Louisa and John

Expert Dissertation Editing for Scholars

Writing a dissertation demands tremendous effort and dedication over an extended period of time.  Most doctoral candidates conferring back and forth with committee chairs end up revising their work numerous times, until they have rehashed the same material so many times they can no longer view it with objective distance.

Good writing results from a convergence of quality content, audience awareness, and well crafted style.  Unfortunately, under the circumstances most candidates face, this happy combination becomes quite difficult to achieve!  Repeated changes made in response to committee chairs’ feedback (which is often hurried and off-the-cuff) can improve the content but often at the cost of disrupted flow and clarity.  What’s needed is an intelligent reader who can understand the intended flow of ideas and optimize phrasing to convey it most effectively.

Sample edits

Having offered a dissertation editing service for over eight years, I have developed adroit skills for refining and clarifying research arguments.  For example, in the sample above, I cut extra words, strengthen verbs, and create parallelism for maximum clarity.  I also supply a topic sentence to clarify a paragraph’s purpose and provide the reader an onramp.  I suggest additions and cuts per academic standards for specificity and lack of redundancy.  Of course, I also correct errors in grammar and punctuation.

The results prove not only rewarding for me, but often crucial for my clients.  Committees are pleased by the clarity of the text, which actually lends credence to the validity of the study and findings.  Clients who came to me discouraged and distraught have won prizes and published their work.

I am happy to answer any questions about my methods and to provide a paid sample of one hour’s edits.  I am also available to edit articles for peer-reviewed scholarly journals.

Personal Statement Do’s and Don’ts

Admission committees often weigh personal statements as heavily as test scores and grades.  Even if you have terrific scores and a stellar GPA, you can be rejected based an a weak personal statement.  Conversely, if your numbers are borderline but your personal statement paints you as a dynamic, aware, and giving person, the committee may decide you’ll be an asset to their school community.  It all depends on the person they see projected through your statement.

Most personal statement prompts ask similar questions.

  • How have your past experiences led you to apply for our program?
  • What obstacles or difficulties have you overcome?
  • Why do you want to work as a ___________?
  • What are your professional goals?

The committee readers want specifics.  Whatever your answer, it has to present you as a unique individual able to articulate ideas about the significance and and impact your past experiences have had on you and how they have shaped your thinking today.  That means strong personal statements are personal.  Yet they also have to show a balanced person who understands boundaries and is able to cope.  That means strong personal statements are academic/professional.

  • DO tell stories with vivid details both external (what happened) and internal (how you felt, what you thought).
  • DO keep the focus on yourself, rather than on other people who influenced or inspired you.
  • DO edit your work carefully so that it is as concise and well written as possible.
  • DO present an optimistic vision of your goals, particularly how you intend to contribute and help others
  • DO reflect on your own personal assets without letting modesty prevent you, but…



  • DON’T brag or come across as arrogant
  • DON’T rely on clichés or overuse words like “passionate.”
  • DON’T come across as a victim or as seeking pity
  • DON’T praise their school/program to the point where you sound sycophantic.
  • DON’T procrastinate!

Collaborating with an editor or coach is an excellent way to get a second perspective on your statement.  While the content, of course, has to come from you, an editor or coach can help you polish your statement, making it more concise and efficient to paint a better picture of your ideas, as well as eliminating grammatical errors that would otherwise count against you.

Louisa Peck has worked with dozens of applicants to craft successful personal statements that have gotten qualified candidates accepted at the schools of their choice.

She is available either in person in the Seattle area or via Skype or Facetime for those distantly located.  A one to two hour session is usually enough time to revise a solid first draft.

Contact her today for help at writingtutor22@gmail.com

Dissertation Editor – Seattle’s Best

How can you find a truly qualified dissertation editor for your dissertation? To be able to work with academic writing, a dissertation editor needs skills that far exceed those of your average copy editor. As a doctoral candidate, you need an editor who is also an intelligent and insightful reader, one able to follow and perhaps even scrutinize your thought process. If you want an editor to go beyond catching errors to actually clarify and improve your expression, you need one who understands the ideas you’re putting forth. For this reason, you should seek out an academic editor with exposure to a wide breadth of disciplines.

Louisa Peck’s Vassar College education included not only a BA in English with honors, but also a minor in Philosophy as well as studies in Economics, Psychology, Chemistry, Art, Dance, and History. As a graduate student at the University of Washington, she studied Critical Theory as well as more in-depth philosophy. Later, during her four years of teaching Technical Writing for Computing Professionals, she became fluent in the terminology used to reference software programs and computing hardware. Finally, as Director of the UW’s English Department Writing Center, Louisa Peck taught a 400-level course in Writing Pedagogy, which familiarized her with many topics essential to the field of Education.

Louisa has edited dissertations both locally and remotely in a variety of fields ranging from Music to Political Science to American History, Education, Chinese Literature, and Medicine. For Ph.D. candidates at various stages of drafting and revising their dissertation, it makes great sense to work with a high caliber dissertation editing service such as Louisa Peck’s.

