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

It’s not an easy undertaking to edit a highly complex manuscript of 100,000 words while maintaining a high level of consistency throughout. Adam managed to do this, on budget, and on time. More importantly … I learnt a lot from Adam that can only stand me in good stead as an academic. 

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 have likely directed 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 frank detail, so that you understand the process and costs, and we can work together with clear expectations.

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 minimum rule of thumb is 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 100,000 words, it will take me around 35 hours to work through it. If you consider this more closely, that’s 4 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 quick.

Potential costs

  • 60,000 words = about 25 hours @ $60 per hour = $1500
  • 80,000 words = about 30 hours @ $60 per hour = $1800
  • 100,000 words = about 35 hours @ $60 per hour = $2100
  • These costs are highly competitive against other professional editing services, and lower than the average rate for editorial work in Australia (i.e. discounted). That said, you’ll find many editors that will quote cheaper rates.
  • I understand that students (and even professionals completing their studies) have limited budgets and perhaps only partial funding for editorial work. As such, I try to 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. For example, English may not be your strongest language, in which case the work may be more complicated.

Copyediting and proofreading tasks

I’m yet to work on a thesis that does not contain many minor details that need editorial attention. Read the Australian Style manual for authors, editors and printers if you’re wondering how that could be! Many changes you might not even notice, except that your work suddenly looks and ‘feels’ better. This is important, as consistent content fosters trust in your readers, often subconsciously. It also lightens their cognitive load, so that they can understand your work faster and more easily. This is the advantage of working with a professional academic editor.

  • 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

Guidelines for editing theses

  • 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 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 some review work for you – 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 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 copyedited it, I’m also overly familiar with it. The best solution is to let an independent party look over the final submission, just in case.

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. There’s also useful information on my rates and terms pages.