As an academic editor, I do not write papers for anyone, and I do not sell papers to anyone. Neither do I rewrite papers. My job is to take what you have already written and polish it by correcting errors of grammar, usage, spelling, punctuation, formatting, and so forth. I help to clarify your writing and improve organization. I may also make suggestions and comments regarding your research or writing, but I do not provide you with new material or arguments.
Still, some might ask if this isn’t a form of cheating. Shouldn’t students be turning in their own work with all its flaws? Doesn’t editing prevent students from improving their own writing and learning from their own mistakes?
These may in fact be legitimate concerns with English composition courses, where students are supposed to be learning the fundamentals of writing, and for this reason I do not edit papers written for such courses. English composition instructors need to see the sorts of difficulties their students are having. I am, however, available for outside consultation, which can be especially valuable for ESL students.
But in other courses writing assignments have a different purpose. Here students are writing to present the results of their research or otherwise communicate their ideas and arguments. Writing difficulties, however, frequently detract from the presentation of their work. And university writing centers might not always provide the level of assistance a student needs. This is where academic editing can be useful. It first of all provides a valuable learning experience, because a student sees how the document he or she has already written can be improved. And by studying the changes and comments made by the editor, the student can improve his or her own skills. In addition, professors won't always take the time or trouble to correct all the writing errors a student may make; they may not even be aware of all such errors themselves. A good editor, however, will take the time and do a thorough job, providing a level of feedback the student is not going to get anywhere else.
Of greater concern is the growing problem of plagiarism, whereby students simply lift material off the Internet or even buy papers online. This increases pressure on those students who want to be honest, but who also worry they can compete only if they cheat. But with the help of an academic editor, honest students can compete without resorting to plagiarizing—and come out ahead in the bargain. Besides improving their own writing, research, and thinking skills—which the plagiarists never will—they can take pride in getting a legitimately good grade and resisting the temptation to take the easy way out.
ESL students can be at a particular disadvantage when it comes to writing. For them, using an academic editor helps to level the playing field so that their assignments can be fairly graded on the merits of their thinking and research. At the same time, they can improve their own English skills when they study the changes and corrections their editor has made.
And professors themselves often recommend that a student get an editor. What matters in the end is that the student has done the research, the thinking, and the fundamental writing; whether he or she had assistance in improving the writing and presentation should not be an issue. The student can legitimately lay claim to the final product.
And finally, in the publishing world, editing is not just a virtue—it is a necessity. And no one would ever suggest that the edited work of writers or scholars was somehow tainted, or that it was not properly theirs.