Find a Great Writing Tutor

For about four years now, I’ve been teaching clients to improve their writing, meeting primarily in coffee shops around Seattle.  My clients range from Amazon senior managers to high school students, and from college-level English teachers to non-native speakers.  For all of them, I create a fun, vigorous learning environment that engages their interest and promotes progress in the areas where they need it most.  (Note: I’m also available for online tutoring via Skype and Google docs.)

  • Rapport:  The connection between the writing tutor (or writing coach, as I prefer) is the most important aspect of the tutoring process.  If the tutor and writer don’t connect as people, the learning environment will be stiff and uncomfortable.  I taught college English for many years, acting as an authority figure because I was responsible for leading a class of 25.  One-to-one tutoring is a whole different ballgame!  It’s more like we’re hanging out together and working on these writing skills.  Often, when I give an on-the-spot writing task, I also write alongside the client, and we compare our products afterwards.  This takes away any sense of pressure on the client: we are both interested in the writing “workout.”
  • Resources: Over the years I’ve amassed an extensive database of online grammar, syntax, and composition exercises.  The interactive nature of these quiz and exercise pages makes them fun, but I also use them as learning tools.  If my client appears about to click on a wrong answer, I’ll say, “Are you sure you want to do that?” Sometimes the client realizes their mistake immediately, but other times I ask follow-up questions to help them zoom in on the pertinent issue.  Gradually, they learn the principles involved and become able to pick out right answers on their own.
  • Timing: Most of my clients meet with me weekly for one hour.  This is the perfect amount of time to absorb a given lesson, but doesn’t require a lot of time investment.  In many cases, clients and I meet on their lunch hour near their work, so that no time is lost from their day or evening by driving to a special class.  Some clients – usually high school students – do get brief homework assignments to put into practice what we’ve been working on.
  • Atmosphere: Meeting in a coffee shop lets us enjoy a beverage and snack as we work while cafe life goes on around us.  This stands in sharp contrast to a sterile, fluorescent-lit classroom.  On gray, cold, and rainy Seattle afternoons, what could be cozier than to settle down with a hot latte, chocolate chip cookie, and our laptops to work on our writing skills?
  • Expertise:  As my resume indicates, I have extensive background in teaching writing, training tutors, and explaining grammar.  I served as resident grammar expert on the University of Washington’s “Ask Betty” grammar question web-hotline and have learned even more as a result of teaching ESL to individual clients.  Can you name the four kinds of conditional statements?  What’s the predicate nominative, also known as subject complement?  I can teach you! You, too, can become a grammar expert!

If you’re interested in scheduling a no-cost consultation to talk about your writing skills and challenges, just shoot me an email via this website or email directly to writingtutor22@gmail.com


Professional Dissertation Editor vs. Automated Sevice

Spellcheckers and grammar-checkers have definitely come a long way in the past few years.  To see what the latest technology is like, I recently signed up for a temporary membership to Grammarly, which allowed me to use their automated grammar-checker and find out how it might stack up against a professional dissertation editor.  The results?  On the one hand, I was impressed with the sophistication of the technology.  The program clearly understands basic English syntax and predicts common errors.  But the fact was, 95% of the constructions it flagged were useless.  In short, there’s STILL no substitute for a real, living, intelligent dissertation editor.

The main goal of a dissertation is to establish a sound argument.  As a candidate, you want to persuade a critical audience (your committee and colleagues at large) that your research is solid, your methodology is appropriate, and your dissertation makes a valuable contribution to the current pool of literature.  To accomplish this with authority, you need clear, concise, and disambiguated language of a complexity that often exceeds the scope of automated checkers.  A professional editor follows your argument from the perspective of your committee.  S/he looks for places where the language could be tightened, or where a possible derailment of ideas can be avoided.  Automated checkers cannot achieve this.  There are times when passive voice is appropriate, when you do want to use to relative clauses in a row, and so on. It all depends on context.

Lastly, when your writing flows more smoothly and efficiently, your reader is more likely to be convinced of your points.  As a professional writer and instructor of writing, I’m able to fortify your verb use and vary your choice of phrase construction.  Often writers have a few syntactical forms they prefer and rely on heavily, while they leave a wide array of other possibly constructions untapped.  My job as an editor is not only to catch errors and clarify your argument, but to vary your sentence types and structures to facilitate optimal readability for your audience.



Editing Your Dissertation: What makes a great editor?

If you’re writing a dissertation or a paper for publication, chances are you’ve become an expert in your field.  You’ve been immersed in research, maybe for years, and the process of synthesizing all that information into a single document feels like giving birth to an elephant. You submit a draft, and your adviser tells you need an editor. What do you do?

There are countless editing services out there, but finding an editor who READS deeply, FOLLOWS your ideas, and OPTIMIZES their expression isn’t easy. Here are some of the strong points of my service that have earned me the testimonials I have to date, both here and on my Thumbtack page.

