Edit my essay free, edit my essay for free online, edit my paper free… No, this is not a mantra some students would repeat for heaven to give them what they need. These are actual search terms students type in about 1k times each month.
Of course, I am fully aware of the modest student budget, but knowing how much time, knowledge and effort it takes to edit an academic paper, I could only view free essay editing as a creative way to introduce students to the paid services.
Still, as a person fascinated with technology and technology essay topics, I truly wanted to believe there is a clever new bot competing with me in my trade. And yes, I would love one, for we could effectively cooperate to speed up my work.
Thus, I’ve decided to run my own research and answer this popular question I’ve been asked several times on Quora, “Is there a website where I get my essay edited for free?”
Free Paper Editor: Fact or Fiction?
To understand whether a free paper editor can exist, it is important to know what it actually takes to edit an essay or a manuscript. Normally, editing includes:
- assessment of how the paper meets the assignment requirements,
- correction of grammar mistakes and typos,
- enhancement of style,
- improvement of the structure of the paper,
- notices on any flawed assumptions or weak statements that should be revised,
- correction of referencing mistakes and dealing with plagiarism issues.
While software can cope with improving grammar and style (possibly pointing to some contractions and slang words), it is unlikely that it will analyze the meaningful content of an essay, the logical connection between the statement and the supporting points, the strength of a thesis statement, etc.
Once quality editing can be performed only by a human, is it possible to get your paper edited by a trained professional for free? In fact, there are some cases when it’s possible. You can get free editing:
- Getting a free sample: Many editors and editing companies provide a free sample that allows you to see the quality of the service (I do recommend requesting one if you order editing/proofreading of a longer paper like a thesis);
- Using a special marketing offer: Free paper editing may be offered as part of a marketing campaign. This is especially peculiar of start-up companies who are ready to give away suspiciously good offers and discounts to land new clients and get real feedback on their service.
- Using the earned bonuses to pay: The third variant to get essay editing for free is to take part in a dedicated referral program. For example, if others use the editing services of a particular freelancer or company following your recommendation, you earn the bonuses to use for the editing of your own papers.
In other cases… no, you can’t. Time is a precious resource and there are many volunteering opportunities that are more rewarding than editing students’ papers for free.
Still, let us find out more about what can be expected from the automatic writing checkers that, unlike professional editors, can actually afford to provide services for free.
A Word of Notice About Paper Graders
One of the websites providing a free paper grader just for the sake of warning against them (and offering affiliate links for professional editing services instead) makes a scary assumption that the papers submitted for grading are saved to the database and then sold to students. This way, instead of getting the promised help, you become a victim, as if the student who has bought your paper submits it before you do, you will be accused of plagiarism.
Well, I think everything is not so dramatic.
Otherwise, the Internet would have been flooded by messages of desperate students who found themselves in such a situation.
But it isn’t.
In fact, I have found just one piece of news telling that a group of students accidentally found their essay being sold online. Being knowledgeable in internet marketing, I think that free online writing checking tools have a different mission to accomplish and do not actually steal your papers even if they fail to provide any editing help.
A Review of Free Online Paper Editors
To assess the value of free writing checkers, I have run a little experiment.
Instead of copy-pasting my own essay into the available tools, I pasted an article by Radley Balko “What You Eat is Your Business” (the one I have cited in the post teaching students to paraphrase, summarize and quote quality sources). This is one of the model essays presented in an excellent book teaching academic writing skills – “They say / I say”: The Moves that Matter in Academic Writing (edition of 2015).
Will the free writing graders recognize such bold plagiarism? Will they have many improvements to recommend? Will they try to sell any services?
I already have the answer to these questions. Keep reading and you will have them too 😉
Disclaimer: I have not partnered with any of the tools and remain fully unbiased in my review. Actually, you can easily copy-paste the same article to get the same results.
PaperRater showed the analyzed paper is plagiarized and gave it a B grade. Unlike other free online editors, Paper Rater asks you to indicate your educational level and the type of the paper, which is a good sign.
The tool suggests there are no grammar mistakes. However, it turns out that 66% of graduate students have a better style than Radly Balko and he has to do a better job with transitional phrases.