Dissertation and thesis proofreading - ensuring clear communication
information for students
information for supervisors
Can you use a professional proofreader?
Most (but not all) universities allow students to use professional proofreaders, and they have clear ethical guidelines about what they can and cannot do. This is to ensure that your work is still your own work. You are advised to check your own university policies and talk to your supervisor before you approach a proofreader.
What does proofreading involve?
Strictly speaking, ‘pure’ proofreading is restricted to detecting last-minute errors, with intervention only where absolutely necessary. It would be more accurate to refer to what I offer as ‘proof-editing’. My role is to ensure you are communicating your work clearly. For instance, if your first language is not English, your sentence constructions may sound awkward to the native English speaker. Even if you are a native English speaker, your style might be less ‘academic’ than it could be; or you might have a tendency to use unnecessarily complicated language. I can help with all these things.
Working from the final version of your Word document, I check for spelling/grammatical errors, and internal inconsistencies in formatting and references/cross-references. I also ‘sense-check’ your work: are there any long, unwieldy sentences, and does the argument ‘flow’ logically? For some of these issues, I can suggest changes using ‘track changes’; for others (according to your institution’s policies), I can highlight where issues arise and what the issues are, but you would need to determine for yourself if and how to address them.
What does proofreading not involve?
For ethical reasons I cannot fact-check your work. (This includes your reference list!) Nor would I get involved in major structural or content edits.
Why hire me?
I know what I'm doing: in addition to a lot of experience proofreading colleagues' and students' work, I have undertaken formal proofreading training with the Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading (of which I am a member). I have also published my own research.
I care! When I worked in academia, one of the most rewarding aspects of my job was supporting and supervising postgraduate students. I take pride in the quality of my own work, and will work hard to help you communicate your research clearly and unambiguously.
I am reliable: I will always deliver on time, and there won’t be any nasty surprises with the bill. (See my Rates for details.)
What to expect - and help me to help you!
Firstly, talk to your supervisor and check your institutional policy on proofreading. If I work for you, I will ask you to sign a declaration stating that your supervisor has authorized you to obtain proofreading support.
I will ask to see a representative chapter first. From this we can negotiate the level of intervention I will provide, and I will tell you what my rate will be for the job. I may also ask you to contribute to and approve a style template which I will use to ensure your work is consistently presented. (Nothing scary - it will cover things like capitalization of bullet points, and choices of spelling where variants exist.)
Please bear in mind that I may have several projects on the go at once. I would usually require at least two weeks to work on your dissertation or thesis. You should also build in sufficient time after that, before you submit, to consider and action the changes I suggest. (In other words, please don’t leave it all until the last minute!)
Why recommend me?
I worked in a university for nine years, during which I supported many postgraduate students and supervised doctoral students. I have also undertaken formal proofreading training with the Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading, of which I am a member. I have also published my own research. Perhaps more importantly, I care! I take pride in the quality of my work, I won’t let your student down, and I will be hoping to get repeat business from you, their supervisor.
Whilst my ‘client’ is ultimately the student, I will be seeking their explicit confirmation that you have authorized them to use my services. I encourage you to discuss with them exactly the level of support/intervention they should be seeking, in light of (a) support/guidance they have available from other sources; (b) the time frame available to them before they submit; and (c) your institutional policy on third-party proofreaders.
I will usually proofread a sample of a few pages of the student’s work, as part of our early negotiations. I am happy for them to show this to you, if you would both find this helpful.