Dissertation Proofreading Rate

Academic Editing

Kathleen Kline has been providing academic editing services for over 30 years, assisting students, authors, and instructors in a number of capacities: from mechanical and grammatical proofreading and APA editing to providing extensive editing services to those with greater needs (e.g., nonnative speakers and students with learning disabilities or other writing difficulties). Kathleen works with some students throughout the entire dissertation-writing process; others, she helps prepare the final draft. She is also available for consultation and writing workshops. Her book, Confessions of a Dissertation Editor: Real-Life Stories and Practice Guidance, is available through Amazon.com or directly from her e-store at www.Createspace.com/3410089.

Kathleen is also available for presentations and lectures. For more information, click on the "Presentations" tab above.



The following special rates apply to Argosy University students who only need an approved editor to sign off on their dissertation:

$650 flat fee per 100-page dissertation, including preliminary pages, references, and appendices (prorated based on actual number of pages): proofreading for errors and APA adherence. Please note that this rate is based on the assumption that the dissertation has been approved by the dissertation committee and only requires light proofreading and APA review.

$250 flat fee per 100-page dissertation, including preliminary pages, references, and appendices (prorated based on actual number of pages): a cursory review of dissertation that requires no additional revisions. Please note that this rate is based on the assumption that the dissertation has been approved by the dissertation committee, and the document has already been carefully proofread for errors and APA adherence.


Standard Rates

Dissertation and thesis editing costs are based on per-page estimates, which vary significantly, depending on the needs of the writer. The following chart provides a general guide. Estimates are based on a 1-2 hour review and sample edit of document to be edited.

Technical Editing (using track changes):
readability, flow, organization, academic voice, word choice

20-60 mpp*

APA adherence, grammar, formatting, punctuation

10-20 mpp*

General formatting:
margins, pagination, headings, block quotes, references

1-3 hours

Preparation of preliminary pages:
title page, signature page, acknowledgements, dedication, table of contents, list of tables/figures, abstract

1-3 hours

Producing the final hard copy

1-2 hours

Tables (per table)

10 minutes to 1 hour

*Minutes per page


The Process of Working With an Editor 

There are a number of preliminary steps involved in working with an editor. These steps allow the client to sample the editor’s work before entering into a contractual agreement and also allow the client to get a sense of how the editor can help in the dissertation-writing process. At the same time, before deciding to work with a client, the editor must have a sense of the client’s writing style and level of proficiency, as well as any specific issues with which the client may need assistance.

1.   Review document and submit a sample edit. First, you e-mail Kathleen your document—even if it is not yet ready for editing. Kathleen will spend 1-2 hours editing a few pages using track changes, after which she will return it to you so that you (and your advisor, if appropriate) can review her work. For this service, Kathleen charges $150.00. If you choose to work with her, this cost may be subsumed within the editing cost if no other changes are made to these pages. If you do not decide to work with Kathleen, you will still come away with a good representation of how to improve your dissertation with pointers for correct APA usage.

2.   Estimate based on review. In addition to being an excellent way for you to review Kathleen’s work before you commit and sign a contract with her, this sample edit is also the basis of her contract, as it allows her to make a fairly accurate estimate of the time she would need to do the work. The cost is based primarily on minutes per page (mpp), which depends upon the extent of editing required or desired to produce a high-quality finished product. Additional charges would include formatting and preparing the front pages (per your school’s specifications), including the table of contents and list of tables and figures; providing the overall formatting; editing the reference list; and formatting tables, as well as consultation time.

3.   Proposed contract. Along with the sample edit, Kathleenwill also send you a proposed contract. The primary aspects of the contract are (a) the costs involved broken down into per-page text editing, reference list editing, preparing the front pages, etc.; (b) payment terms; (c) Kathleen’s promise to you to do the best job she possibly can based on her 25+ years of experience; and (d) date of completion.[1]

4.   Cost negotiations, if necessary. If the estimated cost is beyond your budget, you may wish to discuss ways to lower the cost within the scope of the project.[2] Occasionally, Kathleen offers her clients extended payment terms.

