Why hire a professional editor for your dissertation?
It’s thesis or dissertation time. You’ve been a diligent graduate student, working tirelessly into the night or during the wee hours of the morning, watching the sun rise through the library windows. We can sympathize. We’ve been there. We remember furiously typing up pages and pages of notes, filling the white void on the screen before us with black characters that bear out the One Universal Truth that we must defend: the thesis statement.
We know you have read, revised, submitted, revised with your director and committee’s suggestions and corrections, and resubmitted yet again. If you are lucky, you will get encouraging feedback, with minimal corrections for grammar and style, or a simple note to proofread carefully.
If you’re not adept at writing, though, the document you receive back from the round of committee readings may be awash in red - or Microsoft Word’s equivalent of an angry red pen wielded by your scary high school English teacher. Oh, the shame. Oh, the frustration.
What’s a grad student to do? Hire a pro?
Why yes, that’s exactly what should happen, and what does happen, like clockwork, depending on the university’s term system, every time it churns out another cap-and-gowned batch of newly-minted masters and doctors. So if, at this point, you are asking yourself: “should I?” The answer is definitely yes. For three good reasons:
1. A second (or third) set of eyes will pick up any errors you missed.
There is a curious process that occurs when we make simple errors like typos or errors in spelling or usage. When we re-read, our brain doesn’t always pick up on those errors because they are registered in short-term memory and so the eye tends to scan past it because the brain registers your input as “correct.” This is why it is necessary to get a “second set of eyes” - a willing friend or professional editor - to help you proofread your work.
This simple step can help you avoid many errors Word misses, such as “to” for “too” or “there” for “their.” And while a willing friend is good to have, and they can usually be paid in pizza or beer, they have to have a pretty decent grasp of writing to be effective. If they don’t know their “there” from their “their,” you’re not any further ahead.
This is why people pay professionals. We not only know our “are” from our “our,” but we know where those tricky semicolons go, where to close a quote, and how to flag a missing citation. A good friend may or may not be invested in your success either, depending on how hungry or thirsty they are; but a paid editor wants to make sure you get the best return on your investment, not to mention the warm feeling we get when a customer gives us a favorable review and word-of-mouth business.
2. A professionally-edited thesis or dissertation can often mean the gain of at least one grade point.
The myriad differences between English and other world languages means that students whose first language is not English are sometimes required by their departments to have their work professionally edited before submission. The boom in enrollments by students from China and the Middle East translates to students who arrive at American and European universities under-prepared in terms of written English.
3. Stop worrying and be brilliant!
Knowing that you can hire someone to fix any errors frees you up to concentrate on the content of your thesis and leave the style to an expert. Imagine knowing that there is an editor out there who, once your manuscript is in their capable hands, will fix your margins, make sure your paragraphs are all indented properly, and round up some pesky run-on sentences. An editor will also tell you whether or not your work makes sense and point out inconsistencies in logic.
So how much will it cost me?
The cost depends on a few factors, but you can expect to spend from $750 to $1800, while a PhD dissertation can run between $1,800 and $3,600. In fact, you should beware of any service that charges anything less than $300 per 10,000 words. These are usually freelance “mills” that farm work out to the lowest bidder, who is often not a native English speaker, and probably hasn't ever edited an academic piece before.
Further, we realize that graduate students are strapped for cash, yet the cost of a professional edit of the culmination of your hard work is as much a part of your university investment as books and lab fees. (I mention this because I was once upbraided by an impoverished and probably weary graduate student on Reddit for seeking to profit from the poverty-stricken.)
That being said, we charge anywhere from USD 300 per 10,000 words for simple proofreading and formatting. If a full edit is needed (and this includes correcting mistakes in spelling and grammar, formatting the thesis to departmental requirements, rewriting poorly worded or ambiguous sentences, pointing out factual errors, and checking that referencing is correct) the price can be much higher.
We feel that it is important that our clients understand the difference between a full edit and a proofread and format, and that most theses and dissertations do not require a full edit because universities do provide some sort of instruction in graduate-level research and preparation of documents but, as we stated above, students whose first language is anything other than English - especially those who only have rudimentary English skills - will most likely need a