What is Dissertation Editing?

Find our more about dissertation editing, types of editing, and how the process works.

For graduate students preparing to defend their dissertations, the light at the end of the tunnel may seem dim. They've obsessed over their dissertations for hours, days, weeks. They've poured their blood, sweat, and tears into their masterpiece. They've stared at their computer screen until the words are a mere blur. And they're not done. They may opt to hire an editor for their dissertation.

What is dissertation editing?

Dissertation editing the process of reviewing a graduate dissertation to improve in specified areas. Some dissertations need proofreading while others need line editing. There are many different types of editing and a lot of ambiguity around the definition and complexity of those types of editing. I'll dive into those below.


Dissertation editing should always be done ethically. That means, no one else should conduct the research for the dissertation, write the dissertation (in part or in whole), or edit without the explicit approval of the committee chair.

What are the differences in editing?

Editing is a general term for reviewing a work. The focus of editing and the exact terminology varies greatly. For example, I edit dissertations, blogs, newsletters, whitepapers, websites, and other pieces. When I edit them, I am looking for specifics based on the type of editing I'm doing. The image below gives a general idea of the different types of editing with the reminder that all editors or editorial groups agree on the definitions. Explanations are listed below.


In general, proofreading is one of the last steps, but it is essential. It's looking at errors in mechanics, usage, grammar, and spelling. It includes things like making sure the commas are in the correct place.

Line editing

Line editing is more comprehensive and is done earlier. It includes looking at each line for syntax, structure, flow, cohesion, and more. It's comprehensive and what many dissertation authors need.

Other types of editing

Copyediting--looking at the printed draft (the final copy) for errors. This is the last look before print. Fact checking/research--checking facts and research, including format. Sensitivity--assessing inclusivity, equitability, and language. While there are other types of editing, I find that proofreading and line editing are the most necessary forms of editing for dissertations.

How does dissertation editing work?

After editing many dissertations, I have created a simple but effective process. Once contracts are signed:

  1. Author completes tasks (answer questionnaire, complete contract, and make payment).
  2. My team and I get the author set up in our project-management space (complete with video instructions).
  3. Author uploads draft per our discussion (in chapters or as a whole piece).
  4. Editor edits and sends back for review (complete with questions if any).
  5. Author sends back any questions or concerns (essentially another round of edits).
  6. Editor responds and returns draft back to author.
  7. Upon completion, author completes tasks (answers questionnaire and makes recommendations).

Finally, the author successfully defends the dissertation and celebrates!

If you or someone you know needs a dissertation editor, contact me today!

Categories: editing