Thesis editing – what’s in and what’s out

As a professional academic editor, it’s my privilege to work on documents that PhD students have spent years carefully planning, researching and writing. It’s a big responsibility, and I don’t take it lightly. I think about the sacrifices those authors have made in their higher education journey – long hours at the desk, time away from family, declined social events, missed professional opportunities.

I try to remove some of the unknowns at this end of the long process of publishing a thesis. I always make sure everyone is on the same page (ha ha) by referring students to IPEd’s Guidelines for editing research theses . The guidelines rule out substantive editing for student work.

What does that mean?

  • I don’t make changes to the ideas in the paper.
  • I don’t fix problems with structure – but I do point them out.
  • The author must review each change – my track changes are suggestions only.
  • I don’t complete incomplete references – but I do point out the omissions.
  • The student must tell their supervisor their work is being edited.
  • The student should mention the editor in the acknowledgements section of the paper.

So what do I do?

Well, I copyedit or proofread, depending on what the paper needs.

Access Editing provides a comprehensive editing brief and quote before taking on any project – including a time line.

I’d be happy to assess your work. Email me at