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The purpose of this paper is to gauge the views of the members of Australian societies of editors about the next stages of the national accreditation scheme.

Background
Research and development
Options
Comparison of options
Trials
How are exams delivered elsewhere?

Background

The Institute of Professional Editors Limited (IPEd) was established to manage an accreditation scheme for Australian editors. Three exams have been held to date (2008, 2009 and 2011). The exams measure editorial competence against Australian Standards for Editing Practice (ASEP). Of 255 candidates 156 gained accreditation in 2008 and 2009.

After three exams and ten years of discussion and development, IPEd remains convinced of the importance and value of accreditation of editors by editors, as occurs in many other professions. Employers and clients are increasingly realising that accreditation offers them assurance that editors meet industry quality standards.

After ten years, it is time to take stock of what has been achieved to date and how best accreditation should be managed for the next three to five years. IPEd Council and its Accreditation Board (AB) now seek the input of members of societies of editors about how they would like accreditation exams to be offered.

Accreditation exams to date have been pen-and-paper exams held in invigilated exam centres in capital cities. Some editors have provided feedback indicating that they would prefer to sit an exam onscreen, which would mirror more closely the way that they work every day.

Research and development

Since early 2008, an Accreditation Board working group has been exploring possibilities for an onscreen exam. As yet, using the volunteer labour on which, for budgetary reasons, IPEd has had to rely, a workable solution has not been found. For this reason the October 2012 exam is again being offered as a pen-and-paper exam.

However, the two years of research and development has enabled the Accreditation Board and IPEd Council to develop a detailed picture of the options which might be feasible. There are eight possible modes of exam delivery, each with advantages and disadvantages. The views of society members are now sought to guide the ongoing research.

Several key issues have emerged in the AB’s investigation of options, namely:

  • cost to candidates and to IPEd – members’ surveys show a high sensitivity to costs
  • security – using an exam delivery method that removes any possibility that a candidate might falsely gain accreditation (i.e. by cheating or have someone else sit the exam on their behalf)
  • equity – ensuring equal access to the exam for editors nation-wide
  • the logistics required to run a national exam.

Depending on the model selected, certain costs are fixed and others variable, depending on the number of candidates. For example, exam development costs are fixed, venue costs for an invigilated exam (the size and type of exam room required) vary with the candidature and exam format; and marking costs increase with the number of candidates, although the cost is the same for each paper marked.

Many, many of the activities necessary to the conduct of the exam are carried out by a small band of IPEd volunteers, drawn from the seven societies of editors. The capacity of these hard-working volunteers to continue to offer so much on their colleagues’ behalf is being sorely stretched and is not sustainable.

Options

Eight possible exam options are outlined in the table below. A note on terminology:

An onscreen exam is a Word document delivered via a network, CD, DVD or USB device, or via email.

An online exam is either a Word document worked remotely on the internet, on a secure website; or an interactive version of the exam reengineered on an educational website for internet access.

Both onscreen and online exams could be taken by the candidate at home or in an invigilated environment.

The AB has indicated in the last column some of the possible problems in onscreen and online exams. We are also confident that these problems can be overcome, but this may require commercially contracted professional input. The AB would be interested to hear from members and societies of other options for exam delivery.

Comparison of options

 

 

Exam medium

Location

Delivery and return method

Form of exam, tools

Security management

Issues to consider

1

PAPER

In invigilated exam centre

Australia Post.

Complex, secure logistics required

Word doc, hand-edit with pen

Invigilators present

Inflexible timing

Disadvantages non-metropolitan candidates

Hand mark-up not used by all editors

Familiar model

2

PAPER

Posted to candidate’s home or to invigilator

Australia Post

Registered post required

Word doc, hand-edit with pen

Candidate arranges volunteer invigilator; or is monitored by web camera; or self-monitors (= trust)

Invigilation must be arranged by candidate and approved by IPEd; with stat dec. to be signed by candidate or invigilator

Timing could be flexible

3

ELECTRONIC

Onscreen in networked classroom

Memory stick

Word doc,
MS tools

Invigilators present

Computers and networks can fail in networked classroom

Power blackouts, internet outages, etc

Most expensive option

4

ELECTRONIC

Onscreen in candidate’s home

Email attachment

Word doc,
MS tools

Candidate arranges volunteer invigilator; or is monitored by web camera; or self-monitors (= trust)

As for 2

Email attachment may be too large for candidate’s system

Timing could be flexible

Email security?

5

ELECTRONIC

Online in exam centre using internet

Exam held on secure website

Word doc;
MS tools

Invigilators present

As for 4

Secure website used in trials needs to ensure track changes and other Word tools are available

System to date does not provide for Macs

6

ELECTRONIC

Online in exam centre using internet

Exam held on IPEd website

Exam reengineered in Moodle

Invigilators present

As for 4

Moodle trials have yet to deliver equivalent tools to editing in Word

May allow some automatic marking thereby reducing costs

7

ELECTRONIC

Online in candidate’s home via internet

Exam held on secure website

Word doc;
MS tools

Candidate arranges volunteer invigilator; or is monitored by web camera; or self-monitors (= trust)

As for 2

Secure website used in trials needs to ensure track changes and other Word tools are available.

System to date does not provide for Macs.

Security is good; exam cannot be forwarded by email.

8

ELECTRONIC

Online in candidate’s home via internet

Exams held on IPEd website

Exam reengineered in Moodle

Candidate arranges volunteer invigilator; or is monitored by web camera; or self-monitors (= trust)

As for 2

Moodle trials have yet to deliver equivalent tools to editing in Word

May allow some automatic marking thereby reducing costs

Trials

The Accreditation Board and members of IPEd Council have conducted three onscreen/online trials to date :

  • An online trial exam using the Moodle platform for all parts of the exam.
  • An online trial exam using the Moodle 2 platform, for Parts 1 and 3 only.
  • An online trial of the exam as a Word document, using the Watchdox secure website for delivery and return of the exam.

More detailed information on the trials.

To date the AB has tried as far as possible to exactly replicate the pen-and-paper exam onscreen and online. We should however consider that a slightly different exam, more suited to onscreen completion, could test the same application of ASEP as the 2008, 2009 and 2011 exams have done and will do.

How are exams delivered elsewhere?

The UK Society for Editors and Proofreaders (SfEP) sends its proofreading accreditation pencil and paper test to members to complete in their own homes and return within 15 days. Cost: £135–155. A second stage, registration, can be gained with written employer endorsements.

The Editors’ Association of Canada offers certification by pen-and-paper test in a range of areas: copy editing, stylistic editing, proofreading, and structural editing. Tests are offered for two of these specialities each year, on one day each year, at a range of sites across Canada as resources and demand allow. Cost: $375–$475 per test.

Prepared by

Rosemary Luke, Chair, Institute of Professional Editors Ltd.

Pam Peters, Councillor (NSW), Institute of Professional Editors Ltd. Convenor of the Onscreen/Online Working Group

Julie-Anne Justus, Chair, Accreditation Board, Institute of Professional Editors Ltd.

 

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