Your Guide To Thesis Editing in Australia

A Background to Thesis Editing

Thanks to friends, family, supervisors and fellow students, thesis editing has been around as long as postgraduate degrees, but professional thesis editing services are relatively new, especially in Australia.

As a result of intense competition, higher standards and the ever-increasing demands of academic success, postgrad students wanting to progress in academia, win funding or land a good job now find themselves looking for an edge to increase the quality of their thesis as well as any publications, like journal articles, they write along their journey to graduation.

Professional thesis editors and proofreaders provide this edge by making theses as perfect as possible. A highly trained copyeditor will ensure that the thesis topic, research, reasoning and conclusions are clearly and concisely set out and easy to understand. All this makes a favourable impression on thesis examiners.

The Importance of Thesis Editing for Students

You could have the best thesis topic in the world, with groundbreaking insights, and life-altering conclusions, but if your grammar is sloppy, your formatting inconsistent, and your referencing incomplete, your brilliance will most likely be overlooked.

Perhaps your formatting is clear, and your referencing meets university requirements, but you’re prone to ‘silly’ mistakes (like incorrect apostrophes) or switch between American and Australian English.

You could proofread your own thesis, but your brain tends to compensate for these mistakes by reading correctly what is incorrectly written. Research shows that every time you read a document, your brain automatically uses less energy to do so. It sees what it thinks is there, not what is there. And how many times have you read your thesis?

There are thesis editing apps and programs, which are considerably cheaper than hiring a professional thesis editor to proofread your work. But they tend to miss mistakes and make incorrect suggestions. We are all familiar with the basic errors they miss, such as homophones, where the spelling is correct, but you’ve used the wrong word, like leek instead of leak. But when it comes to the sophisticated level of language that you should be using in your master’s or PhD thesis, a spelling and grammar checker will miss even more because it will often misinterpret your meaning. There’s no AI replacement for the human brain, yet!

A reputable thesis editing company with experienced academic editors and proofreaders will pick up the smallest mistakes and inconsistencies so that your hard work is presented in the best possible way.

The Increasing Popularity of Thesis Editing

Demand for professionals to proofread and edit theses is growing for several reasons.

Many universities have a growing contingent of international students for whom English is a second or even third, fourth or fifth language. They need someone to proofread and edit their work to ensure the language, grammar, and syntax are correct, and the information is clear and well organised. Thesis proofreaders ensure international students are not handicapped by the tricky (and sometimes nonsensical) English language.

Many academic supervisors recommend thesis editing services because they make their lives easier. It’s more pleasant to read error-free writing than work spotted with mistakes that distract and detract from the work and muddy meaning and intent.

Proofreading and editing take a long time, especially if it’s a 100-page undergrad thesis or a 300-page postgrad dissertation. No matter how good they are at writing, it’s remarkably difficult for anyone who isn’t a professional editor to remain focused and conscientious, and to catch every error. Hiring professional editing services saves time, lessens stress and guarantees the 100% focus and attention that your work deserves.

Ethics and Guidelines of Thesis Editing

There is a distinct difference between editing to improve content (i.e., research, ideas, information and sophisticated matters of structure) and editing to correct and improve grammar, syntax, spelling, consistency, formatting and referencing. The first essentially rewrites work and is considered cheating. It’s referred to as ‘substantive editing’ and is prohibited by university guidelines. The second cleans up work to remove ambiguity, confusion and inconsistency in language, citations and cross-references.

Ethical thesis editing abides by the standards determined by professional editing organisations and universities to guide service offerings. Unethical editors throw the guidelines out the window and provide any service students are willing to pay for, even if it is technically plagiarism or cheating.

Always hire editing and proofreading professionals who clearly state their code of ethics and can name the guidelines that they are following. Avoid those who don’t and who dodge questions about their professional academic editing accreditations.

Why Thesis Editing is Permissible by Universities

Thesis editing is permissible for postgraduate students provided you and the professional editing and proofreading service provider you choose abide by the guidelines developed by the Institute of Professional Editors (IPEd) in collaboration with the Australian Council of Graduate Research (ACGR). These important rules are called the ‘Guidelines for Editing Research Theses’. Universities draw the line at changes to content and sophisticated matters of structure. So editors can correct your grammatical errors, cleaning up your commas and colons, but can’t wholly rewrite your sentences.

Your supervisor or your department’s friendly admin staff might be able to recommend particular professional thesis editing service providers that are familiar with your university’s rules and your specific department’s preferences when it comes to things like formatting and referencing.