Some examples of cost are as follows:

Example 1:

A 50-page dissertation proposal that is in fairly good shape but needs APA editing and a careful proofreading might take 15 minutes per page (mpp; 50 pages x 15 mpp = 750 minutes or 12.5 hours). Additional costs might include initial consultation (1.0 hour), preparing preliminary pages (0.5-1.0 hour), preparing table of contents (0.5-1.5 hours), and editing the reference list (0.5-4.0 hours). Total time: 15.0-20.0 hours @ $85.00/hour = $1,275.00-$1,700.00.

Example 2:

A 100-page completed dissertation that needs textual editing as well as APA formatting might take Kathleen 30 minutes per page (30 mpp x 100 pages = 50.0 hours). Additional time may include initial consultation, preliminary pages, table of contents, reference list, and formatting tables. This may add 3.0-5.0 hours to the total time needed to complete the dissertation, bringing the total to 50.0-55.0 hours. Total time: 50.0-55.0 hours @ $85.00/hour = $4,250.00-$4,675.00.

5.   Meeting. After steps 1-4 have been completed, Kathleen usually meets with her clients in person. This meeting is important for two reasons: First, because of the importance of this document, Kathleen believes it is important to establish a good connection with your editor. Second, it gives her the opportunity to ask you further questions (and for you to ask questions of her) and get a better understanding of your needs and your project. This meeting may also be conducted on the phone or through Skype. 

6.   Payment terms. A 50% retainer is requested at this meeting. The final payment is due when the work has been completed and before Kathleen e-mails the final edited document to you. Kathleen usually receives this payment through PayPal, and once she has been notified that a payment has been made, she then e‑mails the document to you.

7.   Continual availability. Once you receive the document from Kathleen, you should feel free to call or e-mail any questions you might have. In fact, once you have become her client, you should always feel free to call with questions, and unless a substantial amount of time is required, Kathleen will not charge for this time.


[1]  Kathleen also makes two important statements in the contract: (a) her goal is to offer you the highest quality of editing possible; however, at the same time, (b) she cannot guarantee that the edited document will be completely error free or that it will completely satisfy your dissertation committee. You need to carefully read the edited document before turning it in to your committee members.

[2]  This might include a hard-copy edit wherein you input the changes yourself. Another possibility is a sample chapter, after which Kathleen creates a list of specific errors that she notices in your document as well as notes for correct APA usage. In minimizing editing costs, you may also wish to purchase Kathleen’s book, Confessions of a Dissertation Editor: Practical Guidance and Real-Life Stories. The purpose of the first part of the book is to help students identify common errors in APA formatting and academic writing so that they will either be able to go it alone without the need of an editor or need less of her time to create the final document. Kathleen’s book can be purchased through Kathleen’s web site: www.KathleenKline.com.

Robert Forstag wrote:

My suggestion would be to edit 5 pages of it and carefully track your time. Then use that as a basis to extrapolate and determine how many hours the whole project will take. Add in another 15% or so to the final total to cover exchanges of e-mails, reviewing material a second, third, or fourth time, etc. and you can then determine how much per hour you are willing to live with (and your client is willing to pay).

Like Robert, I also edit dissertation and diss-into-book projects for non-native speakers of English. When editing for presses, the pay is not good, but the last two jobs that I contracted (just this month), I quoted $35, and I found out through a friend that one of the people said "that's a bargain!" The other client didn't blink.

But do ask to see the manuscrip and edit 5 pages. Clock how long it takes you. And then ask the author: "Is this what you expect me to produce?" Make sure his expectations are completely clear to you.

fwiw there are several different levels of editing: developmental, substantive, copy editing, and proofreading. He is probably expecting a heavy copy edit of the work, but if he expects substantive editing, it is going to take you even longer than a heavy edit and you ought to know the subject matter well.

Good luck!

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