Once you have finished writing your dissertation, you are likely to think something along these lines: “I spent months writing all this stuff, I read and reread each line a million times, I already rewrote every sentence at least once. Do I really need to go over all this again?” It is, indeed, very tempting to be done with it and submit it as it is, but it is, in fact, a very, very bad idea. Editing is a hugely important step that can make all the difference between earning your doctorate and having spent all this time in vain. So buckle up and get ready for a ride – we will tell you how to achieve the best results with your editing.
Take a Break for a Few Days
After spending all this time writing your dissertation, you have to spend a few days apart from it to be able to view it with a fresh eye. It will prevent you from hurrying and simply rereading the text trying to pass it as editing. Once you have taken a rest, you will be able to analyze your dissertation with a little bit more attention.
While asking a friend or a family member to read your entire dissertation may be pushing it a bit too far, you can divide it between your acquaintances and ask them to have a look at a chapter or two each. Alternatively, you can hire a professional dissertation editing specialist online – there are plenty of services providing this kind of assistance, and many of them have quite affordable prices. Why ask somebody to look at your writing if you can do it yourself? After spending months or probably even years researching, reading, and rereading the same things over and over again, may desensitize you to the existing drawbacks. Another person, even if s/he is not a professional editor, can point out an awkward turn of phrase, a poor choice of words, and many other flaws.
Divide Editing into Stages
Do not try to edit your dissertation in one go. It may be a few hundred pages long – do you really expect to retain the same level of attention for a dozen hours or more necessary to go through them? It does not matter how, but you should divide the process into stages and take it gradually, one step at a time. You can separate the dissertation into segments and edit them individually – for example, one chapter, then another, then another, and so on. Alternatively, you can pay attention to a single aspect of the text at a time – for example, go over the dissertation once to edit it for structure, another time to edit it for style, and so on.
Edit Your Dissertation for Structure
Irrespectively of whether you edit the entire dissertation or do it chapter by chapter, you should begin with paying attention to its structure. The structure is what allows the reader to follow the logic of your argument. So, check if the chapters are arranged logically and lead one to another, if their internal logic is sound, if they are divided into the right sections, if you properly link individual parts of the dissertation to each other and so on. In other words, make sure it constitutes a cohesive whole.
Edit for Language and Style
The next step is to make sure that you use proper grammar and consistently follow the same style throughout the dissertation. Check if your style is formal and academic, i.e., avoid the use of colloquial words and expressions, jargon words, contractions, and suchlike. Remember that requirements may differ from discipline to discipline, so make sure you get acquainted with the specific requirements of your subject before you set about. If you are not sure, seek advice from specialists: professional editors, your professors, and peers.
Finally, proofread the text for small mistakes, such as misspellings, wrong choice of words, inconsistent formatting, and other similar problems. It is important to do it at the last stage because by then you are unlikely to introduce any large-scale changes that may create additional errors.
Editing a dissertation is a huge job – but it will be far more manageable if you follow a plan and do it in small chunks.