  • Style: Many writers aren’t aware of the default sentence structures they tend to overuse. Weak verbs, passive and “there/it is” constructions, overly convoluted or choppy, disconnected sentences – all these can detract from your reader’s experience. I convert your sentences to livelier prose without affecting your ideas. If I’m ever concerned that I may have altered an idea, I mark the phrase or passage for your special attention.
  • Cutting redundancy:  Say it once, say it well.  In the specific formats required for many disciplines, it’s easy to inadvertently say the same thing twice or three times.  Admittedly, a point made under Methods may be similar to one made under Findings.  But identical phrasing?  You don’t want that.  I can catch these redundancies and root them out.
  • Grammar and punctuation:  I find and fix errors.  (I was Betty for the UW’s “Ask Betty” grammar site for four years.)
  • APA, Chicago, MLA:  These formats all change their requirements almost yearly (I suspect so the associations can sell more guides).  I cull the internet for the latest formats and crosscheck them with those of your institution.
  • Nice person:  I may be a dissertation editor, but I’m also a former scholar and a kind, respectful individual.  I work with you on a personal basis, understanding the importance of this document and the pressures you’re under to submit it on time.   Over time, we develop a mutual trust and cordial friendship.
  • Great Price: At $70/hour, my rate is low, considering the rare ability I have to assimilate complex ideas and clarify their expression. Many editing services charge per word or even per character, whereas I charge for actual WORK. Exactly how many pages I can edit in an hour varies with the number of edits per page.  I may sail through thirteen pages per hour with light edits, or have to slog through at seven per hour for ESL writers with many tiny errors or wording difficulties.  I often begin with a sample hour of editing so you can feel good about it my work before you commit.

Feel free to contact me if you have any questions.  I’d be happy to refer you to past clients as references.


Private Writing Tutor or English Class? Which is a better fit?

I taught college English classes for many years at several community colleges in the Seattle area.  I can tell you that a classroom teacher is responsible for leaving no student behind, which means lessons must be basic enough to make sense to the weakest writers in the class.

But what if you’re a professional with fairly strong writing skills who has weak spots in your writing knowledge?  Do you take writing lessons or classes aimed at beginners or intermediates?  For many professionals and students who need writing help, most of the writing instruction in such classes will prove a waste of time and money.  Beginning classes might cover what you know already; intermediate classes may assume knowledge of exactly what you missed in high school.  What you want is writing help that addresses your specific issues, whether you’re a non-native looking for ESL coaching or a smooth native speaker in need of grammar lessons.

I have the expertise to adjust to any writer’s needs.  With each new client, I ask for writing samples that reflect their current abilities.  Based on these, I design a specialized program that offers writing help in specific areas of deficit.  As we continue to work together, new problems may surface.  We zoom in on these immediately, on demand, rather than being tethered to a class syllabus.  You learn more quickly by focusing on those areas where you, as an individual, need clarification and practice.

English Instruction – What About Grammar?

When I was in eight grade, I had an English teacher named Mr. Beisel who had written a grammar handbook. He was actually a terrible teacher, but the handouts from his book were excellent. Day after day, while he sat dozing at his desk so inert that some of us eighth graders theorized about whether he might be dead, we plodded through a series of lessons partitioned in a large cardboard box up by his desk. Each isolated one aspect of grammar instruction, so that by the time you finished the lot of them, you could diagram any sentence in English.

Diagramming sentences is a lost art. But being able to identify various parts of a sentence is actually imperative in order to apply the rules of punctuation and syntax accurately. This is another reason to hire an English tutor with a strong background in writing. For example, if the rules state that you DO use a comma between an independent clause and a phrase, but not between an independent clause and a dependent clause, you need to be able to tell the two – the phrase and the clause – apart. A clause, whether dependent or independent, features a who doing a what. A phrase has a who or a doing, but not both.

A good writing coach can help you understand the difference, so the next time you’re wondering where to place a comma, you’ll know.

ESL Coaching at Every Level

If you’ve learned English as a second language, chances are your knowledge of English grammar is stronger than that of many native speakers. If you’re seeking further English help, you need an instructor who can explain grammar not in terms of what “sounds right,” but in specific grammatical terms you can comprehend. That way, you can incorporate the rule into your understanding for future reference.

Rather than progressing through a standard book, I pull grammar lessons from the web as needed for each individual ESL Seattle client. We work on what YOU need to learn to bring your fluency and writing to the next level. Take a look at my testimonials for recommendations directly from clients who have worked with me as a grammar tutor. You’ll see that each says the lessons are both useful and fun.

Choosing a Seattle Tutor: What to Look For

There are hundreds of writing tutors available in Seattle. How do you make a good choice for your own writing instruction?

The majority of ads that offer tutoring for students are posted by students themselves, many of whom have little idea of the actual rules of syntax and grammar. The fact that someone is an English major who gets good grades on his or her papers may mean they can write well themselves. It does NOT mean they are qualified to give grammar instruction or serve as a writing coach.

Having served as a writing teacher on the faculty of many major colleges and universities in the Seattle area, I have the in-depth knowledge of grammar and syntax that allows me to explain to a client the rules of grammar or the benefits of style, in easy-to-understand terms. If you’re going to spend money on English help, be sure you hire an expert!