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Cleaner, helper, teacher? The role of proofreaders of student writing

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As part of a larger interview-based study of the beliefs, practices and experiences of 16 proofreaders of student writing in a university setting, this article reports informants’ conceptualisations of their role. ‘Proofreading’ is defined for the purposes of this research as ‘third-party interventions (that entail some level of written alteration) on assessed work in progress’. Informants’ descriptions were grouped using five metaphors to describe the proofreader’s role: helper, cleaner, leveller, mediator and/or teacher. Although some informants did not identify with the proofreader-as-teacher metaphor, it turned out that proofreaders adopt a number of strategies to ensure their feedback is formative. The implications of the study are discussed, and further issues for research identified.
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Keywords: academic support; academic writing; feedback; non-native writer; proofreading

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Language & Linguistics,University of Essex, Colchester,CO4 3SQ, UK 2: International Academy,University of Essex, Colchester, UK 3: Department of Sociology,University of Essex, Colchester, UK

Publication date: 2012-08-01

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