Thesis editing

Most students spend at least three years on their PhD research, and the intense focus means they become experts on their topics. Unfortunately, that focus also means they can be too close to their work to pick up problems in their writing, despite (sometimes due to) many drafts and revisions.

Often the problem is clarity of expression, but sometimes the logical flow or the structure isn’t quite right; in other cases, minor errors – in spelling, punctuation, mentions of Figures and Tables, numbering, citations and references, etc. – detract from the thesis. These deficiencies make the examiner’s job much harder. No matter how strong the actual research, a thesis that is difficult to read will be marked harder than one that is well-structured and contains concise and clear expression.

This, of course, is where I can help. Editing and proofreading English-language PhD theses is my bread and butter. I’ve edited theses in the following disciplines:

Accounting, anthropology, archaeology, architecture, art history, ballistics, biochemistry, biology, Buddhist studies, business studies, climate science, computer science, design theory, dietetics, drug policy, economics, education, engineering (chemical, civil, electrical), entomology, epidemiology, ethics, ethnography, fatigue management, film theory, game theory, gender studies, geography, geomatics, historiography, information systems, information technology, international development, law, management theory, marketing, materials science, medicine, microbiology, microfluidics, music theory, nanotechnology, nursing, parasitology, planning, physiology, psychology, public health, public policy, radiography, robotics, science and technology studies, sexual health, sociology, theology, tourism, veterinary science, web design.

No matter your discipline, I can help make your thesis flow smoothly and convey your ideas clearly and effectively, allowing you to submit your thesis with confidence and get on with your post-PhD life!

Editing theses is different to editing other academic material. Students must remain responsible for the key elements of their work, so editors must limit their input and provide feedback carefully. When editing a thesis, I follow the Australian Institute of Professional Editors’ Guidelines for editing research theses. The Guidelines outline the extent and nature of editorial services applicable to research students’ work; the 2019 update was recently endorsed by the Australian Council of Graduate Research.

In essence, the Guidelines state that professional help with thesis editing should be restricted to minor aspects of the thesis. The structure of your argument (and of course, the content) is up to you; I can help with grammar, spelling, expression, punctuation, formatting and so on, and point out other problems I think need attention. I use Word’s comments and track changes functions – comments for issues of structure and content, track changes for everything else.

Academic editing in general

My academic editing credentials are extensive. As a scientist I’ve published 123 peer-reviewed journal articles and produced well over 100 conference presentations, and written or co-authored successful NHMRC and ARC grants. As a professional academic editor I’ve worked on dozens of PhD and Masters theses, as well as successful ARC grant and fellowship applications, articles in refereed journals, and research reports. I’ve received many testimonials from happy academics and students.

Academic editing is about ensuring that concepts are conveyed in a clear and efficient way. Many people use far too many words to express their ideas, reducing both efficiency and clarity. In the academic world, where journal articles can be limited to 3,000 words and sections of grant applications to 500 characters, every unnecessary word hinders your ability to describe your work. If you struggle with wordiness, I can help.

Campbell Aitken

Comments are closed.