6 Tips to Self-Edit Your Dissertation

5 min readJun 1, 2022


Dissertations are mostly written at the end of a graduation program. For most students, it is an initiation into doing research work. Any research work would only come across as half-baked if it hasn’t gone through several drafts as well as several rounds of editing and proofreading.

Self-editing includes all the changes you make to further enhance the language, structure, and ideas of your dissertation after you have completed writing it. You can always approach a professional for editing your dissertation, but it is always better to edit your dissertation based on your capacity even if you choose to do that. This blog will provide you with the necessary tips if you plan to self-edit your dissertation.

These are the things to keep in mind before you start the self-editing process

  • Don’t edit while you are working on the paper: It is always a good idea to keep the editing for the last part while working on your dissertation. This means that you will have to keep some time after you complete your dissertation for its editing. Make sure that you leave out at least 3 days to a week for editing your document.
  • Consider it as part of self-evaluation: During the first round of editing, you are likely to find many grammatical and mechanical errors in your document. Correct them as much as you can, but make sure that your sole focus is not only on the language of your dissertation but also the way you have structured those arguments. You can also choose to ignore the grammatical part in the beginning and focus instead on how you are spacing out the arguments, such as whether you need more sub-sections or eliminate the redundant ones.
  • Know your University’s requirements: Self-editing gives you a chance to go through your whole dissertation once again before its submission. It is a good time to go over your University’s guidelines once again to make note of the formatting requirements (such as font, font size, line spacing, etc.), style of language prescribed (UK or British English, etc.), prescribed citation styles (MLA, CMOS, APA style guide, etc.). Universities either have a detailed set of guidelines to be followed or they suggest a generally preferred style guide. It is significant that you read over the prescribed style guide to incorporate changes accordingly as you edit your dissertation.
  • Edit in sections: Once you have made sure that the overall organizational structure of your dissertation is commendable, move on to focus on smaller sections. You could start from the beginning or choose a particular chapter or section and do a line-by-line reading of your document. This is when you would discover and weed out most of the errors in your document. The tips for conducting in-depth editing of your dissertation are provided below.

6 Tips for Self-editing your Dissertation

We are providing you with a list of 6 pointers that will help you self-edit your dissertation.

  1. One Word at a Time

As much as it is important to focus on the larger aspects of your text and the way you have carried on from one chapter to another, a line-by-line reading should never be underestimated. When you are proofreading, you are not just checking for the typos or spelling mistakes, you are considering whether every word fits in where it does. Take a seat as a reader and try to gauge if a person reading your document for the first time will understand and make sense of each line.

2. Check the flow of your arguments

Many researchers make the mistake of forgetting that their writing is aimed at a reader, who will probably be familiar with the subject matter. Try to analyze if the complex sentences in your dissertation can be simplified or phrased in a better way to increase the flow and readability of the language. Ultimately, question whether your way of writing a certain idea is helping the reader to understand that idea or whether it would deter them from further reading your dissertation.

3. Re-check the basics of grammar and punctuation

Now, the scholar that you are, you might think it is rather unnecessary for you to read over a Grammar textbook. But you don’t really have to do that. What is important for any editor, self-appointed or not, is to double-check and do research on everything that they are not sure of.

Feel a comma is unnecessary? Go google whether that punctuation is used in a certain scenario. It might seem tiring to head to an entire article to figure out the usage of a minor punctuational error, but it will definitely hone your editing skills as you go ahead.

4. Run a spell check

You can either do this before you do a line-by-line checking or after you do that. Set the style of English (UK or US) that you are following for the document as default and run a spell-check. The spell-check is a quick way to spot and correct the spelling errors in your document.

You can also use certain popular applications for weeding out grammatical and spelling errors such as Grammarly or Hemmingway Editor for the same purpose.

5. Check the consistency of the used terms

If you are working on your dissertation, it is important to make sure that you are being consistent with the terms you use. If you are using abbreviations or acronyms, ensure that those have been expanded the first time you used those. Also, re-check whether the technical terms you have used are spelled the same way throughout the document.

6. Use Google Scholar

Google Scholar is a free database that allows you to search through the published studies. It can come in handy if you are uncertain in a certain academic jargon is used in a particular way or is acceptable within a certain field. You can search for that term in Google Scholar to see how many hits it brings from the published academic papers. You can re-check the context in which the term is used to avoid hassles in the future.

Let’s Sum Up

This blog has outlined some of the things you need to keep in mind if you are self-editing your dissertation. While you edit your dissertation, you are placing yourself in the shoes of an editor; thus, it is important to maintain some level of objectivity. Self-editing requires you to approach your document with a new lens so that the errors can be done away with effectively. As a fellow editor, I hope the article has equipped you with the necessary tips and tricks for editing your dissertation.

-Lily Brooke





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