Read Write Perfect

Written By Jennifer Harrison

Should You Hire an Academic Editor for Your Final Dissertation Draft?

quote against a background of edited text.

You may be wondering whether it’s really worth the extra time and expense to hire an academic editor for your final dissertation draft.

By the time you reach the stage of researching and writing your dissertation, you are already a pretty good writer. You have kick-ass ideas, a fascinating thesis, and a thorough understanding of your field. You have probably spent months—if not years—on original research.

At this point, it may seem like a waste of time and money to go through the extra step of professional copyediting. However, a professional editor is absolutely a necessity—for four good reasons:

  1. A fresh pair of eyes will catch mistakes that you might have missed

  2. A few misplaced commas can negatively impress your committee

  3. Professional copyediting will improve your writing skills

  4. Professional copyediting is an investment in your wellbeing

A fresh pair of eyes will catch mistakes that you might have missed.

After spending weeks and months pulling your dissertation together, your brain will inevitably switch from “micro” to “macro” editing mode.

Man with magnifying glass.

In other words, you will naturally focus more on the big issues in your writing: the organization, the ideas, and the clarity, for example. When we become too close to our own texts, we become less capable of picking out fine details in expression, grammar, and formatting. At the same time, as we add detail, cut and paste text, and delete ideas, we may end up being less clear than we think we are.

A professional copyeditor will not have this problem. He/she will be seeing your text for the first time, and every comma, citation, and definition will be new to him/her. Copyeditors also have highly trained eyes and work to a system that enables them to focus on both minute details and the bigger picture. A copyeditor will read your text with fresh eyes and will catch the inevitable mistakes that you miss.

A few misplaced commas can negatively impress your committee.

After your article reaches your dissertation committee, they will read through several times while preparing for your oral exam.

Reviewing a dissertation is a time-consuming process, requiring the examiner to not only read and understand your work but also critique it, articulate any issues, and make suggestions for improvement.

It is easy to understand, therefore, why an examiner will be more favorably inclined towards a student whose beautifully copyedited work is clear, easy to read, and demonstrates a level of polish consistent with care, attention, and professionalism. Working with a copyeditor can remove the chances of your dissertation making a poor first impression.

Professional copyediting will improve your writing skills.

If you read through the comments, feedback, and changes made by your copyeditor (something you definitely should do, by the way), you will pick up some great tips on what good writing should look like.

A good editor will not only correct mistakes but will also provide explanations for frequently occurring errors or suggested changes. These will help you become a better writer as you move on from your dissertation to revision or other writing projects.

Professional copyediting is an investment in your wellbeing.

Academics shaking hands

Finally, however much we may all enjoy what we do, there is no denying that dissertation research is rigorous and demanding—there are never enough hours in the day.

To meticulously ensure that each apostrophe in a document is curly rather than straight, that the same line spacing is used after every sub-heading, and that the point raised in paragraph three really is summarized in the conclusion takes a considerable amount of time. So does making sure that every single one of those APA-style in-text citations matches up to a bibliographic reference correctly.

Think what you could do with those extra hours. You could take a nap. Bake a cake. Read a book. Go for a walk. Start your next job application. Give yourself a break, and hand the tedious work of final editing to someone else. It will make a huge difference to your levels of stress, your sense of contentment, and your overall wellbeing.

That’s worth it, right?