How much does dissertation editing cost?

Avatar by Brendan Brown | March 17, 2021, 4:29 am

One of the choices when writing a dissertation is whether or not to hire a dissertation editor. You may know fellow students or friends who have used editing services before and recommended them to you.

Not all students do this, but many choose to.


Here are some of the reasons students give for hiring a dissertation editor:

  • Although they feel confident about their dissertation topic and their research, they do not feel as confident in their academic writing
  • The time limits involved in working on a dissertation make it difficult to also concentrate on the quality of the writing
  • They value the skills of a professional in this area
  • They are still uncomfortable with some of the conventions of academic writing, referencing and formatting
  • Why not submit your work in the best possible condition?

Let us imagine that you have decided to take the plunge and use a professional editing service. As with any purchase, one of the questions most of us ask is – what does it cost?

Students, in particular, often have limited financial resources, so cost is important. As writing a dissertation is not something we do very often, nor something that everyone does, it is not something that most of us cannot clearly place a price value on.

This article provides you with a guide to understanding what dissertation editing can cost, and what services you may receive for your money.

As with many purchases today, we’ll compare the online prices. However, it also a good idea to check with your university writing center or any student support center to see if they offer or recommend any editing services.

Before jumping into looking at the costs of dissertation editing, the first point to be clear about is that dissertation editing and its costs differ from other forms of editing.

Who are you?

Editors and editing companies work with a range of clients – students and academics (professors), authors, and a very wide range of business and professional clients, from blue-chip companies to YouTube entrepreneurs.

They also typically charge different rates for each group, as the writing content differs, which in turn creates diverse editing needs. So, when you begin to search for the cost of editing your dissertation, make sure that you are searching for the right type of editing and editor: dissertation or thesis editing, or academic editing.

Academic editing can be more expensive than more general editing as it is more specialized. An editor cannot check out your citations unless she is familiar with the specific system, right?

Your work will be helped by an editor who has specific knowledge of both your subject area and the writing conventions of that discipline. Even the use of language within your field may differ from others. You may also feel more comfortable working with an editor who has specialized knowledge in your content area. Particularly, if you are seeking editing help to go beyond proofreading, and into improving your writing, an editor who understands your discipline may be a wise choice.

Many academic editing services provide such a service and employ a range of discipline specialists to edit differ subject matters. This is not limited to the higher cost editing providers. Many of the more economically priced services provide specialized editors too.

However, it is probably generally true to say that the higher-priced services employ editors with higher levels of qualification and experience. Whether or not that is necessary or worth the extra cost is a question you need to answer yourself.

So, what does it cost?

Like many services, there are a huge range of offerings and prices available. Some services focus on affordability, others on speed, others again on their academic credentials.

As a starting point, the table below provides a range of editing costs for dissertations of different lengths, with the editing completed in a turnaround time of 7-days. The price ranges given are based on online price quotations from 10 of the more popular online editing services across the spectrum of pricing and services available at the time of writing.

Dissertation length10,000 words50,000 words
Cost range (in USD)$205 - $1100$882 - $4620

As you can see, there is a very wide range of prices.

So, how do you decide? Begin by looking at the services provided and the likely quality of that service, and try to match this with your budget and editing requirements.

What services do you need?

When thinking about getting your dissertation ready for submission, which of the following do you think you will need:

  • Are you looking for someone to correct grammatical inaccuracies in your work (sometimes called proofreading)?
  • Are you looking for someone to correct grammatical inaccuracies in your work, and improve on your writing (sometimes called editing)?
  • Are you looking for someone to correct grammatical inaccuracies in your work, and improve on your writing using a deep knowledge of your content and discipline, and be available to discuss the edits with you, and make re-edits based on this discussion (sometimes called advanced editing)?

As you can imagine, the workload of the editor will be quite different depending on whether they are asked to perform proofreading, editing, or advanced editing. They also may need a greater degree of knowledge or experience for certain tasks. Unsurprisingly, the cost can differ greatly as a result of the increased or more specialized work requirements.

Global English Editing, for example, has two levels of services with different pricing.

GEE dissertation editing servicesCost for 10,000 word dissertation editing (USD)

At the other end of the scale, Elsevier’s Author Services provides two different levels of service for PhD thesis editing for the prices given below.

Elsevier’s Author ServicesCost for 12001 word PhD thesis editing (USD)
PhD editing$500
PhD editing plus$1390

These two companies are not mentioned as recommendations per se but are rather given here as examples of how, at both lower and higher cost ranges, editors provide different levels of service to the client for different price tags. What this means is that it is alongside the consideration of choosing a specific company or editor, thought also needs to be given the type of editing package a dissertation requires.

