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Grads develop system to edit, check papers

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The Digital Commons located on the first floor of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library houses more than 70 computers on March 6 2014 in Washington D.C. Credit: Courtesy of MCT

The Digital Commons, located on the first floor of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library, houses more than 70 computers in Washington D.C.
Credit: Courtesy of MCT

While many students were enjoying their reprieve from papers and deadlines over the summer, some Ohio State alumni were developing a new service to help the writing needs of students in the upcoming school year.

Cheddit is a new online editing service that seeks to provide professional edits that go beyond what OSU’s Writing Center offers.

Michael Glynn, CEO and co-founder, used to edit papers for friends and international students before he graduated in May. Glynn, who studied electrical engineering, took his interest in entrepreneurship and approached his then-roommate about starting a business that would assist students with their writing.

“We want to be the cheapest legitimate editing service available,” he said. “We’re trying to price our service at a point where the value we can give them is greater than what they would get from a professor or the Writing Center.”

Vivek Mandan, Glynn’s former roommate and Cheddit co-founder, said the editing service’s prices used to match those of other online editing services, such as Kibin, EssayEdge and Harvard Sq. Essays, but Cheddit is cutting expenses on its end so the company can provide the most affordable rates.

“We considered the average student’s budget and what they would be able to afford,” said Mandan, an OSU alumnus who studied computer science and engineering.

After the decision was made to create an online editing service, Glynn and Manden decided to cater it specifically for OSU because they are aware of and understand the students’ needs.

“We’re focusing on Ohio State because that’s where we feel the most demand is,” Glynn said. “We’re still flexible in what we’re offering and are actually seeking feedback through students. From there, we hope to branch out to different schools.”

Every editing service needs a good team of editors, so Glynn and his fellow three co-founders, which also include Eric Amador and chief technology officer Alex Barbur, began the search for theirs. Glynn said the editors chosen had to complete sample edits, have at least a bachelor’s degree in an English or writing-related field and have five or more years of editing experience.

“We actually hired less than 1 percent of the applicants, so it’s really tough to get in,” Mandan said.

They selected about 10 editors and are hoping more experienced editors apply.

As students, the founders were able to recognize some of the needs that other students would expect in an editing service. Alex Barbur, Cheddit’s chief technology officerstudying computer science, said he believes  understand students better than other online editing services.

“We want what’s best for the students,” he said. “I know what it’s like to have limited funds.”

Cheddit offers two tiers of editing services. The standard edit includes help with mechanical issues, such as spelling, grammar and punctuation. The extended edit includes everything in the standard edit as well as improvements to the document’s style, cohesion and flow.

For the extended edit option, students can choose for the editors to either make the edits to the document or just send it back with suggestions on how to improve their submission.

Students are able to get an estimate for the cost of Cheddit’s services before signing up on the website. For standard edits, students can expect to pay about $10-$15 for 1,000-word documents and about $20 for extended edits. The estimate increases with the word count.

Prices are also determined on the time of day the deadline is set by the student. Students can expect to pay a little more if they want their edits returned in the morning as opposed to evening deadlines.

Cheddit accepts documents between 100 and 5,000 words in length, as well as different types of documents, including resumes and cover letters. Glynn said specific services could change depending on feedback from students.

“The whole goal of all that we offer is to take what a student has already written, the ideas they have expressed and then enhance those ideas through the way they are presented,” he said. “By next semester, we hope to have an official launch and use the feedback we get to improve what we offer to students.”

Students can submit papers at any time and can expect to have their edits back within 24 hours, Glynn said. Although they don’t have a concrete policy concerning dissatisfied customers, Glynn said they do offer re-edits.

“If there was a case where someone was dissatisfied with the suggestions that they got, then if they contact us, we’ll be happy to make it right to them somehow,” he said.

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Along with other online editing services, Glynn said he believes their service is also competing with the OSU Writing Center. But availability and depth of editing are two ways Cheddit and the Writing Center differ, Glynn said.

“They can access us 24/7, whereas with the writing center, they typically have drop-in appointments at a certain time, and students have to make an appointment. If that doesn’t work with your schedule, then you don’t get to use the writing center,” he said. “They won’t do a line edit. They won’t go through your paper line by line and point out things that need to be fixed. That’s something that we will do for you.”

Dickie Selfe, director of the OSU Writing Center, said the center doesn’t provide this intensive editing system because it doesn’t cultivate a learning experience.

“Our goal is to bring them in, find out what they’re looking for, look at their work, identify the main issues to talk about and leave them with something to work on,” Selfe said. “What we don’t do is take their work and proofread it for them. We give it back to them and let them make corrections.”

At the OSU Writing Center’s three locations, students schedule appointments or visit during drop-in hours and speak with a consultant who will read over their papers and suggest changes that can increase the flow and clarity of their paper. Consultants will either be undergraduate or graduate students who have gone through workshops and taken courses to help students improve their writing prowess, Selfe said.

Selfe and Glynn both expressed an interest in developing a relationship between the two entities.

“I would definitely still encourage students to use the writing center because I think the concept of having someone else try to improve your writing for you is something that we would definitely encourage,” Glynn said.

At the end of sessions at the Writing Center, consultants usually have a list of resources that they will give to students seeking additional help. Selfe said that Cheddit could potentially be added to that list once the writing center researches the editing service and learns how beneficial it could be for students.

“We could develop a relationship, but we’d have to know a little more about the end results with their professional consulting,” he said. “Most students cannot afford to pay for that service, so we’ll be glad to provide a free service for those people who can’t afford to do it online.”

Sarah Perry, a third-year in public affairs, said Cheddit is like a peer-editing review system and she would be interested in using it if it was affordable.

“It sounds like it would be good for midterm and final papers, you know, for assignments that carry a lot of weight,” she said. “It wouldn’t be something I would use for smaller assignments.”

Victor Teixeira, a first-year in industrial design, said he could also see the benefits of using an online editing service.

“I definitely do think it’s something that is going to be interesting to use, especially later on in my collegiate career as a design student,” he said.

​Teixeira, who is still learning about resources at OSU such as the OSU Writing Center, said Cheddit would be a service that he would recommend to anyone, including students still in high school.

“I would even recommend it to students at my past high school,” he said. “Since in English you have an English paper due every week — multiple papers — (Cheddit) is definitely not something to overlook.”

Barbur said he believes the system at Cheddit will provide an opportunity for students looking to improve their writing and give them an advantage over students who are not seeking professional edits.

“The question shouldn’t be ‘Do I need to have this edit?’ The question is ‘Why are you not having it edited?’” Barbur said. “There really isn’t a reason why you shouldn’t have every paper edited. It’s a learning opportunity.”

2 comments

  1. Enjoyed the article, Desiaire!

    I want to emphasize that one of our main objectives when editing a student’s writing is to help the student learn from the improvements or suggestions our editors make. Our editors leave meaningful comments to help students apply what they’ve learned to future essays, term papers, cover letters, etc.

    Students can find us at http://www.cheddit.com

  2. For a second there I thought the Lantern was reporting on graduate students on campus.
    But, no, that would be crazy.
    What was I thinking?

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