The Value of Referrals

Students find editors in different ways. The focus of this post is referrals.

I believe a referral is the best way. Referrals come already tried and tested. After all, isn’t that how we conduct most of your lives. You see a movie, you like it or hate it and guess what: you tell friends and family. They in turn are influenced by what you say. You want to eat out. You might look at what the food critics say. The most reliable referrals come from your mentor/advisor/supervisor/chair or from satisfied fellow students.

First prize is an advisor’s referral. Think about why an advisor’s referral is valuable. The savvy advisor will refer editors who know the basics well (good English, sensitivity to style issue, and excellent formatting knowledge) and deliver that bit extra. This makes life easier for that advisor and of course for you the student. Of course, be sure that you, your advisor, and your committee have done the required content work first. Do not expect the editor to be “Mr Fix-It.” Not a copy editor’s work. If not sure what I mean here, go back and read the series of posts about how to choose an editor or editing service. In my next post, I’ll talk a bit about content editing, which is a completely different process.

The next referral prize is a satisfied student client. This does not guarantee you will have the same good experience. But there is a good chance you will. Figure out what your fellow student’s expectations were. Were they met? I’ve found that students who view editing as a process and a partnership with an editor are most likely to refer. Students who simply wanted a “quick fix” are often disappointed and so will not refer. They find it difficult to engage with the steady but bumpy road of doctoral writing and expect an editor to produce a speedy highway.

I’ve known all sorts of other people to refer: parents, family members, friends, work colleagues, employers, almost anyone in your life. The important point is to know what you want and to know what to expect. The right attitude will take you a million miles :).

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