Editors and proofreaders eliminate mistakes and ensure consistency. They aren’t there to do your research and write (or rewrite) your thesis for you. Some unscrupulous editing service providers may offer these services. If they do, run a mile because it’s a violation of all academic editing guidelines.

The Institute of Professional Editors Limited (IPEd)

IPEd is the professional association for Australian and New Zealand editors. It provides professional accreditation and helps members stay on top of their craft with ongoing professional development opportunities. It establishes and promotes professional standards, and holds members to these standards.

The IPEd website has a guide to editing research theses, including guidelines for ethical editing specific to academia and creative work submitted for examination purposes. The institute is responsible for publishing any revisions, approved by the IPEd Board and endorsed by the ACGR, to the thesis editing guidelines.

Thesis editors and proofreaders, academic supervisors, and research students themselves must familiarise themselves with the guidelines and follow them, especially regarding restrictions and limitations imposed on academic editing.

Accreditation is not easy to come by, as applicants have to achieve a grade of over 80% in a rigorous four-hour exam. IPEd strongly recommends that editors have more than three years’ full-time experience before they even attempt the exam. Accredited editors must renew their accreditation every five years.

Australian Thesis Editing Companies

You have two options if you want to hire professional thesis proofreading and editing services:

  1. Choose a company that specialises in academic proofreading and editing.
  2. Choose a freelancer that specialises in academic proofreading and editing.

Specialisation is the key: there is a world of difference between editing a corporation’s annual report and a 200-page doctoral thesis. The requirements and standards are like chalk and cheese, as are the rules and ethics regarding what is and isn’t allowed in academic editing.

We’re going to look at four of the top thesis editing companies in Australia and the freelancing option with regard to three points:

  1. Ethics
  2. Delivery time
  3. Cost

1. Capstone Editing


  • Capstone Editing abides by the ‘Guidelines for Editing Research Theses’, the Australian Standards of Editing Practice and specific rules and guides for each university concerned—no substantive (structure or content) editing for students.
  • Most of the editors employed are Accredited Editors and Professional Members of IPEd.
  • The company is a corporate member of IPEd.
  • The website has a Code of Ethics.

Delivery Time:

  • There are three delivery options: Standard, Express and Priority.
  • There is a Last-Minute service available on request—provided a suitably experienced thesis editor is available.
  • Turnaround time varies according to word count and the level of editing service selected.
  • The Premium editing service with Standard delivery for 5,000 words is 3 days; Priority delivery is 24 hours.
  • For 5,000 words, the Platinum package has a Standard turnaround of 4 days and Priority turnaround of 2 days.
  • Long theses (up to 100,000 words) have a Standard turnaround of 14 days and Priority time turnaround of 7 days.
  • Capstone Editing has an On-Time Guarantee.


  • Cost depends on word count and the editing service and turnaround selected.
  • For example, 5,000 words of Premium editing with a Standard 3-day delivery is $282.49.
  • On the other end of the spectrum, 80,000 words of Platinum editing with Standard delivery of 14 days is $2,696.11—for the Priority service of 7-days, it’s $3,165.69.
  • Capstone Editing is the only editing service to offer interest-free repayment plans.

2. Elite Editing


  • Elite Editing abides by the requirements of the ‘Guidelines for Editing Research Theses’, the Australian Standards of Editing Practice and specific rules and guides for each university concerned—no substantive (structure or content) editing for students.

Delivery Time:

  • There are four delivery options: Standard, Express, Urgent and Extra Urgent (if thesis editors are available).
  • Turnaround time varies according to word count.
  • Up to 5,000 words, Standard delivery is 5 days, and Urgent is 2 days.
  • Up to 50,000 words, Standard delivery is 14 days, and Urgent is 7 days.
  • *More than 50,000 words require a special quote.
  • Elite Editing has a 100% Delivery Guarantee.


  • Cost depends on word count and turnaround selected.
  • 5,000 words of with a Standard 5-day delivery is $280.
  • Higher up the scale, up to 50,000 words with Standard delivery of 14 days costs $1,745 and $2,155 for the 7-day Urgent service.
  • *More than 50,000 words require a special quote.

3. Expert Editor


  • Expert Editor abides by the Institute of Professional Editors guidelines for editing research theses—will not assist with content.

Delivery Time:

  • Students enter a preferred return date, and Expert Editor undertakes to meet that deadline.
  • Short turnaround times may be accommodated.
  • If a deadline is too tight, an alternative delivery time is suggested.
  • Expert Editor has no guarantees regarding meeting deadlines.


