‘How do I find a dissertation editor?’ Your 3 best options

Avatar by Brendan Brown | March 17, 2021, 4:27 am

As you work on your dissertation, you may decide that you would like the assistance of a professional editor to help you prepare your research for submission.

The demands of graduate school and research are very high, and this, unfortunately, means that many students are unable to devote time to improving their own academic writing.

This is where dissertation editors come in.

This article will take you through three of the most commonly used routes for finding an editor. They are:

  • Finding an editor through ‘local’ contacts (through your academic community or university)
  • Finding an editing company through an online search
  • Finding a freelance editor.

If you spend a few minutes now having a quick look on the internet, you will see that there are a lot of editing companies advertising online. These editing services provide a range of editing packages, and the prices charged can vary a great deal.

As such, the question then changes somewhat from how do I find a dissertation editor and becomes how do I find the best dissertation editor for me?

Let’s find out.

1. Finding an editor through ‘local’ contacts

As with many things in modern life, we are often spoiled for choice.

Although you may not yet know it, they are quite a lot of dissertation editors out there. This is a positive for those seeking an editor – competition in the industry means that editors need to provide a high level of work.

One of the avenues we can use to find suitable editing services is through our academic community – our classmates (included those who have already graduated), professors, student services organizations, and the wider university community.

Fellow students and graduated alumni are a great first place to begin your search. They tend to have similar writing concerns, and perhaps even price concerns (although this will vary according to individual circumstances).

If you are not in your final year, talk to students who are as they may be in the process of working with an editor. If you are already in your final year (the year of your dissertation submission), talk to your classmates, or reach out to recently graduated alumni.

Which editor did they use? Why did they choose that option? How was the experience? Do they recommend that editor?

Professors, teachers and campus organizations (the writing center if available, or student support-oriented offices and groups) may also be another good source of suggestions for dissertation editors.

If an editing service is connected with your university, that is usually a very good seal of approval! They will be aware of the needs of the students (you!) and will hope to maintain a good relationship with the university community. This means that they will likely strive to do a great job at a price point that matches your university’s student demographics.

You may also be a member of some associations related to your field of study. These associations may have information on editors who are particularly well versed in your area of study, and thus, very suitable candidates for editing your dissertation.

Different academic disciplines often have different conventions in how they use language. While most academic editors will be very capable of editing dissertations across different subject areas, advanced knowledge of the content is definitely advantageous.

2. Finding an editing company through an online search

In the digital age, online editing companies may be the best option for many students.

Perhaps the three main benefits of using an online company are:

  • You are not limited to choosing from those editors who are located physically close to you, so you have a much greater range of choice
  • As you can access companies all over the world who offer different types or levels of editing services, you can choose from a range of services and prices
  • If you are price-conscious, some online editing services which have lower overheads in their business are often able to provide editing services at lower costs to the customers.

The majority of editing companies today have an online presence. But where to begin?

Well, remember that editing is a service provided to a variety of clients, not only to students working on their dissertations. Corporate clients, novelists, job-seekers – there are many different types of customers who have a need for editing services.

What that means is that the customer should, from the beginning of the search, be specific about the type of editing needed. As with any product, using the right search teams can help you find the most appropriate dissertation editing service for you.

Typically, a student with a dissertation to be edited can begin their search using the following keywords:

dissertation editing, dissertation proofeading, thesis editing, thesis proofreading

While many of the larger editing companies do provide editing services for a wide range of needs (including dissertations), specifying this at the beginning of your internet search will ensure that your do not waste your time reading about editing companies that do not cater for academic student work, or for longer documents such as dissertations specifically.

To help you narrow down your search even further, the next step is to think about your requirements.  What are the most important considerations for you?

Some examples of these could be:

  • Price
  • Proofreading only
  • Advanced editing services
  • Academic conventions
  • English as a Second Language (ESL) issues
  • Short time frame

Let’s break these down further.


For many students, the cost of editing is a major consideration. Thankfully, the internet had created a situation where editing is now available at much more affordable costs and is a service that many students can take advantage of.

However, the price range is very wide, so specifically searching for cost-conscious options will help you. A quick survey of 10 companies providing dissertation editing services found a price range of $882 to $4620 US dollars for a 50,000 word thesis.

