PG Writing Group 21/05/12 Social Science South Rm 2204 Monday 12-1pm
As Werder and Hoelscher state in an article Editing Matters published last year in Higher Ed, “Editing – oh, whoop-de-do ”. But rightly so, they go on in their article to explain why the development of editing skills are important for postgraduate students and why it is important that theses are written to the highest standard possible. Evidence from Mullins and Kiley’s study of experienced thesis examiners also suggests that while examiners try not to be influenced by first impressions, they often decide very early in their examination the quality of a thesis. Poor editing and lack of attention to detail can contribute to a negative first impression.
Many students come to their studies with advanced academic writing and editing skills and are well prepared to write a polished thesis. Others develop them along the way through the support of their supervisor and, at UWA, workshops delivered by StudySmarter and the Graduate Research School can help. Others find support from their peers. Those who continue to find editing difficult may require the support of a professional editor.
Editing by professional editors is allowable at UWA provided it follows the policy determined by the National Council of Deans and Directors of Graduate Studies and the Institute of Professional Editors. If you’re thinking of engaging the services of an editor, read both the resulting Australian Standards for Editing Practice. Familiarise yourself with the role that professional editors take when editing a thesis – and understand what they can and can’t do for you. You should also obtain permission from your supervisor before you seek professional editing advice.
The extent and nature of the help editors offer is restricted to Section D (Language and Illustrations) and Section E (Completeness and Consistency) of the standards. While they can indicate problems in your work covered in Section C of the standards (Substance and Structure), they are not able to make corrections in these cases although they may provide examples. In simpler terms, professional editors proofread and copy edit. They mostly correct typographical, spelling, punctuation and grammatical errors, check for consistency in verb tenses, and suggest paragraphing changes. They can also check consistency in style and structure and make suggestion to improve and readability. They cannot make changes to content.
If you are considering having your thesis professional editing, you may want to consider the following questions & answers.
- How can I find a professional editor? The best editor for you may come from a word-of-mouth recommendation from someone within your discipline. So ask your supervisor and ask fellow students if they have used a professional editor and what did they think of them? Failing this, IPEd provide an online register of accredited editors. Given that professional editors are required to make their editorial suggestions on a hard copy of your thesis, it may be best to select an editor from the WA listing if you are looking for a fast edit.
- What should you look for? Experience in editing academic material, preferably in thesis editing. Preferably accredited by the IDEp. Rapid turn around (if this is what you need) and reasonable rates.
- What do you need to tell them? Accredited editors should be familiar with the CASE standards but check anyway. You need to be sure the editor you appoint understands the rules of thesis editing. Apart from discussing these rules, you may also want to talk about rates and editing times.
- What can I expect to pay? Editors will often charge per page. To give you a rough estimate of costs, one page, double spaced is about 260 words. For a 60,000 word thesis, this equates to about 230 pages. One editor I spoke to indicated he charged ~$5 per page for proofreading (which equates to just over $1000 for 60,000 words) and ~$7 per page for copy editing (~$1600 for the same length thesis). If the editor is advertising a per minute rate, I would ask them to edit a sample of your work, and from their costing determine an approximate per page rate. This should give you a ballpark figure of how much your entire thesis should cost. With some editors, you may be able to negotiate a set amount for the thesis.
- What do I say in my thesis? The name of the editor and the services rendered should be included in the thesis acknowledgements. If the editor’s area of academic specialisation is the same as the thesis, this should also be stated.
Institute of Professional Editors (IPEd)– the peak national body for Australian editors. See http://iped-editors.org/Editing_theses.aspx and Find an Editor. Australian Standards for Editing Practice can also be downloaded from the IPEd website.
Mullins and Kiley. 2002. ‘It’s a PhD, not a Nobel; Prize’: how experienced examiners assess research theses. Studies in Higher Education. 27(4): 369-386.
Werder and Hoelscher. 2011. Editing Matters. Inside Higher Ed January 14
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