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Dissertation and thesis editing: A complete guide

Updated: May 27


Key highlights / tl;dr:


1. There are four main options for thesis editing: i) Editing by yourself; ii) Using paid editing software; iii) Paying for editing and proofreading from an editing company; and iv) Hiring a personal editor.


2. Editing your thesis by yourself or using paid editing software requires a certain level of expertise, experience, and even training in academic writing.


3. The big online editing companies generally provide affordable, expert, and reliable editing at approximately $30 – $45 per 1000 words.


4. Personal editors have the advantage of personalizing their  to your needs to provide unique value. 

. . .

Having your thesis edited can be an important step before submitting your final document. The editing process can reveal minor and major flaws that when corrected can increase the chances of successfully submitting your thesis or dissertation.


Editing your thesis manuscript can be done through either one of four options:


  1. Editing your dissertation or thesis by yourself

  2. Using paid AI proofreading software

  3. Hiring a personal professional editor

  4. Contracting  from a big online editing company



In this article, I talk about when it is appropriate for you to use professional editing providers as opposed to editing by yourself. Plus, I talk about the advantages and disadvantages of using each of the four options. Also, I talk about what goes into editing a thesis manuscript and the various stages or types of editing.

Table of Contents


Benefits of professional thesis editing 


The advantages of academic editing lie in the fact that professional editors can approach your work with a lack of bias. This is due to their extensive experience and expertise.


As a result, professional thesis editing  may play a crucial role in ensuring that you can complete your thesis on time and that your thesis meets the requirements of your university. After all, a master's thesis or dissertation may be the most important project in your academic life.


First, let's take a look at what is included in professional thesis editing :  


  • Proofreading to fix grammar, punctuation, and spelling errors

  • Ensuring stylistic consistency to meet the requirements of your target journal or university rubric

  • Improving clarity, structure, and tone

  • Improving the language of non-native English speakers

  • Tightening or strengthening the arguments you make


Most students or academic professionals are advised to edit their thesis after writing it. Such advice often goes something like this. When writing the first draft of your thesis, you should not focus on writing the perfect document.


Instead, the focus should be transforming thoughts into words on the page. Every student and academic should go through this process or heed this advice. However, this type of self-editing may not be sufficient.


Sometimes, you need a fresh set of professional eyes to make sure that you produce the best possible dissertation or thesis. Let’s look at the benefits of hiring a professional editor for your thesis or dissertation: 


1. Thesis editing provides a fresh set of eyes


A professional editor provides a fresh perspective. This is because they are coming to your manuscript as an unbiased professional. They are also viewing your work for the first time. This means that they can read it with “brand-new eyes” — which enables them to spot areas of improvement that you may have missed.


Let’s face it. A master’s thesis may be the most important document that you have ever committed to in your life. The amount of pressure associated with this task may means you cannot approach your thesis in a cool and unbiased manner. 


A professional editor has done this a million times before. They would be in a position to approach your thesis from an angle that is free of bias or emotion. 


2. Leveraging years of expertise and experience


A professional editor, as opposed to an amateur, will bring years of experience and expertise to your academic writing. Academic writing is difficult and can take years of study and experience to master.


While you may be able to master it on your own, using a professional editor saves you time and effort.

Writing a 7000 – 12,000 word dissertation or thesis may seem like an unsurmountable challenge to you.

However, professional editors may have years of experience editing such documents. 


More importantly, a professional editor may also be a former or current academic. This means they might have subject matter expertise (or SME), which you can benefit from as a junior scholar. 


3. Professional thesis editing  improve your writing


A professional academic editor can help you become a better academic writer. Your thesis might be the first major academic project that you completed. However, it may not be the last. It may represent the beginning of a long career in academics.


The best professional editors do not simply correct your errors. They provide critical levels of feedback. If such feedback is followed, it can help you slowly turn into a better writer in the long run.


4. It ensures stylistic consistency


Style in academics means the rubric or formatting standards that are required by your university or department for your thesis manuscript.  For example, you might be required to use APA, CMOS, or MLA. 


If you’re a junior scholar, you might not be familiar with the details of academic style. And most persons writing a thesis for the first time will be junior scholars. In fact, no one — not even experienced academic editors — memorizes all the rules associated with a style guide such as APA or CMOS.


Professional editors make it their job to be familiar with these style guides. Even if they won’t memorize every rule, they know how to use style guides and enforce them consistently throughout your thesis manuscript.


