I'm a PhD student in engineering. My supervisor would like to pay me to edit a colleague's thesis for grammar and form. He asked me to look around for the going rate and let him know, but I'm not really sure of what figure to go by. Some thesis editing services are run by people with PhDs in literature and charge a lot, and others are run by upper year undergraduates and only ask for a small fee. What would be a reasonable rate to charge for such service in North America?

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    I'm going to flag this for being too broad. The only answer possible is "what the market will bear." You can give a representative spread of your competitors, argue for why you are pricing where you are, and then negotiate (usually downward) from there.
    – RoboKaren
    Commented Sep 19, 2014 at 13:59
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    A reasonable starting point might be to look at the stipend you receive for research/teaching and compute an hourly wage. This might not really get at the value of the work, but it has something to do with the value of your time. Commented Sep 19, 2014 at 14:02
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    If I were to ballpark it, I'd say 15-20 per hour of effort. Technical editing is not something you can expect anyone to do, and at this level of editing, the quality and education level of both the writer and the editor should be taken into account.
    – Compass
    Commented Sep 19, 2014 at 14:07
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    @Compass: Is 15-20 in units of dollars? If so, then that's absurdly low, comparable to minimum wage in some areas of the US. The problem is that the person who wants the thesis edited is a grad student, and therefore won't be able to pay anything approximating market rates for this kind of skilled work.
    – user1482
    Commented Sep 19, 2014 at 18:53
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    @Compass: Nobody here can say what is a reasonable price per page, since we don't know how good or bad the person's English is. If it's really horrible, then it might need to be essentially rewritten, which could take an hour for a page, and then a fair market rate would probably be about $50-100/page, depending on the editor's qualifications and on how much technical knowledge of the material is required.
    – user1482
    Commented Sep 20, 2014 at 22:45

1 Answer 1


I don't have a better estimate than http://www.the-efa.org/res/rates.php whose rates work out to about 2 cents a word for basic copy editing or about 40 dollars an hour. For a thesis which is going to be very technical, I would expect someone with relevant expertise to get more. Grammar and form, probably is close to basic copy editing, but is probably more involved than that.

  • That sounds much more reasonable than $15-$20/hr. I do not know anyone with technical knowledge who would work so cheap ($20)...but they might do it for $40/hr.
    – earthling
    Commented Sep 20, 2014 at 11:54
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    I doubt that basic copy editing is what is required here. The situation sounds like one in which the person who wrote the thesis does not speak English natively. "Heavy copyediting" might be more like it, and that would about double the price according to their guidelines.
    – user1482
    Commented Sep 21, 2014 at 1:07

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