How to Choose a Dissertation Editor

October 05, 2021

Amy Vaughan-Roland, Ed.D.

Ed.D. in Leadership

You’ve pored over your dissertation until you feel as though your eyes can’t take in one more word. Is the spacing right? Did you follow APA? Is it to, too or two? This, my friends, is where an editor comes in.

Before your defense and publication, it’s crucial to work with a good editor who will help you ensure your writing is at its highest quality. Choosing the right editor is a big decision, so how do you know which one is the best choice for you?

Be Clear in Your Expectations

Not all editors are created equal. Some only check for surface edits, while others perform deeper line edits, checking everything from punctuation and grammar to format and flow. It is best to be very clear with your editor about your timeline and expectations for the editing experience. To best prepare for your eventual publication and defense, it’s best to opt for a full and comprehensive edit including spelling, grammar and style. You should contact an editor as soon as your dissertation chair recommends, as many book clients several weeks in advance. Make sure to allow yourself and your editor plenty of time to prepare your copy for your final IRB review. Get a written contract that shows exactly what you are hiring them to do to ensure they meet the precise standards you’re expecting.

Start Saving Early

Having a dissertation edited can cost anywhere from $600 to $2,000, and I was unprepared to cough up that chunk of change when the time came. So if you are early in the dissertation process, start saving now. I was very open with potential editors regarding the compensation I could offer, and I was able to set up a pay-as-you-go plan with the editor I chose. However, remember that you get what you pay for. I consider myself a very frugal person, but this wasn’t a time to skimp on the cheapest deal in town. I learned this firsthand from a colleague who hired a cheaper editor, only to be returned a paper that still needed hours of edits.

Find the Right Fit

When you present your paper to an editor, you are asking them to join your team to bring all your hard work to its final step. I spent over an hour on the phone with each potential editor because I wanted to ensure that they had my best interest at heart and that this was more than just a payout for them. I wanted an editor who was ready to help me make my academic dream come true. My editor is a great communicator and is very clear about what she needs from me. With her help, I’ve been able to stick to a timeline that is reasonable yet rigorous. I truly feel like she wants to see me succeed, and that makes for a great partnership.

Contracting an editor started out as a daunting step in the dissertation process, but it’s actually become one of my favorite parts. Now I feel like I have a paper that is ready to carry me through to the end of my doctoral journey!

At American College of Education, the writing of your dissertation is built into the course sequence of our doctoral programs. That means you’ll have the guidance, resources and hands-on support you need to successfully complete and defend your dissertation.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of American College of Education.
Amy Vaughan-Roland, Ed.D.
Amy Vaughan-Roland, Ed.D., Ed.D. in Leadership

Amy has a strong passion for educating all learners and has over 12 years of experience in special education. She works on her family's dairy farm and is currently a doctoral candidate.

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