Adding some of these words to your search – affordable, budget, cheap, economical, reasonable, good value – will guide your internet search towards more economically priced options.

Proofreading only

If you are confident in your research and your writing, you may only want your dissertation proofread.

As this tends to be a more superficial approach  – mainly looking for errors in your writing  – you will want to search for either proofreading services specifically, or basic or standard editing packages.

This will help to ensure that you are not overpaying for other editing services that you do not need.

Advanced editing services

On the other hand, some students may be very concerned about their academic writing and really want a deeper level of editing and feedback on their dissertation writing.

Many editing companies will provide this type of service, often as an ‘advanced’ or ‘premium’ service, and charge customers a higher rate for this type of editing. Simply reading carefully through the editing services offered on a company’s website will direct you to the most advanced services.

Using search terms such as heavy editing, detailed editing, and advanced editing will help too.

Academic conventions

You may have a very specific concern about your writing, such as your usage of the citations and references in your dissertation or thesis, how to follow the style guidelines of your discipline (e.g., APA, Chicago, MLA).

You can specifically ask an editor or editing company to check your work for this single issue alone. You may also be able to find an editor or ‘package’ that specializes in addressing this issue.

English as a second language (ESL) issues

Today, many international students are studying in English. If this is you, you may have some concerns about whether or not the English usage in your dissertation is ‘native-like’.

This is a rather specific type of editing, and some companies have specific services.

Short time frame

For some, time may be a major concern. Graduate programs can be very intensive, which means that it is often the case that students are working on their dissertations right down to the wire, until just before the submission deadline.

Thankfully, the editing industry has grown to accommodate this need, and many editing services can complete your dissertation edits in very short time frames.

Global English Editing, for example, provides short turnaround times at no extra cost. However, this is something that should be confirmed with each individual editor or company, as most services charge higher prices for these shorter time frames.

Remember that as your dissertation may be quite long, it will not be done in 3 hours! These very short time frames offered by some companies apply to shorter documents.

When time is a consideration, you can use the words ‘turnaround time’ in your search. Also, if you choose to work with an individual editor, rather than a company, be aware that they may not have space in their schedule to complete work on very short notice.

A company with a large staff of editors will be able to do this.

3. Finding a freelance editor

As well as searching for editing companies, there is also the option to directly hire an individual editor to work for you.

Today, freelancing is quite common and a lot of online services can help you to find dissertation editors. A quick search online for freelance editors will bring you to some freelancing website such as Upwork, Fiverr, and Freelancer. You can search through all the editors who are available for hire on each specific platform.

There are advantages and disadvantages to working directly with an individual editor and not a company. Some of the possible advantages are:

  • You get to directly choose the person (rather than just choosing the company) who will edit your work, and can establish a personal working relationship with them.
  • You may be able to see examples of the work done by this specific editor
  • See feedback about that specific editor’s work
  • It may be possible to find some very economically priced options

However, some of the possible disadvantages are:

  • The quality of freelances can vary significantly.
  • Although some freelancing websites do have certain checks on the freelance editors listed on their site, they do not train, manage or check the work of these editors
  • A freelance editor working alone does not have colleagues that can take over the editing work in the case of an emergency. This is something to be mindful of if you are working to a very tight deadline

Ethical editing

As a dissertation student, there is a good chance that you are now very familiar with the concept of ethics in research. However, you may not have considered its role in editing.

Well, just as we need to be careful not to plagiarize in our research work so that we can distinguish between ‘our own work’ and the research of others, our research writing is expected to be our own work. So, in this sense, editing cannot be writing or rewriting.

Unfortunately, there are a very small number of companies and individuals out there who will do this, so make sure to choose an editor or company that clearly understands and cares about academic integrity. Any offers to rewrite, paraphrase or ghostwrite your work should be a red flag. This is not what an ethically responsible editor will do for you.

Thankfully, the great majority of editing companies follow good ethical guidelines.

The internet had really opened up access to services such as dissertation editing. They are now more prevalent, affordable and more transparent in terms of the services provided.

For students deeply focused on understanding and doing dissertation-level research, using a dissertation editor removes some of the stress of the process. It also moves the student closer to submitting an excellent piece of research work.

By following of some of the options outlined in this article, you will be able to find an editor who can help you put the finishing touches to your dissertation.

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