  • Cost depends on word count. Turnaround times need to be negotiated.
  • 5,000 words costs $221.
  • 80,000 words costs $2,080.
  • Payment is normally upfront. But for large thesis projects (over 80,000 words), it’s possible to pay half up-front and the other half before the delivery date.

4. Scribbr


  • Scribbr is a Dutch academic proofreading and editing company that operates internationally.
  • Not all thesis editing services provided to students are permitted by Australian universities.
  • It’s up to students to know exactly what is and isn’t permitted and purchase the services allowed by the ‘Guidelines for Editing Research Theses’ and the rules relevant to their university.

Delivery Time:

  • Turnaround times are negotiated, with services of 1, 3 and 7 days offered for short documents. The website notes that at least 7 days are required to edit up to 75,000 words, and that more time might be required depending on the quality of the document.
  • Scribbr has no guarantees regarding meeting deadlines.


  • Cost depends on word count, level of study, amount of editing services chosen and turnaround selected.
  • 5,000 words with a turnaround time of 3 days costs $245 if you are a master’s or PhD student, or $328 if you add on a Clarity Check—something that is already included in Capstone Editing’s and Elite Editing’s standard editing services.
  • Going up the scale, 80,000 words will set you back $2,275 for the Proofreading & Editing service only, or $3,155 when you add on the Clarity Check.
  • **There is a $25 setup fee.

5. Freelancers


  • Individual thesis editing freelancers determine their own code of ethics.
  • If in doubt, look for an Accredited Editor who is also a Professional Member of IPEd.
  • They should abide by the ‘Guidelines for Editing Research Theses’.

Delivery Time:

  • Delivery time depends on the freelancer’s schedule and on the student’s needs.
  • Delivery estimates are worked out on a case-by-case basis.
  • Students should be aware that if their freelance editor is unable to complete the job for any reason, there may not be anyone in place to replace them automatically.


  • The cost of editing provided by a freelancer will be determined by that individual, based on factors such as his or her qualifications and experience. The tend to quote per project rather than having set fees, and they might charge by the hour instead of according to word count. Rates can vary widely.
  • The Institute of Professional Editors has recommended rates for freelance thesis editors and proofreaders.
  • For example, freelancers with fewer than two years’ experience should normally charge $60 to $80 per hour.
  • Freelancers with extensive or specialised experience normally charge $110 to $160 per hour.
  • Many freelancers advertise on niche job websites.

Factors for Selecting a Thesis Editing Service

Your thesis has the potential to set the tone for your career, so you need to research your options and choose the professional editing company that best suits you, your needs and your means.

Google is a blessing and a curse. It will give you thousands of search results, but it doesn’t tell you which of the thesis editing and proofreading companies that come up are genuinely reputable and which might be popular but have no regard for ethics.

There are three important criteria to consider when making your choice:

  • Ethics
  • Delivery time
  • Cost

Let’s take a closer look.


Does the company abide by the guidelines set by the Institute of Professional Editors and the Australian Council of Graduate Research? These guidelines determine which services are ethical and permissible for postgraduates to use for their academic editing and proofreading and which aren’t.

For example, it’s okay to correct grammar and syntax and ensure consistency and completeness concerning, for example, formatting, references, capitalisation and punctuation.

It’s not okay to change the content or structure of the thesis, and it is certainly not ethical to carry out additional research or rewrite sections.
While the thesis editing and proofreading guidelines are standardised in Australia, it’s important to note that some departments may have their own guides that explain what is allowable.

For example, express permission to use a thesis editor may be required, or you may need to show your supervisor both the unedited and edited versions of your thesis.
Make sure you know and follow your department’s specific rules.

Delivery Time

Editing delivery time depends on the length of the document or thesis being edited. It also depends on what you want to be done; that is, a standard editing or proofreading service, or one that is heavier and more extensive (while still following the guidelines). For example, it’s not possible for a 25,000-word thesis to be properly edited and proofread in 24 hours.

Some thesis editing service providers have different levels of service, which affects turnaround time. For example, a standard service package at a standard delivery time could take anything from three to 28 days. Many companies offer a priority option, in which case it could take between one day and two weeks.

You might need something more than a standard service, though, especially if English isn’t your first language or you have dyslexia. Extra-strength thesis editing needs extra time. For example, a 25,000-word thesis requiring heavy editing or additional editing services could take a minimum of five days, even with a priority turnaround time.