5. It saves you time and money


Editing your own thesis comes with an opportunity cost. Perhaps, your time would be better spent doing other things, such as lab work. Hiring a professional editor might on the surface seem expensive.


However, this perspective changes when you think about a few things. What amount of time will you save? How much will you be able to cut back on costs?  A professional editor may end up saving you both time and money. 


The four options for thesis editing 


There are various options for editing your thesis. The one that you eventually choose will depend on several factors. As mentioned earlier, there are four options for thesis editing: 


1. Editing your dissertation or thesis by yourself

2. Using paid AI proofreading software

3. Hiring a personal professional editor

4. Contracting  from a big online editing company


So, which one of the four should you choose? It depends on factors such as: 


  • Your level of experience as an academic writer

  • Your level of skill as an English writer

  • The amount of money you can afford to spend

  • The amount of time you can afford to spend


The less experienced you are or the less time you have, the more you will benefit from professional thesis editing . In the following section, we will go on to discuss the pros and cons for each one of the four options. 


1. Editing your thesis by yourself


It might be perfectly OK to edit and proofread your thesis or dissertation manuscript by yourself. That means you won’t have to pay for someone to do so. Thus, saving you money.


This is a good option if you are a native English speaker or if you have native English level proficiency.


Advantages and disadvantages of editing on your own


The main advantage of proofreading on your own is that you know or at least you should know your own research better than anyone else. This means you are more qualified than anyone else to correct yourself.


Moreover, you save money and don’t have to worry about falling foul of university rules that may prohibit certain types of editing by others. However, you may not have the time or skill to be an editor. Especially if we’re talking about the most important document in your academic or professional life. 

The table below summarizes the advantages and disadvantages of editing and proofreading your thesis by yourself. 


Advantages

Disadvantages

  • You will save money 

  • You know your work better than most so may be the best qualified to edit it

  • Your university may prohibit the substantive editing offered by professional editors

  • You may not be qualified to recognize errors

  • You may be too close to your manuscript

  • You may not have time to do a good job

2. Using paid software for proofreading 


Highly specialized editing software can be used to edit your manuscript. Many of them have only been developed only in the past few years. However,  not all proofreading software is built equally.

Don’t be fooled by editors or businesses who offer AI-editing  for your manuscript. Only a few proofreading software have been designed specifically for academic editing. They include but are not limited to:


  • PerfectIT

  • Sribendi AI

  • Scribbr’s proofreading AI


They are deal for long documents such as theses and dissertations. They ensure stylistic consistency, such as using abbreviations, proper spelling, and heading/subheading formatting style throughout the article.


For example, if you are using a foreign word in a 10,000 word article that needs to be in italics as required by the APA style guide, you can simply click a button to make sure that word is italicized throughout the article.


However, proofreading software is not a replacement for a human proofreader. It would be quite difficult to achieve the best proofreading  with paid proofreading software alone. This type of software is most efficient when used by a professional editor. 


Advantages and disadvantages of using proofreading software


Using paid editing software increases your efficiency because they are automated and make multiple corrections at the touch of a button. Also, the right proofreading software is designed specifically for academic writing.


However, such software are specialized tools that require specific experience and skill. The table below sums up the advantages and disadvantages of using professional editing software to edit your thesis manuscript. 

Advantages 

Disadvantages

  • It's quick and automated

  • It is designed for academic editing 

  • It captures errors that human eyes could miss

  • It is not always correct

  • Needs expert human guidance

  • Can be expensive without delivering results if improperly used

3. Thesis editing  from editing companies


There has been a rapid increase in editing companies to meet the growing demand for proofreading and editing  for both theses and other academic documents. 


This demand is driven by thousands of foreign students who are required to complete their theses or dissertations in English when English is not their first language.


Other editing customers include scholars trying to get published in prestigious English-language journals for promotions and funding in academia. Let’s see how these different editing companies work.


How a thesis editing service works


There are dozens of thesis editing service companies to choose from. These companies differ in how they operate. However, they have a few commonalities. 


Most have headquarters located in a major city. However, they use both in-house and freelance editors. These editors have to go through rigorous and difficult qualifying tests. This is before they undergo thorough training to get them ready to edit your thesis manuscript or other academic document.


This training results in your manuscript or document being edited skillfully and quickly at a relatively low cost. By paying only a little, you can end up with a document with substantial improvement.


Most of these  are online companies. They allow you to upload your documents to their websites, pay electronically, and have a fully edited paper returned to you between one week or four hours. 


