editing-your-dissertationAre you dancing with joy because you have just completed the last page of your dissertation? Congratulations! Now you can relax for a while and prepare for effective dissertation editing. You are welcome to look through this editing checklist and discover little-known secrets of effective editing, shared by professional dissertation editors.

Dissertation editing: organization

The first question arising in the process of dissertation editing is: “Have I missed anything?” Here is a list of optional and mandatory elements to include in your thesis:

  • blank pages at the beginning and at the end of your project (for binding);
  • title page (page number does not appear on it);
  • abstract (about 350 words);
  • approval page (ask your supervisors to sign it in black ink after you print the final version);
  • dedication page (it is optional, but if you decide to include it, make it brief);
  • table of contents (requires page numbers for each chapter and should not be confused with an outline);
  • list of tables;
  • list of figures;
  • list of abbreviations and symbols;
  • body of thesis divided into chapters (page numbers start on the first page of the text);
  • appendices with titles;
  • references.

Dissertation editing: format

Another important issue you should tackle in the process of dissertation editing is related to format requirements:

  1. Body text should be left-aligned;
  2. ALL web links should be tested to ensure they are correct and still valid;
  3. each heading should have either no subheading at all, or at least two of them;
  4. each headibg should have at least two lines of text below it;
  5. ALL direct quotes should have a page number (if you cite the text exactly as it is, make certain to include a page number);
  6. ALL entries in references should appear in correct alphabetical order.

Dissertation editing: a checklist for logic

After you have properly organized and formatted your text, you may proceed to an even more serious part of dissertation editing, namely the revision of ideas and style. Here is a checklist for your argumentation:

  • Find the thesis statement and test it. Is it stated clearly? Does the body of the paper develop it? If not, what can be done to match the thesis statement with the body text?
  • Are there any serious fallacies in the argumentation?
  • Are paragraphs adequately developed? Is the purpose of each paragraph clearly stated at the beginning? Are there good transitions between different ideas?
  • Does the introduction offer the background for the study? Does the conclusion remind what the thesis statement is?


Dissertation editing: grammatical deadly sins

After improving the logic and argumentation, continue dissertation editing and check your thesis for any of these grammatical deadly sins:

  1. Sentence fragments. E.g. “Some of the students working on dissertations last week.” – this fragment misses a verb.
  2. Run-on sentences (two independent clauses which are not properly connected). E.g. These two clauses are independent, a comma will not work here. – Wrong! This is a run-on sentence. You should use a period (.), a semicolon (;), a conjunction (and, but, for, or, so) or a transitional expression (however, moreover, nevertheless) between such clauses. Correct: A comma will not work here, because these two clauses are independent.
  3. Subject-verb agreement. The rule is simple: use verbs in singular form for singular subjects and verbs in plural form for multiple (plural) subjects. E.g. My mother is a doctor. My brothers are managers. Note that there are some nouns that have the -s ending, but require a verb in singular: The news is bad. Measles is a dangerous disease.
  4. Faulty parallelism. Make sure to use similar constructions to express similar ideas in one sentence.
    E.g. My income is smaller than my sister has. Wrong! Correct: My income is smaller than my sister’s. In summer, fall or in winter… Wrong! Correct: In summer, fall or winter.

Dissertation editing: check confusable words

Here is a list of words which are frequently confused. Find and double-check them:

its it’s (avoid contracted forms in a thesis)
accept except
access excess
adopt adapt
advice advise
a lot allot
break brake
decent descent
dessert desert
effect affect
ensure insure
heroine heroin

Dissertation editing: practical hints

Professional dissertation editors recommend the following tips for effective editing:

  • Create favorable conditions - leave the chapter you are going to edit on the desk. You are more likely to start manuscript editing earlier if you do not need to dig into your files to find the necessary document.
  • Plan your editing sessions reasonably. Note that thesis editing can be as tiresome and time-consuming as thesis writing. 5-6 hours would be enough for a single editing session.
  • Do not be afraid of not following the order of chapters when editing your dissertation for the first time. You may either proofread the chapters one by one or skip some of them and return to them later. However, make certain to proofread each chapter at least one time and to check the transitions between chapters. Remember that your dissertation should flow rather than hop from stone to stone.

As you see, this quick guide contains not only helpful hints, but also practical recommendations and valuable information that can hardly be found anywhere else on the Internet. You may use it to have your dissertation edited relatively quickly and with ease.