to read for you, be sure to tell them exactly why you need another set of eyes on the manuscript. I usually ask my friend (or supervisor, if willing) to simply flag all typos and mark the margin where a paragraph is less than clear to them. I can usually figure out what is wrong without having them actually give me any content.

I find that writing--at least good writing!-- is usually not a solo effort, and I am always indebted to at least one person for taking the time to read my manuscript and flag the problem spots for me.

  • I don't think incorporating specific proposals of proofreaders is cheating either. If the help becomes substantial, credit is to be given but it's still not cheating.
    – Raphael
    Jul 5, 2014 at 20:55
  • Excellent point, @Raphael. I edited my answer to reflect this. Jul 5, 2014 at 21:14

It is normal practice in the UK to have your thesis read by your supervisor and, probably, others. However, you should check the rules for your own institute as they may vary on what exactly is permitted.


If your thesis is in math, by all means have others proofread it. Once it is released, it will no longer be possible to correct an error!

However, if your proofreader finds something more substantial than a typing or simple mistake, you must not only credit him with his ideas on the acknowledgement page, but also in a footnote. No harm in this. It is better to get it right and give credit than to get it wrong and take the credit for that for yourself! The quality of your work also reflects on the reputation of your project director and your committee members, you have to respect them by turning out a high quality product.

However, I have found that the probability of a totally error-free thesis is equal to or less than the smallest positive number.

I cannot advise those whose who are English majors; that is a foreign language to an engineer!

  • 5
    "However, if your proofreader finds something more substantial than a typing or simple mistake, you must not only credit him with his ideas on the acknowledgement page, but also in a footnote." No, that is simply not a requirement in any department or thesis I have ever been involved with. Acknowledgements serve to acknowledge. Footnotes are not an inherently higher honor. Jul 4, 2014 at 22:07
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    If that is an actual requirement in any current or former department of yours, that would be interesting to know: please provide us with a link or citation. Jul 4, 2014 at 22:11

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