Advantages of using an editing company


Using thesis editing  comes with a number of advantages. This is because they rely on large pools of highly qualified and highly trained freelance editors and proofreaders from all over the world.


Several editing and proofreading companies have become household names. These include Proofed, Scribendi, Scribbr, ProofreadingPal, Editage, and so on. Here, we only look briefly at them. 


For a more detailed discussion on choosing the best editing , take a look at my article here: Selecting the best proofreading : Pricing and service


Let’s take a look at the advantages one by one. 


1. Affordable pricing. Due to the competitive nature of the market, editing prices can be quite affordable. Most editing  come as low as $30 to $45 per 1000 words.


2. Highly skilled editors. These companies rely on freelance editors located throughout the world. They go through difficult qualifying tests and training to ensure that only the best or the cream of the crop end up working as professional editors.


3. Rapid and convenient . Proofreading companies offer rapid turnaround times. These turnaround times range between four and two hours and two weeks. And it’s often a 24-7 service. So, if you’re in a hurry to have your paper completed, they would be the best choice. 


4. Educational resources. The best editing companies are not content with simply editing or proofreading your thesis. Instead, they have numerous articles or resource pages that teach you the basics of writing an academic paper or thesis. 


Disadvantages of using a thesis editing company


Editing companies have a business model that focuses on low pricing, mass marketing, and speed. This creates conditions that can encourage a lack of personalization and factory-like processes.  


1. Lack of personalization. Because of the massive amount of work that editing companies perform, they have developed processes to speed things up. This means there is no face-to-face communication between the editor and you the client. 


2. Rushed . It would be ideal to get several weeks to edit your thesis. However many students and academics are under tight deadlines. This necessitates In general, editing and proofreading  put a premium on finishing quickly. These rushed  may lead to less-than-ideal . 


Table 1. A list of major proofreading companies and their proofreading rates per 1000 words and Trustpilot ratings.

Proofreading Service

Standard Price 

Country 

Cambridge Proofreading

$30

USA

Paper True

$32

India

Proofreading Pal

$28

USA

Scribendi

$37

Canada

Scribbr

$42

Netherlands

Editor World

$28

USA 

Proofed 

$45

South Africa

Wordvice

$48

UK

Editage

$58

USA

Enago

$58

USA

Note. A table showing proofreading rates in USD per 1000 words and Trustpilot ratings out of five stars. 


Which is the best thesis editing company?


The best proofreading or editing company is a subjective matter?  However, we can try to answer by looking at factors such as price, convenience, and customer service.


1. Best thesis editing company based on Price. The average price per 1000 words for the average editing service is $40.6, and the median value is $. So, we can say that the typical price you can expect from these  is around $39.5  per 1000 words.


Figure 1. Editing rates for 10 thesis editing companies



Note. A bar chart showing proofreading rates per 1000 words in USD for 1. Scribendi, $37; 2. Scribbr, $42; 3. Proofed, $45; 4. Paper True, $32; 5. Enago, $58; 6. Editor World, $28; 7. Cambridge, $30; 8. Wordvice, $48; 9. Editage, $58; and 10. ProofreadingPal (PP), $28.


2. Best proofreading offers based on Speed and Convenience. Most editing service companies provide 24-7 service. They also have a minimum of a 12-hour turnaround service, which is a premium service that comes at a slightly higher price. 


Also, remember that the price of proofreading changes according to turnaround time. The quicker the turnaround time, the higher the price you have to pay. The table shows the different turnaround times for five thesis editing service companies. 


Table 2. Price according to the turnaround time for five editing service companies


Company Name

1 Week 

72 Hours

48 Hours

24 Hours

10 Hours

12 Hours

3 - 4 hours

Cambridge Proofreading

$22.90

23.90

25.90

28.90

NA

37.90

NA

Proofreading Pal

$20

$23

$24.70

$32.30

$36.10

NA

$65.55

Paper True

$29

$32

$34

$44

NA

$58

NA

Scribendi

$37.21

$116.53

$69.71

$46.92

NA

$55.64

$82.71

Scribbr

$42

$51

NA

$59

NA

NA

NA

3. Best editing  based on Customer Satisfaction. For customer service, looking at the Trustpilot rating is ideal. The average Trustpilot rating was 4.6 out of 5, with none of the proofreading  scoring below 4.2.

This suggests that customers are normally happy with their editing . We can conclude that there is no major difference between the various proofreading service companies in terms of factors such speed, customer satisfaction, quality, and price.


