Effective writing

emwords: In a nutshell …

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Editing research theses 

This is a major part of my editing business these days, and getting larger. More and more universities are accepting candidates to undertake higher degrees with, seemingly, a greater need of help to write effectively in acceptable English as required for research theses in Australian universities.

What are editors allowed to do?

Professional editors in Australia are restricted as to the level of edit they may undertake: copy-editing only. The thesis is, and must remain, the work of the candidate, so editors may not edit content or do anything that is likely to change the meaning intended by the author. In other words, the editor may not undertake substantive editing in any form. The various levels of edit are described on the Institute of Professional Editors (IPEd) website at www.iped-editors.org. Select ‘About editing’ and then ‘Levels of edit’.

IPEd guidelines

The guidelines are set out clearly on the IPEd website at www.iped-editors.org. Select ‘About editing’ and then ‘Editing research theses’. The guidelines refer to the editing of research material restricted to post-graduate research theses (Honours, Masters and PhD). Undergraduate essays are not included in ‘research theses’. All universities in Australia have agreed to these guidelines and their students must adhere to them – no matter who the editor is or whether or not the editor is a member of a branch of IPEd or of any other editing organisation. No editing may be done for students at all without the written permission of the student’s chief supervisor – you need to see this permission before you undertake the editing.

Acknowledgment of editing

When you complete the edit, make sure that the student includes an acknowledgment of exactly what kind of edit you did and provides your name and contact details. I find it’s easiest if I write that acknowledgment for the student and ensure that they insert it in their Acknowledgments page before submitting their thesis.

Asking an emma editor (see Our team) to edit your thesis

If you would like one of the emma team to edit your thesis, please be aware that we must stick to IPEd guidelines. We need the following when you first write to us:

  • your full name and the name of your university plus your private or university email address (we will not answer anything from apparently incorrect email addresses)
  • whether your thesis is for a PhD or other doctorate, a Masters degree or dissertation or an Honours degree, and in what discipline
  • permission from your chief supervisor for you to seek editorial assistance (we will need to see your supervisor’s email to you in due course)
  • any details you can give about length of thesis, submission date, a little about the content.

Write initially using our message form in Enquiries. We look forward to hearing from you.

Other academic editing

Not covered by the IPEd guidelines (above) is editing of articles written by graduates for scholarly journals. The restrictions above do not apply. You are free to edit at any level of edit, but you should edit in accordance with the guidelines of the journal for which the article has been written. The client should supply you with any necessary guidelines, unless you are told: ‘APA style’ or something similar. Your library should contain copies of other style guides besides the Australian Style manual.

Training for academic editing

Until recently, there was no training available at all for editors. Now there are university courses in writing, publishing and editing, and other guidance for academic editing. The IPEd Accreditation Exam provides a general editing qualification but is not designed to provide a qualification in any specialist editing. Contact us to ask for more information about the exam, pre-exam mentoring and workshops for academic editors, and read about it on the IPEd website at www.iped-editors.org and select ‘Accreditation’.

Help with English grammar

Some international students need extensive help to understand some aspects of English grammar. If you are able to teach English grammar as well as to edit, you may be able to help a student by providing some tuition alongside the editing, if the student really wants to learn to write more effectively in future. This is not for everyone, but if you can teach, you may be interested in my method: contact me here to ask for details.

There’s a lot more, but that’s the ‘nutshell’ version.

© Elizabeth Manning Murphy DE, 2018

Contact the author, Elizabeth Manning Murphy, (click here) for more about this Nutshell article.