Dissertation editors are like plumbers

Or electricians or appliance or furnace repair technicians…

Prepare for a mini rant. When I was at the end of writing my dissertation I was a complete noodle. Emotionally. Intellectually. Physically. Financially. I know what a doctoral program costs. In addition to the actual costs of books and tuition there are the opportunity costs. Maybe you have to take time off work or can’t work as many hours because you’re working on your, say it with me now, “damn dissertation.” And there are costs involved in doing practicums. (I did two consulting practicums in Kiev, Ukraine and probably could have found something closer to home but wouldn’t have missed those experiences for the world.)

How we estimate editing costs

Back to my point. You’ve finished your proposal or completed your research and turned in all five chapters and your chair/advisor suggests you get an editor or you decide yourself you’d like an editor to go over it one last time. In my experience, if an advisor/chair suggests an editor, you need one! So you contact someone like me or another academic editor and ask for an estimate. Editors are different but here’s what I do/say: Send me your proposal or dissertation complete with references and appendices and I’ll edit a couple pages to tell you what it will cost and how long it will take. I also say that I track my time in 15-minute increments and will charge less if it takes less time than I think…but it won’t cost more if it takes more time than I estimated.

Costs are not-negotiable

Sounds pretty straightforward doesn’t it? Apparently not to some people. Here’s an email thread from a recent estimate:

Doctoral candidate: My name is ____________ and I am a doctoral student at ___________. My dissertation is 63 pages long and has mostly been edited by my chair and committee members. I have been given the go ahead to have final editing completed for submission to proqwest. I am wondering if you can provide me with information about your services, including an estimate of cost and how long it might take.

My response to the original query: Hi _________. I reviewed your dissertation and edited a few sample pages. I estimate it would cost about $350. I track my time in 15 minute increments so if it doesn’t take me as long as I think that’s all I charge you for. But I don’t charge if I go over the estimate. I would like a week to complete the editing. Let me know!

Doctoral candidate: I was hoping not to spend more than $250.00 as I am on a budget, being a poor college student. Dr. _____, the director of the program, has asked us to provide him with the edits to review once our editor has finished. He would like to create his own list of dissertation editors for the program.

My response: I hear you about finances (having recently completed my doctorate) but know that my rates are reasonable. As I mentioned I do keep track of my time but feel the amount I quoted you is pretty accurate. Believe me I will not be hurt if you go with someone else. I get a lot of referrals from professors at _____ who are familiar with my work and think I will continue to do so. Best of luck to you!

Doctoral candidate: I didn’t mean to offend you and did not mean to imply that your rates were not reasonable. I am sure your work is very good and that you receive a lot of referrals from _________. I was simply stating that I was “hoping to keep the cost around $250, because that is all of the money I can afford at this point.” I suppose I should have followed that statement with would you take a payment arrangement for the additional $100. I suppose I was waiting for you to provide me with options you might be willing to work out versus being direct and asking. So this is good learning lesson.

My response: Thanks for the explanation. I am not comfortable negotiating my rate or the payment terms (within 7 days of emailing file) — makes it seem a little too commoditized (a word?) for me. Maybe ______ writing center could help?

Why dissertation editors are like plumbers

When the water won’t go down in your tub (or comes up in your toilet—yuck) you call a plumber and are told that the service call is $85.00 plus so much for every ¼ hour and parts and whatever. Same with an appliance or furnace repair person or electrician. And heaven forbid you need someone outside of regular business hours which of course you always do. If you don’t like what they charge you can move on to someone else. It’s all up front – no negotiating.

If someone doesn’t like what I charge or my payment terms or want to work with me, that’s their business. But I don’t think they should try to negotiate rates or say they’ll refer me if I give them a deal. Or, as one person suggested, “If you charge less for the proposal I’ll give you my entire dissertation.” They wouldn’t do it with a plumber…or maybe they would!

By the way…it wouldn’t normally be $350 for 63 pages but I could tell from editing just a few pages that this dissertation would require a boatload of editing. I mean, who spells “phenomenological” incorrectly in the title? Not a good sign.

Dr. Kat

Fun, fast, experienced, reasonably priced dissertation editing, coaching, and therapy.
Contact drkatcannon@dissedit.com

©2016 KathleenJCannon