By Hoey Lee, Undergraduate at Oxford University
== The Idea
Having a fresh set of eyes look at a piece of work can help catch many simple grammar, punctuation and spelling errors that are often missed by the writer.
University Proofreading Exchange: An online platform where students are matched by subject to exchange and proofread each other's work for free.
== How will it work?
Students with work that needs proofreading will sign on to the university-specific portal and fill in a short profile identifying their academic level (college/undergraduate/postgraduate), and area of expertise (social sciences, arts & humanities, sciences). Once their profile is complete they can upload their document (essay, thesis chapter, CV, paper) for proofreading. The system will automatically match the user with three other students in need of proofreading. Having several students proofreading one document is a form of quality assurance. Once a document is completed, it will be returned to the owner who can then rate their reviewers on accuracy and reliability.
== What are the deliverables?
• Support materials to improve proofreading, editing and writing skills
• Service level agreement
• Privacy and confidentiality contracts
• Trial access to a pilot project
• Marketing materials
• Integration of the platform into the university virtual learning environment
== Who will benefit?
Students (including undergraduates; postgraduates; ESL students; students with learning disabilities such as dyslexia) will submit pieces of writing with fewer basic errors. This benefits both the supervisors and students. For supervisors, this saves their time by decreasing the amount of basic proofreading required of them; and for students, it helps improve their writing and the quality of limited interactions with their supervisors.
“3.4.1 Students value two attributes over others in the supervisory relationship: critical engagement with their work and administrative ability and understanding. Many students reported a lack of critical engagement on the part of the supervisor with their work.” Oxford University Student Union (OUSU) PGR Report 2012
“Humanities students were perhaps more likely to report not seeing their supervisor for long stretches of time than students in other divisions.” OUSU PGR Report 2012
“Number of supervisor contact hours is a major concern for graduate students.” OUSU VP Graduates
The students also gain easy-access to a university network which will improve the student experience by facilitating an interactive, supportive academic community across research groups.
“Students in humanities emphasised the value they placed on academic community, often in reference to the perceived potential to be isolated. A typical comment here was ‘I have much less “community” in my area of specialisation than I would have expected. But then DPhils are known for being a bit isolating.’ Students stated strongly that they value interacting with each other’s work, and the work of academics.” OUSU PGR Report 2012
“Another student suggested that ‘they could do more to help us meet other people in the field. A few of us have formed our own discussion group because we feel the faculty isn’t providing this’”. OUSU PGR Report 2012
“One commented sadly that ‘there’s not a lot of sharing between groups’, a sentiment that was often echoed.” OUSU PGR Report 2012
• 2 weeks of design (mock-ups, brand, logo)
• 8 weeks of website development – with on-going testing and iteration
• 2 weeks of promotion and marketing
== People who will be involved in developing the idea
A team of five Oxford students, alumni and staff are currently working on this idea through the Oxford Saïd Business School’s Lean Launchpad Program and are in discussions with the Isis Software Incubator.
• Ben Holmes- Staff at Oxford IT Services
• Daniel Thompson- Current DPhil in Material Science
• Hoey Lee- Current undergraduate in PPE
• Lucy Erickson- Alumni of MSc in BCM, and current staff at the Chemistry Department
• Tamara Etmannski- Current DPhil in Engineering Science
• The team’s entrepreneurial mentor: Matthew Batstone, Co-founder & Director of New College of the Humanities
Undergraduate at Oxford University
I am a second year student in Philosophy, Politics and Economics at Pembroke College, Oxford.