Not all editors use the terms proofreading, editing, advanced editing or premium editing in the same way. So, it is important that customers confirm the details of what each company, editor or editing package provides.

What is your timeframe?

This is important to think about and should be considered earlier rather than later. Firstly, the more time you have, the more thought you can give to choosing an editing company or editor, to shopping around to find the right service for you.

Turnaround time can have an impact on price. As students are often working hard on their dissertations right up until the deadline for submission, this has created a situation where there is a market for editing completed within a very short space of time.

You will see many companies offering pricing for 24-hour, 48-hour, 72-hour and one-week turnaround times. There are even companies offering 3-hour editing services, though obviously not for something as long as a dissertation!

The shorter turnaround times come with a higher price tag. As an example, one popular economically priced company, Scribendi, charges the following rates for editing a 10,000 word dissertation: 316.77 USD for a one-week turnaround, 329.16 for a 72-hour turnaround, and 349.47 for a 48-hour turnaround.

Although some editing companies will accept very short turnaround times, it is wise to allocate a minimum of at least a week, preferably longer, for dissertation editing. Most companies and editors will not be able to manage documents of typical dissertation length in a few days.

Allocating a longer timeframe also means that you will not need to pay a time-based premium for the editing work. If you are paying for a ‘premium’ editing service, you should also allow time for re-editing if it is a service offered with your editing contract.

Not all companies following this approach, so it will be important to check this specifically when confirming price with an editor. Global English Editing, for example, does not charge extra for short turnaround times, allowing you to request a short time frame without paying a higher fee.

Understanding the pricing systems

Unfortunately, it is not initially easy to compare the prices and services of editors and companies. The manner in which they present the costs of their services varies widely: fixed costs per word, per page, per hour, lower costs as word count increases, quotations given after submission of writing and more!

Let’s take a look at some of the main pricing systems.

Per word, per page, per 10000 words

Seeing dissertation costs listed in these different ways is not unusual. However, there is actually not much difference between these three systems.

You are being charged a certain cost based on the length of your work, which in the case of a dissertation, is typically quite long! It is quite easy to work out the cost of editing your work. Many company websites provide an easy to use calculator so that you can work out the total cost.

One cost factor to remember to inquire about is whether or not there is a discount provided for longer work. It is not unusual for some editing companies to change a certain rate, for example for the first 10,000 words, and then lower rates for writing beyond this length. In some cases, this can be a significant reduction, meaning the overall cost will not be as expensive as you might imagine when you see the price for the first 10000 words.

Per hour

A per hour cost is more commonly offered by individual editors than companies. The logic of this approach is that the amount and difficulty of editing varies across the writing of individuals. By working on a fixed hourly cost, the editor can ensure that they get paid for their efforts, whatever writing project they are working on.

From a costing perspective, the possible downside to choosing this option is that it may not be possible to know what the exact cost of editing your dissertation will be until completion (unless it is an editor who agrees to a fixed number of hours from the outset).

The editor may give an estimate of the number of hours required, or some may offer to do a small section of editing work for you as a paid sample before you commit to asking them to edit your full dissertation. This would give you an idea of the type of editing they will do for you. It may also allow you to roughly estimate the total cost of the editing process from the work done during the sample contract time.

Remember that a price comparison alone does not tell the whole story – it needs to be accompanied by an understanding of the editing services provided.

Why are some prices quite high?

Alongside employing highly qualified editors and editing all aspects of your writing, many of the more expensive editing options include the option for re-editing (in some cases, unlimited re-editing).

This means that you have the chance to work with the editor, to read through their feedback and editing, to ask questions, and make further requests. If you feel this would be valuable for you, it could be one reason to look at the more ‘premium’ editing packages as against the more standard options.

Are there any cheaper options?

Yes, there may be. You may find students at your university who provide editing services, or online freelancers who offer their services at lower rates. As there are now no global boundaries to finding an editor, individuals in countries with lower living costs can often offer their services at significantly lower rates.

Online freelancing websites such as Upwork and Fiverr can connect you with freelance editors globally. A quick search will show a huge range in the costs of editing services – some very cheap and some very expensive!

However, if you do choose to use a freelance editor, remember to pay attention to their portfolio of work and any customer feedback that is available.

With a larger editing company, you can have a good degree of confidence that they will provide a good level of service, as this is necessary for them to continue to do business. While a freelancer can of course provide a quality service, the client has a greater degree of responsibility in choosing the ‘right’ freelance editor.

As you can see, there are many easily accessible editing companies and individual editors that can cater to a variety of budgets. Editing today is thankfully not only an option for wealthy students but has become more affordable.

Hopefully, this article has given you a good place from which to make some decisions about your dissertation.

Good luck on your road to submission!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *