Susan Murray

Dissertation and scholarly book editing




I offer professional copyediting and developmental editing of dissertations and theses in the humanities. I specialize in working with academic faculty, graduate students, and PhD candidates to ensure that projects adhere to a specific style (e.g., APA, MLA, Chicago) and present ideas clearly and effectively. Whether your dissertation needs a simple review for style and copyediting issues or a more substantive edit to bring your ideas to the fore, I have the experience and expertise required to meet your editorial needs.

I have edited hundreds of book manuscripts, including many dissertation manuscripts reworked into an author’s first book. Many of these first-time publications were produced through the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation’s American Literatures Initiative, a collaborative effort, with five university presses, whose mission was to support first-time authors in underserved areas of the humanities.

My clients include the University of Virginia Press, Louisiana State University Press, University Press of Florida, University Press of Kentucky, University of Georgia Press, NYU Press, and Fordham University Press, among many others.

My titles have included award-winning scholarly works, short-story collections, memoirs, biographies, and many works focused on politics and southern culture and history. I have built my success across many disciplines on close, respectful collaboration with authors, intellectual curiosity, and a commitment to precision editing.


B.A., German, University of New Hampshire

M.A.,  English literature, University of Florida



A selection of books I've had the pleasure of copyediting, many reflecting my own interest in politics, nature, history, art, and architecture. I am a longtime Floridian who started my editing career at the University Press of Florida, and my portfolio is heavy with books about Florida—and southern—history, nature, and culture. Many interesting and high-quality book manuscripts have come my way over the years from the University of Virginia Press, particularly works on political history, architecture, and the environment. I’ve edited several of the works in the University Press of Kentucky’s Political Companions to Great American Authors series, most recently, A Political Companion to Flannery O’Connor. And in the ten years I’ve edited for Louisiana State University Press, my titles have included many Louisiana-related history monographs, biographies, literary studies, as well as novels in the Yellow Shoe Fiction series.

Selected Clients




I charge $48/hour for copyediting, regardless of the level of editing required. This means that clients are billed only for the hours I work.

Although some dissertation editors bill by the page, per-page charges penalize authors who require lighter editing; and the assessment of the level of editing required—on which many editors base their charges—can be highly subjective.

I charge $72/hour for developmental editing of dissertations and theses; developmental editing requires assessment and reorganization of a project on a deeper, structural level.

I charge $27/hour for proofreading, which is limited to correcting typos, spelling, and grammatical errors. When requesting proofreading, keep in mind that it is a simple checking process of a project you consider complete and that it does not include the services including in copyediting.




For a free dissertation editing estimate, please fill out the contact form below. You will need to submit:

  1. Your dissertation in a single Microsoft Word file.

  2. Your description of the editorial services wanted, along with any other important information about your dissertation, such as your deadlines and required style guides or university guidelines. I've included an open section for this information, which is important in terms of getting—and keeping—your project on the right track.

  3. Your name, email address, and university/college. I require this information because most institutions maintain quite detailed resource databases for graduate writers, which are equally useful to editors implementing a specific style.

Following receipt of your contact form and attached dissertation file, I'll reply with an estimate that’s based on my evaluation of the work involved, your requested level of editing, and the document’s page count. My fee for the actual work, though, is hourly.

If you accept the estimate and would like to schedule your dissertation editing, you pay me half of the estimate as a nonrefundable deposit. We then have a binding contract based on the terms listed below, and I will schedule your project.

I accept credit card payment through PayPal. For each payment—up-front deposit and remaining balance upon completion—I will email you a PayPal Business invoice. Under certain circumstances, I will also accept payment by money order or an alternative secure online service. This will be handled on a case-by-case basis.

When my editing is complete, I’ll send you an invoice for the remaining balance of the full payment.

Once payment is received, I will e-mail you two documents: One will show all editing changes made with Word’s “Track Changes” feature; the other will be a clean document, with all editing changes incorporated.


Every student has questions specific to his or her dissertation, and those are the ones we would address together on a case-by-case basis. Other, general questions about copyediting are common enough that I’ll address them here, before you decide what kind of editing is best suited to your project. I want to be clear about what professional copyediting can (and cannot) accomplish in terms of polishing your dissertation or thesis. Although this isn’t an all-inclusive FAQ, you may well find some of your first questions answered here.


“This last section of my [dissertation/thesis] is giving me a lot of trouble. Is there any way you could rewrite it for me?”

Ghostwriting—or writing anonymously for someone who is presented as the author—is not a service I offer. Ghostwriting for students is unethical; it’s also illegal in Florida and several other states. The trend among colleges and universities is to raise the bar in terms of original content requirements and citation standards, so it’s best to err on the side of caution with your dissertation or thesis. Copyediting and proofreading are permissible, but I will not complete your academic writing for you.


“How far in advance of my deadline should I book editing services?”

It’s best to schedule editing services as early as possible. I will schedule your project as soon as I receive payment of half the agreed-upon estimate (see “Procedure”).


 “May I send you my dissertation in sections, as I write it?” 

You’ll need to submit the complete dissertation in one file for an accurate price estimate and cost-efficient editing.


“May I pay for the editing in installments?”  

I require payment of half the agreed-upon estimate when accepting your dissertation file for editing, with the remaining balance of the bill due on completion of the project. I don’t accept payment in additional installments.


“I’ve noticed that some other dissertation/thesis editors offer guarantees that my academic writing will be accepted. What guarantees do you offer?”

I can guarantee that your dissertation or thesis will conform to the required standards of style and formatting. Final acceptance of your dissertation remains your responsibility, however. I can help you present your ideas and/or findings in clear, concise language. Creating or developing those ideas falls outside the purview of the editor, however.


Contact susan Murray

Call me (352-234-4206) or e-mail me ( to discuss your project's editing. You're also welcome to fill out the form below. I will respond via email within two days. I look forward to speaking with you!



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