Changes Beyond Limits: Proofreading in an American University

Ahmad I Alhojailan


Students are usually asked to submit term papers, reports, research proposals, dissertations, theses, etc. for assessment purposes. Unfortunately, not all students are able to write at the level that their professors expect. Therefore, students are encouraged by their professors to have their papers carefully proofread before submission. This study investigates the beliefs, practices, and experiences of proofreaders who proofread students’ writing, along with different issues related to proofreading. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with two proofreaders studying for their Ph.D. in the English Department in a university in the American Southwest. The results show that a misunderstanding of the role of a proofreader exists between proofreaders and student writers and among proofreaders themselves. My findings also show that proofreading is used only for academic survival. I highlight how the educational system and the proofreaders' qualifications have affected the description of proofreading. The results emphasize the need for implementing regulations for proofreading services to guarantee that they are standardized and administered consistently to avoid misrepresentation of students' true writing abilities, and to maintain a good reputation for universities with respect to their graduates' writing skills.

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