Re: Ethics - Helping with a Thesis

Subject: Re: Ethics - Helping with a Thesis
From: Romay Jean Sitze <rositze -at- NMSU -dot- EDU>
Date: Sun, 3 Dec 1995 20:16:14 -0700

The ethics involved in this type of question pose some interesting
questions, don't they! I've heard many students say that they hire a
typist who will correct grammar and spelling for them as they type. And
at least one professor I know told me that any doctoral student who
didn't bother to have a good editor help him/her with the dissertation
was foolish. So what are the limits and responsibilities here?

I've been in such situations--as the typist/editor. What I did was to
find out what the professor expected--and try to work within those
limitations. If the student was being judged on the ability to perform
such tasks, then I did not, and would not, correct his/her errors. I
would, however, offer tutoring services to help the student learn to
correct his/her own papers. This can be a good approach with an ESL
student also.

My feeling is that as long as the student is doing the research and my
role is limited to assistance rather than the creation of the work
itself, there is a great deal of room for good editing and tutoring
without falling into an ethical bind.

On Thu, 30 Nov 1995, Ellen Fenwick wrote:

> In a recent thread about avenues for finding work, it was suggested that
> one might approach graduate students about assisting with a thesis (with
> appropriate cautions about limiting the degree of assistance and perhaps
> getting approval from the thesis advisor beforehand).

> This was great! I'm doing a research paper on this very topic. Is the
> practice really unethical? On what ethical grounds? For example, are
> there any rights that are being violated? Who does it really hurt
> (utilitarian argument)? Is it unethical for just the student, just the
> assisting writer, both? Is there a line between what is ethical and what
> is not? Does the line change, for instance, for ESL (English as a second
> language) students? Etc.

> I'd be interested in your experiences and viewpoints, privately or on the
> list. I'd be happy to summarize the responses (anonymously, of course).

> Ellen Fenwick
> ellefenw -at- mailstn -dot- sarmc -dot- org

RoMay Sitze, rositze -at- nmsu -dot- edu

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