Of course it's ethical to edit a text. Who wouldn't agree?

A writer wants a text to look and feel as good as possible, to capture the reader at every turn, and so they edit it. They edit it themselves. They ask others to read it and make suggestions. And they ask others to edit it. Sometimes they even pay others to edit it. That's what makes editing a business and even a profession.

But are there cases when this shouldn't happen?

Take university essays, for example. Is it right to revise someone else's work to make it read more easily than when it flowed directly from the author's pen (or auto-proofchecking word processor)?

Again, I would say yes. As long as credit is given in the acknowledgements, everything should be possible and nothing should be hidden. For in most cases, it's the content of the text that counts. As long as the language revision does not add or remove an equation, say, or change a piece of reasoning, then it is a question of checking that the author has said what they want to say. And that they have got the spelling and grammar right.

This is especially the case when a thesis, or a copy of a thesis, has to be in a language other than the author's mother tongue. Who wouldn't want their grand theorem given the once over if it has been remoulded in a language other than the one in which it was originally conceived?

There's something in this for professors, too. They can concentrate on what the thesis is saying rather than how the thesis is saying it.

There may be an exception that proves the rule. Proving competence in a foreign or second language is another issue altogether, and creative writing, for example, goes to the essence of how phrases are phrased. Playing with punctuation in a poem or short story is different from checking syntax in a doctoral thesis on molecular biology.

But as for the latter ... the text biz is happy to provide English language revision for a university thesis, as long as the relevant institution permits it.

See the service list for details.