No writing can be considered complete without several rounds of editing, and this is especially true when writing a thesis. Learn the most important tips on how to edit a thesis.
How to Edit a Thesis via Self-Editing
The first step in editing a thesis is generally what we call “self-editing.” At this stage, the writer reads through her draft thesis to ensure completeness and coherence of her arguments. Many authors self-edit as they write by rearranging some sentences as thoughts develop.
Thus, some of the ideas may be left unclear, truncated, or repeated in different parts of the thesis. The writer needs to catch as many of these instances as possible and try to fix them. This stage may be the most time-consuming one in editing a thesis.
How to Edit a Thesis via Micro-Editing
The next step is called “micro-editing.” At this stage, one has to look for details, including typos, word choice, grammar, and consistency in usage. Spell check in your word processor can catch some of these mistakes. Others may need a trained eye to spot errors and inconsistencies. As the writer, you are too close to your work, and the help of a professional editor can be invaluable at this stage. Books and websites, e.g., our blog at FirstEditing.com, can also provide guidance on fine points of grammar and usage.
As the writer, you are too close to your work, and the help of a professional editor can be invaluable at this stage. Books and websites can also provide guidance on fine points of grammar and usage.
When editing for consistency and compliance with a style guide, special attention should be paid to headings, captions, footnotes, and references. Here is how to ensure your reference list is complete: If possible, start working on it simultaneously with your writing. In this way, there will be less chance you will omit some of the authors you cite in the text. Plus, this saves you a lot of time during the editing. If you have already written your thesis but don’t have a reference list yet, prepare it after the “micro editing” stage: Read your thesis once again for the works cited and follow the relevant style guide in creating the entries.
If you have already written your thesis but don’t have a reference list yet, prepare it after the “micro-editing” stage: Read your thesis once again for the works cited and follow the relevant style guide in creating the entries.
Formatting your thesis is the technical side of editing. Make sure to follow your university’s guidelines or, if you have a professional editor help you, let them know what the exact requirements are.
The table of contents (TOC) is prepared after the primary editing. Again, your word processor can be helpful here, and many universities provide templates for TOC.
An important “how-to”: Even if you have a professional editor go through your work, double-check all page numbers in the TOC before submitting your thesis. Compare the pages because sometimes page numbers may change due to editing and formatting.
Most thesis writers go through the process of researching, writing, and self-editing a thesis for the first time. Completing a thesis can be a stressful and laborious task. Professional help from a trusted source will make this process a lot easier.
How to Edit a Thesis
Reaching a point when both you and your supervisor feel that you have done sufficient research (for it is never complete) to report in your thesis is accompanied by a mixture of feelings. After several years of hard work, this culmination of all you efforts is both exhilarating and daunting.
The excitement of having your goal within reach is overshadowed by the worry that you won’t be able to write a thesis that will present all your achievements in the form they rightfully deserve.
Your thesis is a project in itself; while it reports on your work, the process of writing requires an entirely different set of skills to those used in research. Furthermore, depending on your area of expertise, writing might not be your strongest point.
But regardless of your literary abilities, reporting on something you are so deeply involved in is never easy. What may seem logical to you might not be to a reader. Equally, explaining every single detail of your work is not needed either, as your primary audience are your examiners. The thesis should be a fairly self-contained volume that can be read and understood without the need for referencing other sources. Thus, balancing all these requirements might be challenging.
The thesis should be a relatively self-contained volume that can be read and understood without the need for referencing other sources. Thus, balancing all these requirements might be challenging.
Your supervisors are there to guide you in the right direction, but will not be involved in to the minutiae of your every sentence and paragraph. Thus before you reach the stage where you feel that you cannot progress any further, it is helpful to enlist help of a professional editor. With a broad range of services available, that in itself will not be a straightforward task.
Being able to read between the lines of marketing pages to recognize the editorial service that will best meet your needs will probably seem like a gamble, as all advertise excellent services.
Thus look for the service that offers quality guarantee and sample edits wherever possible. This will make the selection process less of a ‘leap of faith.’ Finally, before you commit to an editor, be clear what you aim to accomplish.
Identify all areas where you feel you need the most help, such as transitional phrases, the flow of thought, layout, spelling and grammar, use of citations, references, footnotes, etc.
Be very specific in your requests, as that will identify the editing level required, as well as ensure that all your requirements are met. If your university has a specific style guide that specifies a particular thesis layout, pagination, use of running heads, line spacing etc. be sure to include it with your request.
Your editor’s help and guidance will be an invaluable source of support in your last days as a research student. Hopefully, the relationship established will be extended for many years to come as your career progresses. As you start to publish more, editing enables you to learn from each edited project and improve your writing.