5 Ways to Find Funds for Academic Editing

Rose Ernst
May 22 · 3 min read
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Here are some tried and true strategies for graduate students and faculty.

Higher education is under attack and budgets are shrinking.

Let’s be real, though. We’re told the sky is falling, but there’s money for all kinds of extravagances. And how about when we’re told budget cuts are coming but nothing happens (this has now happened to my department more years than I can count)? Sorry! False alarm!

Just because the university operates through constant scarcity doesn’t mean you must as well. No, money won’t float down from the sky, but it is important to not let scarcity stop you from asking for support to complete your scholarly work.

Remember, it’s your job to publish (even at teaching institutions). Can you imagine a middle manager saying to their boss, “Hey, can you possibly find funds for my work trip to pitch one of our clients? I’ll supplement it with my own money.”

Here are five ways around the funding conundrum:

1. Negotiate conference funds

Depending on the university and job title, you may have access to general faculty development funds or conference funds. In the first case, you should be reimbursed for editing costs. In the second case, negotiate to trade a conference trip for an editing fund. Sometimes conference money is better spent on actually moving your project forward. Besides, you can always go to a conference next year.

2. Leverage

Are you about to agree to take on a committee role that entails a great deal of responsibility? Are you about to become a department chair?

Instead of a stipend or course release (if those are even options), ask your dean for support in reaching the goal of tenure or becoming full professor by helping you produce your scholarship. If you frame it as, “I want to become full professor in X years, but I’m concerned that this service responsibility to impede my progress toward that goal. If I am to take on this role, I need support in finishing my book. A developmental editor will help me make progress toward that goal.”

This angle can work if you are in a tenure-track position, though there may be some creative ways contingent faculty could use leverage to hire an editor if your project is connected to teaching. Here are some negotiation tips from Tara Mohr and Carrie Galant.

3. Grants and fellowships

If you’ve been lucky enough to secure one of these, look into whether editing is an expense that can be reimbursed.

4. Pool funds with a collaborator

If two of you are working on a project, consider figuring out a way to dip into your collective faculty funds in such a way (perhaps alternating years in hiring someone) that you have enough to hire someone.

5. Make a pitch

If all else fails, just ask. Ask an administrator. Then ask a different administrator. Keep going until you run out of possibilities.

Administrators are human — they often come up with creative ways to support faculty. Make sure your pitch demonstrates a clear benefit for you and the institution. I cannot tell you how many clients of mine are hesitant, shy, modest, or just uncomfortable asking. But please ask. You owe it to yourself, the university, and those who will benefit from your knowledge to publish your work. Do it in service for others if that makes you feel better. Even if the administrator says no, they might be impressed that you asked and that you’re so focused on your scholarship.

Bottom line: advocate for yourself and your scholarship. We want to read it!

Dr. Rose Ernst is an academic editor and consultant who loves to support scholars in sharing their brilliance with the world. Find her at roseernst.net.

Rose Ernst

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Academic editor and writing consultant. Former tenured professor and chair of political science. Happy fiction author. Find her at roseernst.net.