Special student rate: $60 per hour (50% off the standard rate)

I like editing theses (it’s a great challenge) but I respect that students can rarely afford full editing rates. If you’ve sent me a query about editing your thesis, I’ll likely direct you to this page so that you can make an informed decision about whether I’m right for you. I find it useful to go into detail, so that you understand the process and costs.

Overview

  • The unavoidable consideration with your thesis is that it’s long – it’s probably book length – and that means my work takes time.
  • An excellent rule of thumb is 15-20 minutes per 1000 words, plus a bit of time for project management, communication and creating resources like style sheets (a record of the consistency applied to your work).
  • That is, if your thesis is 80,000 words, it will take me around 25 hours to work through it. If you consider this more closely, that’s 3 solid days to read your work, find and fix mistakes, improve grammar, make comments where relevant, check and advise on references, and tackle a host of other tasks (see below). The pace is about 3 minutes a page, which is rapid for making a meaningful contribution to a complex, book-length work.

Potential costs

  • 60,000 words = about 20 hours @$60 per hour = $1200
  • 80,000 words = about 25 hours @$60 per hour = $1500
  • 100,000 words = about 30 hours @$60 per hour = $1800
  • These costs are competitive against other professional editing services, and lower than the average rate for editorial work in Australia (i.e. discounted for students). That said, you will find editors that will quote cheaper rates.
  • I understand that students have limited budgets and perhaps only partial funding for editorial work. As such, I cap my quotes at about the hours you see here. If the work takes longer, I absorb the extra time. (Invariably, the work takes longer.) If it takes less time (this has never happened, but you can be the first), I only charge for time spent.
  • I say ‘about’ in the costs because I need to see your work before making a final assessment. As an obvious example, English may not be your strongest language, in which case the work may be more complicated.

Guidelines for editing theses

  • Supervisors and students need to be clear about an editor’s role as well as their own responsibilities. Generally, students should seek permission from their supervisor to use an editor.
  • Editing for theses is conventionally restricted to copyediting and proofreading. That is, an editor generally won’t make improvements to the substance and structure of your work, which is after all your independent research. I can and will make comments about potential problems, but fixing these (if needed) is always up to you.
  • It’s important that I work on your final ‘draft’ manuscript, and not chapter by chapter. It’s far easier and safer to apply consistency to an entire document, rather than progressively.
  • All copyediting and proofing is done with tracked changes, and it’s up to the student to accept (or reject) any changes. This preserves the independence of your work. This also means that the copyediting process makes substantial review work, and you should factor this into your timeframes.
  • Working in tracked changes can hide mistakes in a document (e.g. extra spaces or orphan letters that are hard to spot when a document is in review). These are often solved by a simple but thorough spellcheck, once all tracked changes have been removed. Again, students should add this task to their workflow.
  • Another task students should consider is a final proofread in print by a third party (perhaps a friend or relative). This is because we all process information in context, and once we’re familiar with a document, it’s very hard to spot the final few mistakes (or even sometimes large, obvious mistakes). You’re already overly familiar with your work. After I’ve done 25 hours, I’m also overly familiar with it. The best solution is to let an independent party look over the final submission, just in case.

Copyediting and proofreading tasks

I’m yet to work on a thesis that does not contain thousands of minor things that need editorial attention. This is the advantage of working with a professional academic editor – I know what to look for and fix. For example:

  • Line by line copyediting to all text, with tracked changes
  • Consistent capitalisation in headings, tables and terminology
  • Consistent treatment of numbers
  • List punctuation and parallel structure
  • Common grammar problems with (difficult) punctuation like semicolons and dashes
  • Consistent spelling and hyphenation according to an agreed dictionary
  • Advice on citations and references
  • Feedback on language and tone, with comments if there are problems
  • Comments on idiomatic style use (e.g. long, run-on sentences or misused punctuation)
  • Consistent formatting where required
  • Autogenerated tables for contents for sections, lists and figures where required
  • Comments on any problems

Resources

As an IPEd Accredited Editor, I follow the Institute of Professional Editors Guidelines for editing research theses (PDF). It’s useful reading for students.

Next steps

If you’ve read this page and you’re ready to take the next step, I look forward to working with you. If you want to know more about what it’s like to work with me, read some testimonials, as that’s the experience you’ll have.