Editing Your Dissertation: Various Levels Explored

Editing Your Dissertation: Various Levels Explored

The goal of editing a document should always be reader oriented. Editing is the process where the text is corrected, reorganized, and modified for a better understanding of the reader. The procedure of editing the dissertation should have a gap of few days after completing it. The break gives you a chance  to forget everything you have written and to start afresh with the editing process.  A candidate can either edit it himself or hire a professional. The finalized dissertation has to be properly edited, proofread, and formatted as per the need of the dissertation and for the university to approve and appreciate the research. A well written dissertation is edited in various types, which are as follows :


  • Substantive Editing

  • Copy Editing

  • ESL Editing

  • Multiple Round Editing


Substantive editing involves reviewing the document as a whole. It evaluates the content, structure, flow, style, clarity and consistency in the language of the document. In the context of a dissertation, the accuracy of the whole content is analyzed with an explanation of the mentioned facts. The content is structurally edited reviewing each page and paragraph of the dissertation.

The process begins with the editing of the title. The content should match the title appropriately. The candidate can edit the title if the research concluded differently. If the title has a subtitle, it should be less emphasized than the actual title of the dissertation.

Because the dissertation is reviewed how the whole research flows, it processes the logical reasoning of the content as how is it structured. It is important for the candidate to be consistent while writing his dissertation. It is less preferable to use direct speech and active voice in your writing. The dissertation can not be written in the first person such as 'I', 'we', 'us', etc. It has to be presented in the passive voice to avoid any misleads for the readers. The candidate should adopt a critical stance towards his dissertation to ensure the clarity of the dissertation. The key element of the developmental editing is to be as critical as possible with the work. The candidate should be merciless towards his academic document. In the dissertation the argument should be clearly stated with the annotated use of jargon.


Copy editing is the most important type of editing process for every research dissertation. A candidate can easily do the substantive editing but it is hard for him to do copy edit. Copy editing is a detailed process of editing including spell-checking, grammatical errors and punctuation mistakes. It should check the extent and the word limit of the dissertation. The candidate must check on any missed graph or illustration with a definite explanation of the picture. The process of copy editing is to check each sentence of the previously checked paragraphs. Proper use of tense and punctuation should be checked.


ESL editing (English as a Second Language) is for the candidates whose native language is not English, as the term states English as a second language.  It is for all those students who are not well versed in the professional and academic tone and style of the dissertation.


It is not a smart decision to submit your dissertation without multiple rounds of editing. The candidate must edit the dissertation multiple times to avoid any error or fault in the academic document. It is advised to the candidates to edit and re-edit the dissertation before proceeding to the next step of proofreading.


Editing the dissertation is the final part of completing the dissertation as it is one of the most important functions before submitting it to the committee.

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