4. Best proofreading  based on resource support. Besides proofreading , other factors you might consider are the resources offered by an editing company. These are resources that answer questions related to how to conduct academic writing.


A good example of an editing company that provides useful resource support would be Scribbr. Here at EminentEdit, with our blog, we also try our best to provide you with the resources that you need to understand and improve your academic writing. 


4. Hiring a personal editor to edit your thesis 


A personal editor is in the ideal position to edit your thesis. By personal professional editor, I mean someone who offers proofreading  under their own name.


That person could be a solopreneur with a professional website, which you could use to contact them for their . It could also be someone who has been recommended to you because of their past work for others.


Take me for example. I worked for more than five years for a number of professional proofreading . In that period, I edited more than five million words! I now offer my proofreading  through my website, EminentEdit


Advantages of buying personal proofreading 


1. A personal editor is more reliable. This is especially true if you acquired one through recommendations, this would mean that they have a history of doing good work.


2. A personal proofreader can provide more personalized . Unlike with a proofreading company, which prohibits direct communication with their freelance proofreaders, you can communicate directly with a personal proofreader. Such communication can lead to deeper understanding between editor and client.


3. Personal proofreaders have more time. Unlike anonymous freelance proofreaders who have to speed through thousands of words, a personal proofreader often works at a much slower pace. 

This results in two advantages. It reduces the chances of errors. And it gives the editor more time to understand the unique challenges of your thesis manuscript.



Final thoughts on thesis editing 


Professional editing  for your thesis or any other academic document offer several advantages. These advantages boil down to saving you time and money and even making you a better writer. 


Editing your thesis by yourself can work. But you have to be a good enough writer, and you should make sure you have enough time, skill, and experience.


If you choose professional proofreading , there are three choices:


  1. Buying AI editing software

  2. Using a proofreading company

  3. Hiring a personal proofreader


All three options have their benefits. Here's a summary of each approach.


1. Using editing software by itself is the least efficient. That is because a tool is only as good as the person who uses it. If you don’t have English writing or proofreading expertise, you may be wasting money on such a choice.


2. Editing companies are a safe bet. Editing  from proofreading companies are generally affordable, professional, and reliable. This is because much of the work is carried out by highly trained and expert freelance editors.


They are an excellent option if you have limited time and budget. However, their impersonal or factory assembly-line approach to editing may mean that your thesis does not get the personalized attention and unique value that it deserves.


3. Personal editing  are the ideal option. Personal editing are teh ideal option. Editing companies may have more resources and may even be cheaper.


However, the opportunity to communicate face-to-face or person-to-person with a professional editor can give you more confidence and a better experience overall. Talking directly with an editor means that your editor gets a chance to appreciate the unique value of your thesis. 


The Italian novelist Umberto Eco said, “Your thesis is like your first love. It will be difficult to forget. In the end, it will represent your first serious and rigorous academic work, and this is no small thing." 

Working directly with a professional editor provides a perfect opportunity to treat your manuscript like your "first love."

. . .


Frequently asked questions


1. Can I use Grammarly to edit my thesis?


Grammarly wasn’t designed for editing academic writing optimally. The software is excellent for professional writing, such as business emails and blogs. However, for research writing, it would be best to rely on proofreading software optimized for academic writing, such as PerfectIt, Scribendi AI, and Scribbr’s AI proofreader.


Lastly, it should aslo be remembered that a tool is as good as the person using it. Proofreading software is best used by someone who has a high level of English skills to begin with. Without the proper editing or proofreading skills, proofreading software may not give you the results you desire. 


For the time being, proofreading software is best used in conjunction with a professional proofreader. They are by no means a substitute for a professional.


2. Can I use ChatGPT to edit my thesis? 


ChatGPT can, ofcourse, be used to edit your thesis. However, you might not want to do that. This software has not been optimized for academic editing and proofreading. Professional proofreading and editing software designed and trained specifically for academic writing should be used  to edit your thesis.


3. What is the difference between proofreading and editing ?


In short,, there is no clear difference between proofreading and editing  regarding the type of proofreading  offered by proofreading companies. However, in the pricing and categorization of proofreading companies, proofreading usually means  where a manuscript requires fewer corrections per 1000 words, whereas editing  are reserved for manuscripts that require a much higher rate of corrections per 1000 words.


In short, editing refers to  for manuscripts that need more work before being good enough for publication or submission, whereas proofreading  refer to editing on manuscripts that are closer to being published or submitted. Editing  categorized in this way are usually priced lower. 


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