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Proposed legislation on cheating

... and how it affects editors

Proposed legislation on cheating highlights for editors the importance of adhering to the revised IPEd Guidelines for editing research theses.

The federal government has indicated it will introduce a bill into parliament, called the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency Amendment (Prohibiting Academic Cheating Services) Bill 2019. The proposed bill states, in part, that it will be illegal to provide 'cheating' services, which are defined as 'completing an assignment or any other work that the student is required to complete as part of the course of study' or 'providing any part of a piece of work or assignment that the student is required to complete as part of the course of study'.

You can read a summary of the proposed legislation here.

The proposed legislation can be accessed here.

The chair of IPEd's Standing Committee on Academic Editing, Dr Laurel Mackinnon, recently wrote to the Australian Council for Graduate Research (ACGR) about the potential issues for editors of postgraduate research theses in the proposed legislation on cheating. This prompted the ACGR to provide feedback to the Department of Education (DET) requesting that the use of professional editors in accordance with IPEd's recently revised, and ACGR-endorsed, Guidelines for editing research theses be explicitly exempt from the proposed legislation.

The Group of Eight universities (representing Qld, NSW, Sydney, ANU, Melbourne, Monash, WA and Adelaide universities) also noted this as a potential problem in its submission in response to the proposed legislation.

We are pleased to report that DET has since confirmed to the ACGR that the proposed legislation (still in draft and subject to ministerial approval) already includes a broad exception to the new offence (at paragraph 114A(4) of the draft Bill) that would mean any assistance or services that are sanctioned or authorised by the university, or a specific office or school of a university (whether in a formal policy or not), or any academic setting assessable work (who might, say, suggest editing services, etc.), are covered by the exception and so will not be captured by the criminal offence or civil penalty provisions of the bill.

Given the proposed legislation, IPEd recommends that all editors who provide editing services to postgraduate students closely follow the revised Guidelines for editing research theses and, in particular, obtain prior supervisor permission for any editing services provided.


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