Thesis Editing: What is It and Why Do You Need It?
- Jun 23, 2022
- 5 min read
Writing a thesis is hard work. As editors and proofreaders who review theses and dissertations every day, we are well aware of the dedication and passion researchers put into their work. We’re sure the work is stellar by this point, but there’s just one more step to the path of an immaculate project: thesis editing.
The truth is, you can’t hang your boots right after you finish writing. You’ve done most of the work for sure, but if you want your thesis to be the best version of itself, then you must invest some time in thesis editing. Whether you want to do it yourself or you’d rather let a professional take over, here’s everything you need to know before getting your thesis edited.
Why is thesis editing important?
Regardless of how careful you are about your writing process, a round of editing (multiple, in fact) is absolutely necessary. You may have written it in haste or meticulously, over months, but in either case, editing your thesis helps you refine your writing and eliminate language errors you might’ve missed previously.
Once you’ve done your cursory review, it’s also a good idea to hire a professional thesis editor to go over your work. As specialized experts, a thesis editor can provide you with in-depth feedback on the flow, coherence, and writing style of your thesis, as well as proofread and format your work according to university standards.
In essence, the editing process lets you and your editor take a step back to see if you’ve written a thesis that reads well to your evaluator and fellow researchers.
A thesis editor can make a huge difference in ensuring your thesis is not only ready for submission but that it is also one that is well written and easy to understand. They put their language expertise to use by helping you craft a thesis that does an accurate and effective job in communicating the results and relevance of your research.
The scope of thesis editing
Thesis editing addresses the minutiae of writing as well as the larger, organizational aspects of your work. Broadly speaking, the editing and proofreading process covers the following aspects:
- Language: This is the primary focus of proofreading. A thesis proofreader does a line-by-line review of your document, focusing on the mechanics and technical aspects of language. This includes grammar, syntax, punctuation, sentence structure, and spelling. The aim is to make sure your prose is error-free and easy to read.
- Formatting: An important component of academic writing is adhering to and maintaining specific formatting guidelines. Your university has probably prescribed a specific style guide that you need to follow, such as APA, MLA, or the Chicago Manual of Style. A thesis editor is usually knowledgeable in these various style sheets (or has specialized knowledge in some, based on what their discipline of expertise is) and will ensure your thesis adheres to this style.
- Writing style: Since it’s a specialized form of writing, academic writing comes with a specific set of conventions that ensures you present your research in a way that’s up to the standards of your university and the research produced in the field. A thesis editor will help you ensure your writing is up to the mark. For example, they may help you with refining your writing style to ensure it’s more formal: they may ask you to remove contractions, slang, colloquialisms, and so on.
- Coherence and clarity: All the hard work you’ve put into your thesis will come to light when the final report is coherent and clear about its purpose, scope, and your findings. An editor can help you ensure your thesis makes sense to whoever reads it. As language experts, they can not only point out places where your writing or arguments are unclear, but also provide you with constructive alternatives and solutions on how you can write to make your thesis more accessible to your evaluator and the research community.
- Structure: Apart from language and writing style, a thesis editor also reviews your thesis from a broader perspective. They take a bird’s-eye view of your document and, much like how a book editor would help structure the narrative of a novel, a thesis editor will help you refine the coherence, flow, and consistency of your thesis. They will also ensure that you have structured the thesis in the right order, beginning with the title page or abstract and ending with the reference list.
- Citations and references: Any academic paper is incomplete without proper citations and references. But we also know how tedious it can be to compile them. A thesis editor, using a combination of their expertise and AI support, can help you compile your reference section swiftly. As part of the editing process, they will also check that each in-text citation has a match in the reference list. They will also ensure your citations are properly formatted and the reference list is in the right order.
What should you look for in a thesis editor?
The difference between your friend editing a thesis and a professional thesis editor going over it is that the professional has expertise and the skills needed to make sure you submit an error-free thesis.
Here’s what you need to look for in a professional thesis editor:
- Subject matter knowledge: While most academic editors are equipped to edit documents across a variety of subjects, it’s always best to work with someone who has some knowledge of your discipline, even if they are not well-versed in your area of research specifically. There are several advantages to this: they understand the jargon you use, they are likely to have notes on how you can make vocabulary and concepts more accessible, and they’ll most probably have in-depth knowledge of the style guide you’ve been told to follow.
- Knowledge of style guides: Editors are usually familiar with common citation styles. If they regularly work on disciplines across many disciplines, they will also know how to adapt to new styles. As language experts, they also keep up with the latest news about academic style guides. Your ideal thesis editor should be well-versed in your citation style, someone who can work swiftly on the formatting and reference list.
- Knowledge of academic writing: Many first-timer researchers often struggle with adhering to the formal nature of academic writing. It’s easy to slip into casual writing when you’re not used to the rigidity of language generally seen in research papers. You may also struggle with figuring out how to structure your writing so your arguments are clear. A thesis editor will help you counter all these challenges and improve your overall writing style.
- Their editing niche: Even if an editor has subject knowledge and is familiar with the writing conventions of your discipline, they should have worked on theses in your discipline. Their niche and editing profile should match yours. Within academic editing, there are editors who specialize in editing styles suited for specific disciplines. For example, a psychology thesis editor will have more in-depth knowledge of APA citation styles than a statistics editor, while the latter will be more well-versed in formatting equations and graphs.
- Proof of experience: Before you hire a thesis editor, you should definitely make sure there’s proof that they can do the job well. Ask for their portfolio, if they have one. Look for reviews of their services, either on review platforms or through people in your network who may be familiar with their work. Find out more about their working style before you hire them.
How to choose a professional thesis editor?
There is an array of professional editing and proofreading companies to choose from. These factors can help you determine what’s the right pick for you.
- Pricing and rates: If thesis editing seems expensive, it’s only because your editors will look at all the aspects of editing that we’ve listed above. If you know you have to work on a thesis for your degree, start setting aside some money for editing. If you’re short on funds, you can also pick the levels of editing you need for your thesis. There are plenty of affordable thesis editing and proofreading services to choose from, and we’ve compiled a list of some of your best options here.
- Turnaround time: As an exhausted final year student, you’re probably writing the thesis in a rush. With all that rushing, you’re probably working on a pretty tight deadline too. So make sure you pick an editor who can do the job thoroughly while also returning the thesis in time. Professional editing companies usually offer turnaround times between a day and a week (some even take two weeks). Based on your budget and how much time you have, pick a turnaround time that will allow your editor to take a close look at your thesis.
- The editor’s niche: As we said earlier, your final draft becomes more focused, precise, and well-rounded when you work with an editor who has knowledge of your discipline. If your thesis has a lot of equations, for example, you want to work with someone who’s familiar with the symbols and formats you’re using! So do your research and pick an editor closest to your research area. If you’re going to be working with professional editing and proofreading company, see if you can request an editor in your field.
- Reviews and testimonials: Given how important a document your thesis is, you should vet editors before working with them. If you’re going with a professional editing company, look up testimonials on review platforms. Do a thorough inquiry about their service offerings and confidentiality policy. If you know anyone who’s availed of their services, find out more about their experience.
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Chetna is a child of the internet. A writer and aspiring educator, she loves exploring digital media to create resources that are informative and engaging. Away from the writing desk, she enjoys cinema, coffee, and old books.