A Guide to Thesis Editing in Australia

A Guide to Thesis Editing in Australia

A version of this guide was published on the popular Thesis Whisperer website.

Professional thesis editing can benefit both native-speaking and English as a second language (ESL) students alike. However, there is misconception among some students about the role and efficacy of hiring a professional editor and uncertainty as to the best way to find one. Therefore, this guide will take students through the key issues involved in professional thesis editing service and will assist them in finding the right editing option for their thesis.

Although the guide is Australia-orientated, the general principles which are outlined for hiring a thesis editor apply in other countries too.

Why thesis editing is important

Every student should utilise an editor in the final stages of their thesis, either a fellow student, family member or a professional. A professional editor is in a great position to improve the quality of a thesis by enhancing the quality of the language so that ideas and arguments are clearly expressed, removing language mistakes which can undermine the final outcome and ensuring that academic writing, formatting and referencing conventions are met.

ESL students, in particular, can benefit from the editing process. While editing plays an important role in enhancing their English language proficiency, it can also assist those students who are unfamiliar with the conventions of academic writing in the English-speaking world.

Thesis editing is ethical and permissible

There is confusion about the efficacy of professional thesis editing. One school of thought is that academic editing for students is akin to cheating and is therefore not allowed. This view is incorrect. Thesis editing is permissible as long as the editor follows certain guidelines. The Institute of Professional Editors (IPEd) regulates the editing of research theses in Australia, and outlines the appropriate level of intervention by an editor. In short, it limits editor intervention to enhancing language-use and improving expression and ensuring referencing style and formatting conformity while strictly forbidding changes to structure and content.

Individual Australian universities may also regulate—but do not ban—the use of professional editing. Certain universities require a student to get permission before engaging an editor or that they acknowledge any assistance.

Two avenues for professional editing

Editing company

There are a number of professional editing companies in Australia, and as a consumer it is up to the student to do their research and find the right option for them.

Editing companies are a popular option for two reasons. First, quality academic editors gravitate towards working for professional editing companies because they provide a regular flow of work without editors having to market themselves. Secondly, editing companies may have multiple academic editors on their team, and therefore will usually be able to begin work immediately. If a student’s deadline for submission is tight, this is advantageous.

A Google search is the easiest way to find professional editing companies in Australia. It is important to examine each company’s website as no two editing companies are exactly alike in their level of service or affordability. Later in this article we outline the key questions to ask any editing company before using their service.

Tip: Just because a student engages an editing company rather than a freelance editor does not mean that their editor should be faceless. An editing company should always be able to identify the editor, their skill-set and editing background. If a company is not willing to provide this information, a student should be wary about using their services.

Freelance editor

There are three ways the find a freelance thesis editor. The first is through Google as some freelance editors have their own website. Another option is to approach national and state editing societies as most have a list of editors that are accredited with them.

The third is to use an online workplace, such as Elance, Freelancer.com or oDesk. Here, you write a small brief about the task and freelancers on the site bid for the job. The large number of freelancers, coupled with the competitive nature of the bidding, can result in low ball offers. However, be careful with online workplaces as the quality of editors are mixed and therefore it is important to ensure that the editor is appropriately qualified and has a history of successful work.

Key considerations when choosing a thesis editor:


The most important consideration when choosing an editor is to ensure that they provide an ethical service and do not overstep their mandate as an editor. Most Australian editing companies and experienced freelance editors will comply with IPED’s guidelines for thesis editing, but there will always be a few outliers. Some may offer to re-write, or even write, your thesis. A student must avoid these services completely as it will get them in serious trouble with their university.


The affordability of professional thesis editing can vary. There will inevitably be a certain level of cost with thesis editing as editing is a time-consuming process and a thesis editor should be highly educated. However, some editing options are more affordable than others, and therefore it is up to a student to do their research and find a suitable one in their price range.


As editors are human and edit subjectively it is important to understand the type of thesis editing service a student will receive. A student should ask the following questions: What does the editing service specifically involve? Is the editor a specialist academic editor or merely a generalist editor with limited understanding of academic conventions? Does the editor have a strong understanding of the specific referencing style? What is the background of the editor? Do they have a history of successful thesis editing?


This may be a crucial issue for those students who have left professional editing to the last minute. Thesis editing is a time-consuming process, and it is unrealistic for a 60,000 word thesis to be edited in a day. However, some editing companies and freelancers can accommodate a relatively short turnaround and will not charge extra for it, while others are more rigid in their approach and will charge extra.

A closing note

Australia is not short of good quality academic editors, but it is incumbent on a student to do their research and find the right option for them. This guide has been designed to simplify the search process and provide the necessary information to help a student find a thesis editor that is not only is ethical, but can genuinely improve the quality of their thesis.

About The Expert Editorguide to thesis editing

The Expert Editor is Australia’s leading editing and proofreading company. We cater for student and academicsauthors and businesses, among other types of writers. Thesis editing is one of our most popular services.