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Section 2 Becoming a Researcher/Scholar / Chapter 8 Reviewing and Improving Writing

4. Using a Professional Editor


The decision to use a professional editor is a multilevel decision, and can result in excessive cost to the learner. If the learner has not edited content for clarity and conciseness, this high-powered proofreading and editing process can change content or move the content in an unintended direction. For these reasons, learners should focus on self-editing early on, leaving the selection and use of professional editor to the final stages of the dissertation process.


Professional editors are plentiful when searching the Internet, but finding one who is highly skilled, is knowledgeable in the discipline and formatting, and understands and works well with the new learner can be somewhat overwhelming. The professional editor’s job is to proofread, edit, and assess the quality, merit, and relevance of the work formally and to suggest changes that will improve the quality of the piece. A professional editor can help to ensure content will be better understood and properly aligned with the requirements of the discipline, formatting style, and publisher. Some professional editors are skilled and experienced in all required areas—others are not.


Professional editors should have a deep knowledge base of formal English including grammar, spelling, and mechanics; adept writing skills including a solid understanding of sentence structure, paragraph organization, and smooth transitions; a familiarization with all current formatting styles; and experience in the specific university or institutional requirements for editing, formatting, and style. Some editors may also possess solid content knowledge, which is beneficial to the new learner. The professional editor must convey the need for perfection in all editing areas. It is the new learner’s job to seek out an editor who is highly skilled and experienced, discuss levels of editing including checking references, and request pricing and charges for additional rounds of editing. Learners may even request a confidentiality agreement of a professional editor if the editing consists of a dissertation study. Although this may sound like the perfect solution to the overwhelmed new learner, using a professional editor can also have a downside.


In deciding to use a professional editor, the new learner can also be making a clear decision to surrender a degree of freedom in the direction and content of the work, and the words used to convey the intended message within the work. Professionally edited drafts may take on a new direction and may begin to convey an unintended meaning. New learners can address this challenge by using a professional editor in the final stages, and by becoming familiar with the professional editor and the levels of editing offered by this editor. Then the learner should determine which level is appropriate for the work.