Deciding whether or not to hire a proofreader for your PhD is a big commitment. Whichever way you look at it, it’s expensive.

Plus, you may think that your English language skills are good enough.

So why bother?

In this post we list ten reasons why you need a proofreader for your PhD.

By the end, you will see that it’s about more than typos. It’s about the value of having a professional and independent writing expert comb your thesis to make sure you have presented your research in the most compelling manner possible.

The peace of mind that brings is priceless.

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1 : It’s a cost effective solution to a critical requirement

Let’s be frank. By the time you’ve finished a PhD you’ve likely spent (or borrowed) thousands and dedicated years of your life. You need to hire a proofreader to make sure you don’t undermine that investment by submitting something that contains errors or that is badly written.

Not everyone is good at writing complex texts. That's fine and nothing to be ashamed about. You know from your literature review that most academics struggle to write in a compelling manner. We see it all the time; fantastic PhD research gets undermined by poor quality writing. In any other industry, if there is a skill you aren't fantastic at, you can get outside assistance. Your PhD is no different.

A proofreader will work with you to give your research the love it deserves.

2 : You will maximise your chances of passing first time

One of the things that PhD examiners are looking for is your ability to write clearly and coherently and that your writing is error-free. If your thesis contains grammatical or punctuation mistakes, or if it is poorly written in general, they’ll likely send it back to you for further work.

 Sure, a proofreader may be expensive, but so will months of extra corrections.

3 : You will present your research in the best possible light

A proofreader will correct your grammatical and punctuation mistakes and suggest edits that will mean your arguments are as clear and well developed as possible. Their job is to present your research in the most compelling manner possible.

This means the examiner can focus on what you’ve written, not how you’ve written it. You’ll be surprised what a difference that makes.

4 : You will reach the required level of English

You may struggle to write to the required level of English, perhaps because you’re an international student. A proofreader will make sure your thesis reads fluently. When they’re finished, it’ll read as if a native speaker wrote it, because it would have been checked by one.

5 : You are paying for the expertise of a professional

You wouldn’t trust the health of your pet to someone who wasn’t a vet. So why trust your PhD to someone who hasn’t been down that road before you?

Proofreading your thesis is about more than just correcting typos; it’s about making sure that your writing is fluent and consistent and that you’re developing and presenting your arguments in the best possible way.

There’s an art to writing a PhD that you would only know if you have written one yourself. Make sure that your proofreader has a PhD themselves, so they know what's expected.

6 : You can delegate the workload

In the run up to submission - or indeed at any other time of the writing process - you’re going to be busy.
Really busy.

Don’t underestimate how much there is to do. At The PhD Proofreaders we do things other proofreading companies don’t do (such as formatting your thesis, dealing with all the necessary paperwork, checking your references, and more). This frees you up to focus on other things.

7 : You need a fresh set of eyes

By the time you’ve finished your chapter or thesis, you are so familiar with it you are unable to spot your own mistakes.

There’s a scientific reason for this. As you write, your brain starts to generalise simple, component parts (such as the links between individual letters and words) so that it can focus on the more complicated tasks (such as linking entire sentences and paragraphs).

That means that, because our brain knows what we are trying to say in our own writing (we wrote it, after all), we expect the meaning to be there. What we see when we read our own work is competing with the version that already exists in our heads.

The means you need a fresh set of eyes to look over your work. A proofreader can provide them and easily spot mistakes that you would otherwise miss.

8: You'll get independent advice

A lot of people ask their friends of family to proofread their work. This presents two problems.

    They’re not experts, either in proofreading or your discipline.
    They can’t be honest in their feedback because they aren’t independent.

A proofreader isn’t just a professional, but they’re independent and impartial. That means that they can be honest in their appraisal and assessment of your work, just like your examiner will.   

9 : You will get a human, not an algorithms

There are a number of free, online tools that claim to correct your language. These are fine for emails to your supervisor, but they’re useless as correcting complex texts like PhD theses or chapters. You need a professional, not a Silicon Valley algorithm.

10 : Proofreading is supported by universities across the world

Universities have recently begun publishing guidelines on proofreading. Almost all allow proofreading and many actively encourage it, particularly for international students and those for whom English is a second language. If in doubt, check with your supervisor.

Note though that there is a difference between proofreading and copy editing that you should be aware of, as it has implications for whether or not your work can be considered your own. Proofreading is about making sure your language is appropriate and clear, whereas copy editing is about restructuring or rewriting your text in substantial ways. A good proofreader will only focus on language, a bad one will copy edit. Read this post for more details on the difference between the two.