I am a professional freelance editor. I edited a thesis and subsequently the candidate has refused to pay my fee. Can I claim intellectual property rights over those editing changes and require the candidate not to use them in their submitted or published thesis?

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    "I edited a thesis" Is this legal in your country?
    – Nobody
    Aug 21, 2016 at 12:08
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    @scaaahu it is fairly common when the thesis is written in English by a non native speaker. I see no problem in that, neither legal nor moral. The thesis is supposed to show that the candidate can do independent research. Letting somebody else check the English is good practice in real research, so why not during the thesis? Aug 21, 2016 at 12:53
  • @MaartenBuis I think it depends on what the OP meant by "edit". If the OP simply fixed the grammar errors, what is the "intellectual property rights" the OP is talking about?
    – Nobody
    Aug 21, 2016 at 12:59
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    @scaaahu my suspicion is that the OP is thinking in the wrong direction. Instead of property rights (s)he should think in terms of a contract. Aug 21, 2016 at 13:03
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    @MaartenBuis: "The thesis is supposed to show that the candidate can do independent research" - well, it depends on the amount of editing necessary, but the thesis is also, somehow, useful for showing that the PhD candidate is able to present their work in a coherent text that is usable without excessive efforts in post-processing. Indeed, I consider that a part of "doing independent research" (or, let's say, doing pretty much anything related to information or knowledge independently). Aug 21, 2016 at 16:00

1 Answer 1


I think you'd be well within your rights to take the offender to Small Claims Court for non-payment.

  • Thanks for that advice and it's probably what I will do.
    – mochaval
    Aug 22, 2016 at 22:28
  • @mochaval No problem. Good luck. Aug 22, 2016 at 22:32

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