While you can rely on the quality of work from reputable editors and proofreaders, it’s recommended that you give yourself plenty of time to carefully read the finished product to ensure that everything is as it should be. Depending on the level of service chosen, a specialist academic editor might also provide you with guidance and advice about additional work you need to do yourself to improve or complete your thesis, for example, if references are missing or more support for your argument is required.


The cost will depend on your document’s length, turnaround time, level of service and service provider. It also depends on whether you go with a thesis editing company or a freelancer. Quality and reputation can also affect the price. While expensive services don’t always equate quality, super cheap rates generally indicate shoddy, ethically ambiguous work.

A few cost examples:

IPEd has recommended rates for freelancers; this varies from $60–$80 per hour for someone with fewer than two years’ experience (a level of expertise that would typically not be considered adequate for academic editing or thesis editing) to $110–$160 per hour for someone with extensive experience and a specialisation. (Rates calculated by IPEd in January 2020 and to be reviewed annually.)

If you go with a thesis editing company, you’re looking at (approximately) $370 to $500 for a 10,000-word Honours thesis. For an 80,000-word PhD thesis, you’re looking at (approximately) $2,080 to $3,200.

Capstone Editing is the only thesis editing company to offer payment plans that allow you to pay the service cost over a chosen period (3, 6, 9 or 12 months). This is invaluable for students who can’t come up with a wad of cash in one go, especially scholarship students and international students already paying high tuition fees.

Expert Editor offers undergrad and postgrad students the ability to pay for half of their thesis editing up-front and the remainder upon delivery of the edited service, another helpful option for cash-strapped students.

5 Tips for Writing Your Thesis

Hiring a thesis editor or proofreader is all good and well, but first, you need to have something to send them. Let’s take a quick look at how to write your thesis.

1) Pick a subject you find interesting

You’ll be working on your thesis for a long time, so you better find the subject fascinating. This way, you’re more likely to engage anyone who reads your thesis and make them interested too.

2) Drill beneath the surface to discover your research questions

Once you’ve chosen a thesis subject, you need to delve deeper and discover the questions about it that remain to be answered. You and your supervisor can work together to look for areas that require deeper exploration. While it is acceptable for an Honours research project to simply do something that has been done before in a different way, a master’s or PhD thesis topic must allow your research to make a unique contribution to the field.

3) Tackle your thesis a little bit at a time

Performing your research and writing a thesis is a big project, and it can be daunting; so start with what you know and what you want to prove, and put together a research plan and a basic thesis structure. You can then tackle the larger project one small step at a time.

4) Use the correct formatting and preferred templates

Find out whether your university supplies a template to guide the structure and formatting of your thesis. Some departments even provide a specific Word template for their students to use.

Use the template from the get-go, even for recording your research, so you don’t create unnecessary stress for yourself by having to re-do work later on.

Find out your department’s preferred referencing style and use it from the beginning, at the research stage. Record all the sources you have read and accessed, in the correct referencing style, not just for your own records but also in case you are asked to provide a bibliography rather than just a reference list (which only includes those sources that you have cited in your thesis).

5) Don’t get bogged down by order

When it comes to writing up your thesis, don’t worry about putting it into words in any precise order. Opinions vary, but a general guide is to start with the easiest bits to gain momentum and then finish with the parts you find the most difficult. So long as you have a detailed plan before you begin writing, it doesn’t matter in what order you write your sections or subsections.

Two quick tips before we go:

1) Take advantage of your academic supervisors’ experience, but don’t rely on her or him.

2) ‘Save As’ your work at least once every 20–30 minutes (don’t just ‘Save’ over top of your work!) and back it up on external devices and the cloud. The last thing you need is to lose hours of work because your computer crashed, let alone months or years because—God forbid—your house burned down during your postgrad degree! (Hey, it’s happened!)

Final Points

If you’re looking for a thesis editing and proofreading provider, a quick Google search will show you’re spoilt for choice. However, it takes a little more than a few search phrases to find a quality, reliable, reputable and accredited professional editor—let alone one qualified and experienced enough to edit your doctoral thesis as opposed to a short story or a company’s brochure.

Delivery time and cost are important factors in choosing a thesis editing company or freelancer, but don’t underestimate the value of professional accreditation. Accreditation by itself doesn’t guarantee quality either, but it’s an indication that the company or freelancer concerned is suitably qualified and operates ethically, that is, within universities’ acceptable parameters.

Don’t be afraid to ask editing service providers probing questions, and if you encounter resistance, close the tab and look elsewhere!

Good luck! Use the research and analytical skills you’ve obtained during your degrees in your search for a thesis editor, and we are confident you will end up in good hands!

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