Being in the last stages of writing-up your PhD means facing the very mind-numbing process of editing. Apologies to all the professional proof-readers out there, but when you are not devout to the beauty and exactness of the written word, this is really hard and annoying. The challenges you might face when editing your PhD, or any significant written piece, are multiple:
You’ve written it. This might seem quite obvious, but since you’ve produced the work, it’s almost impossible to cast a fresh pair of eyes on it, no matter how many days you try to put between readings. Sometimes, you also just don’t have time to put it away and go back to it.
You’re not writing in your mother language. Also very obvious given the quantity of people that get a PhD in a foreign language, but this is a true challenge: you don’t go from passing your TOEFL to writing in perfect academic English overnight.
It is boring. Let’s face it, you might be very excited by your PhD topic, editing 300 pages about it several times is not the most thrilling part of the process.
I am currently on the very last stretch, and it is hard for me to reflect properly. I have decided not to pay a professional proof-reader to do the job for me as I don’t think the amount of edits would be worth the money invested. Instead, I’m tackling the issues this way:
Attending an editing seminar offered by my university. I did simple language and syntax exercises that helped me pinpoint areas where I was weaker.
Asking a linguist friend to proofread the the intro and conclusion. Her feedback and comments comforted me in the idea that I did not need the job done on the whole thesis, and also helped me identify a few recurring mistakes. Depending on your written English proficiency, you might not need this done at all, or you might need it for the whole thesis…it’s up to you to decide.
Printing. For a reason that really escapes me, I realised that I find mistakes much more easily when reading on paper. This is really not environmentally-friendly at this scale, so I am printing double-sided and two sheets per page.
How did you find the process of editing and proof-reading your PhD? Are you dreading getting to it? How did you/will you tackle it?