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Three students dressed in navy blue graduation robes stand facing a brick building with a sign saying academics. They have their graduation caps raised as if to throw them into the air.

IPEd’s Standing Committee on Academic Editing (SCAE) looks into university funding for thesis editing. Image: Leon Wu on Unsplash

If you’ve edited a few PhD theses, you’ll probably be aware that students are sometimes able to get help from their university to pay for this. However, experience suggests that the availability and amount of funding can vary enormously, and that the amount covered by universities often falls significantly short of the actual costs of editing. This can have an impact on editors’ ability to assist students.

IPEd’s Standing Committee on Academic Editing (SCAE) was keen to look into this further, and recently conducted a desktop review of relevant university policies. Two key findings emerged from this. First, comprehensive information about how much funding is available is hard to come by. While some data about centrally allocated funding were available, it is clear from both the review and anecdotal evidence that many universities decentralise student research support funding to schools, faculties, departments or supervisors. Multiple sources of funding could potentially be available to students, not just those that come from centrally managed university funds.

Second, the available data suggest that funding arrangements, scope and quantity vary. For example, while many universities provide some financial support to students for research-related costs, some explicitly include thesis editing as one way this money can be used; a few explicitly exclude it; and many do not specify one way or the other. Sometimes a small amount of money is allocated specifically to the costs of thesis production, and in other cases funding is available for a wide range of expenses associated with research. Some universities specify higher levels of support for students undertaking “high cost” research, while others do not make such a distinction.

These findings need to be treated cautiously, and a deeper exploration of this issue would need more than a brief desktop review. However, the exercise certainly suggests that efforts by IPEd to promote the value of editing and educate clients about editor pay rates remain important for thesis editing. Information about the indicative costs of academic editing, fair pay rates for editors and the benefits of academic editing is available on the IPEd website.

Do you have a story about your own experience of student clients’ access to funding? And what about university funding for other types of academic editing, such as journal articles, reports or books? If you’d like to share your thoughts, please email the SCAE chair, Emily Finlay, at: