Category Archives: thesis editing

Reflecting on 2021 as a self-employed academic editor

The second year of the COVID-19 pandemic and a long lockdown in Sydney in the second half of 2021 has been a time of reflection for many on work and work–life balance (and whether working from home helps or not). Editors are used to working efficiently from home offices but there was still a change.

Work life continued in my home office with email inquiries and the occasional more desperate phone call, but without the usual breaks away from the computer. Universities have been affected by COVID and funding reforms, but academics seemed to be even more productive, or have more recognition of the need and value of editing. I edited student theses that were clearly affected by the COVID pandemic in various ways from data collection to challenges to wellbeing. Research continues to be important, and I am pleased to be able to contribute to the dissemination of high quality research.

My ongoing work in voluntary roles on IPEd’s Pay Rates Working Party and Standing Committee on Academic Editing highlighted some important issues in the profession this year. I analysed responses to IPEd’s survey of members which focused on income and working conditions, and wrote a report for members. The survey confirmed the low annual work hours and income of many self-employed editors. I will continue to work to improve the economic status of editors.

As a member of IPEd’s Standing Committee on Academic Editing, it was pleasing to devise and release guidance on indicative costs of academic editing, and a range of other useful resources for academic editors.

We need to raise awareness amongst clients of good practices for an effective relationship and raise awareness amongst professional editors of business practices for a sustainable career.

As part of my professional development, I participated in the online IPEd conference. I renewed my status as an accredited editor, and am a mentor in IPEd’s mentoring program.

2022 brings continued focus on serving my own clients and improving the professional status of editors so we can continue to provide high quality editing for clear communication.

Here’s a recap of my blogs in 2021:

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The right scope for editing – the whole thesis or chapter by chapter?

Editors receive many inquiries about the timing and cost of editing. See my previous blog on the right time for editing. For thesis editing, one decision is whether to have the whole thesis edited at once or to have individual chapters edited one at a time.

Whole thesis editing

Whole thesis editing works well when the submission deadline is imminent, the research has been finalised and all the chapters have been assembled into one file. The editor starts at the beginning and edits to ensure consistency and clarity throughout the document. Usually only one round of editing is possible in the timeframe.

Chapter by chapter editing

Chapter by chapter editing works better in the earlier stages when a student may need more guidance on structure and formatting. An editor can provide a style sheet for the student to follow for the rest of the thesis and identify issues for the student to be aware of throughout the other chapters of the thesis. These issues may include document formatting, reference styles or table and figure formats, as well as consistency issues of spelling and references to key concepts. Chapter 1 is usually very short with a standard structure, so is not the most useful for standalone editing. A literature review chapter is a better guide for the rest of the thesis. Chapter editing allows the student to learn and incorporate changes in later chapters.

A thesis in the publication format may also require chapter by chapter editing, as chapters are written individually as articles. Even in this format, the preliminary pages and the overall assembly of chapters into a thesis usually need editing.

Chapter editing is also an option when submission is imminent but limited time or budget is not sufficient to cover whole thesis editing.


Whole thesis editing is usually more time and therefore cost efficient for a given word count because the editor focuses on the whole document, makes decisions and implements them. There is usually repetition of text and therefore of editing changes. Editing a chapter at a time is usually more expensive overall, due to the startup and familiarisation effort each time. IPEd’s indicative costs of academic editing here and discussed in my recent blog reflect this. The 5,000 words at the end of a 100,000 word thesis can be edited faster than the 5,000 words at the beginning. The further apart in time the chapters are edited, the less efficient the process is and more rounds of editing may be required. However, this may provide a better learning experience.

Students must decide based on their own circumstances and discussions with an editor what editing scope is right.

To work with an accredited editor for your academic editing work, please contact me at