What are the advantages and disadvantages of self-editing?

Any thesis supervisor will tell you that editing your work is essential. Even if you think you’ve written it perfectly, most proofreading will return at least a few glaring errors. Many people, especially international students, will choose to pay a professional editor to review their work, but many also opt to self-edit. So what are the pros and cons of editing your own work?

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Pro: You will save money

A key consideration for many is that editing your own work will mean you don’t have to pay out what seems a large sum of money.

Con: It will take a long time

If you’re editing your own thesis, you will quickly find that it takes a very, very long time and that cleaning your room, baking cakes and making lunch arrangements with friends are suddenly very important. In this regard, you may have saved money but your time—which could be spent in more productive ways—will be eaten up.

Pro: You’ll become more familiar with your work

Since most people write their theses over a course of at least three years, it may be useful to review your work as a whole, and really get into the finer details as you edit. This can be useful if you have to defend your thesis.

Con: You’re already too familiar with your work

Unfortunately, editing your own writing is dangerous simply because it’s your own work—a fresh pair of eyes will do a much better job. A professional editor is the best you can get: they are both new to your work and highly trained to pick up small inconsistencies that most people don’t notice but that can make a big difference to examiners. The advantages and disadvantages of self-editing

Pro: You can revise as you go

You will want to give your thesis a once- (or twice-) over in terms of content. When self-editing, you can hone your ideas as you go. You may also find that you have repeated certain arguments, missed out on particular references, failed to adhere to the style guide or used inconsistent formatting.

Con: A good editor will revise for you

A professional editor will pick up on repetition, missed citations and gaps in your argument for you. They will clean up your bibliography and make sure everything conforms to the style you require, whether it’s APA, Harvard, Chicago, AGLC or a more obscure citation style. They will also format your thesis perfectly. It’s much easier to start from a clean copy of your thesis, address the inconsistencies found by the editor and just focus on your content.

Pro: Spelling and grammar check will help you

It’s true: Microsoft Word has a fantastic spelling and grammar checker that has saved many an embarrassing typo, confusing grammar gaffe and Australian v US English mix-up. You will be reminded of all the late nights you spent on the thesis and find some hilarious misspellings.

Con: Professional editors have the big guns

The pros are not only better than anyone at picking up spelling and grammar errors, they also have a whole suite of professional document checking tools and reference guides to pick up the tiniest of inconsistencies.

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