The Value of Dissertation Editing
Dissertation editing can be a valuable service that substantially improves your academic performance. Your dissertation will likely be the single most important project you have undertaken, and it deserves the level of professional care and attention commensurate with this status.
Dissertation editing covers an array of services comprehensively. Your dissertation will be proofread to find spelling, grammatical and typographic errors (link to dissertation proofreading article). Then it will be checked with an eye for the style and structure of your language. The importance of style to academic success cannot be understated. At the most simple level, it is essential that your language is clear enough for you to be understood – if your marker can’t understand your arguments, they can’t give you the mark your ideas deserve. But having a good style goes beyond just being understood. Language is an opaque medium for communication, closer to stained glass or sunglasses than it is to clear air. The language in which ideas are expressed filters and colours them. To simplify again: nothing gives a better impression of intelligence in writing than a good style, and nothing gives a worse impression than saggy, repetitious or nonsensical prose.
Good style, however, is subjective. There is no one singular style; there are quirks and individualities. Within these varieties there is room for an editor to work. A good editor will ensure that your work meets the accepted, but vague, guidelines for academic style. The tone will be formal and precise; contractions and colloquialisms will be avoided; the sentences will, in general, have multiple clauses; intensifiers will be avoided in order to make the writing seem dispassionate, neutral and studious.
If following these rules of thumb can create acceptable academic writing, dissertation editing can create good academic writing. There are parts of writing academically that are to a large extent conveyed by language. Most important of these is the strength and flow of an argument. An argument depends on its structure and content, but it also depends on the writing that enacts this structure: on the conjunctions and connectives that link ideas and paragraphs, on the introductions and conclusions that anchor each paragraph, and on the phrasing that introduces evidence in such a way that makes it seem convincing rather than just factual.
Language is important rhetorically as much as it is in this technical or mechanical sense. There is a rhetorical strategy called the ‘Ethical Appeal’. It can be paraphrased as ‘trust me!’ The Ethical Appeal aims to convince the reader, through language use, that the writer is the kind of person who should be trusted, with the aim of making the argument itself more convincing because it comes from liked and respected source.
The largest benefit of dissertation editing, then, is that it can increase the Ethical Appeal of your work, by improving your language. The credibility of a writer’s work is almost entirely dependent on their abilities as a writer first and foremost, and as an academic second. This strikes us as unfair: why should students be passively penalised for not being great writers when they are good academics? Dissertation editing can improve the quality of your language, and therefore improve your credibility to the reader – in this case, to your marker. The greater your credibility – the greater your Ethical Appeal – the more appealing and convincing your argument will seem. This is why it is important for students to follow academic conventions – because doing so makes them seem credible – but it is also why it is important to follow more broad rhetorical and linguistic conventions. The better your writing – the more it flows, the more it declares when it should declare and equivocates when it should equivocate, the more it is subtle and sensitive, the more it is clear and concise – the more credibility you will have, even if your ideas are, abstractly, exactly the same. This is the distorting effect that language can have. Dissertation editing will help you to distort to your own advantage.