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Meet Dr. Allen Roda of Dissertation Editor

Today we’d like to introduce you to Dr. Allen Roda.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
An early iteration of Dissertation Editor was founded at Harvard in 2005 as a tutoring service for undergraduates though it quickly expanded to focus on editing as well. It was originally comprised entirely of Harvard graduate students, which was a great way for graduate students in the humanities and social sciences to earn money and capitalize on their skills and knowledge. Graduate students and recent graduates (yes, even those from Harvard and other top schools!) have a lot on their plate financially, with student loans, living expenses, and so forth. Tutoring, editing, and formatting were great ways to earn money and put their strengths to good use.

When I joined the team in 2014 after completing my PhD in Ethnomusicology, we re-branded as Dissertation Editor and began to focus exclusively on PhD level editing services. As the COO and only full-time employee, I brought my experience with my own PhD completion, award-winning journal articles (on Indian music), and passion for high-quality academic writing to the forefront of our editing platform and our customer service. From that point on, we only hired PhD editors and have really cultivated our brand of PhDs working on PhD-level writing. Our experience and expertise set us apart when it comes to academic writing. The result has been a dramatic transformation from a small local tutoring service into a thriving business with national and international clients.

In the years since I took over, we expanded quickly and began to receive considerable interest from both local and nonlocal clients who were more interested in receiving editing, formatting, and feedback on their academic work, rather than in-person tutoring—especially at the doctoral level. As doctoral programs have become increasingly stringent on style guide implementation (such as APA and Chicago), more and more doctoral students are struggling to finish their dissertations—the final step of most graduate students’ doctoral process. While we don’t write anything for the student, we help them take it to the next level with careful editing and formatting.

Another trend that began to affect our business was the increase in popularity of online, distance learning. Many of these graduate students receive minimal help from their advisors and can become overwhelmed with, again, the formatting requirements and the mechanics of academic writing, especially that of a dissertation. Our consultation services help them talk through their approaches, their research, and help them plan their course of action for their projects. Although doctoral-level work is our primary focus, we often get inquiries from clients working on Master’s theses or Capstone projects, and are happy to offer our PhD-level editing services to assist others as well.

Has it been a smooth road?
We’ve had to adjust to serious growing pains. At first, I was the only full-time employee, and for a year or so there were only two of us on the admin team. Now we have a team of 5 full-time employees, over 50 editors and statisticians, and are still growing. We’ve faced a lot of challenges in delegating responsibilities and making sure nothing falls through the cracks. I personally faced a tremendous challenge of returning to work after my son was born. I learned to be alert and effective on only a few hours of sleep! Several of us on the admin team have become parents recently, and so it’s been a learning experience in scheduling, trying to find a balance of work and family, and working full-time on very little sleep and a lot of caffeine. We are so heavily staffed by extremely well-educated parents that at one point, one my assistants and I joked about renaming our business “Baby Brain.” Negotiating the responsibilities of parenthood and professional ambition have been among our biggest challenges. I think it’s also enabled us to really empathize with our clients and we found a whole new level of respect for those who go back to school while working full-time, as well as have a family.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with Dissertation Editor – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
With the increasing popularity and convenience of distance learning, we see many students who are juggling full-time work, full-time school, and families. Without the in-class support of professors and the kind of advising or mentoring relationship that students typically have in traditional programs, we’ve found that we fill a need – the need for extra support. This can mean consistent check-ins with a student, encouragement along the way, phone consultations to help them talk through a road block in their research or writing, and so forth. We’ve really evolved from merely editing to offering a variety of services.

We have a large team of highly educated, experienced PhD editors and statisticians who come from a variety of backgrounds. Our editors vary in their expertise, and we have team members who focus on APA formatting, Chicago Manual of Style formatting, MLA, and Bluebook. There are some editors who really excel at guiding and supporting clients with phone consultations, while other editors have a knack for fixing any formatting or template issue that might arise. We pride ourselves on matching the best editor to each individual order; we really take into consideration the requests of the client, and then carefully choose the editor that would be the best fit for the job. That being said, our hiring process has really allowed us to hire a stellar team, and we often have clients ask us for someone in their field to edit their work. While we do try and match someone with experience in their academic field, we’ve found that with a good editor, this isn’t always necessary – especially since we are not writing any new content for clients.

Having such a large and diverse team of PhDs who work for us part-time, while also teaching at various universities around the United States really sets us apart from any other editing service out there. At the end of the day, I think we’re most proud of our editors, since they really are the key to our success. Many of them have been with us as we’ve grown, which has really allowed us to get to know them and showcase their strengths. The relationships they build with clients are the backbone of our work. In the age of internet scams, it’s difficult to know who is genuine and who is not. Our clients come to us, see the kind of work we do and the service we provide, and subsequently refer their friends and colleagues to us because of the consistent quality we provide. We’re not faceless entities behind a screen: our clients know they can share their struggles and joys with us, and we often get emails or texts from clients updating us on their life events or accomplishments. It’s the personal aspect that really sets us apart from other companies that might be editing mills, and something we’ve really worked hard to cultivate.

Contact Info:

  • Address: 485 Massachusetts Ave. STE 300
    Cambridge, MA 02139
  • Website: www.dissertation-editor.com
  • Phone: 857-600-2241
  • Email: info@dissertation-editor.com

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