On R is My Friend, as a way to average dissertation length on his own dissertation, beckmw took a look at dissertation length via the digital archives at the University of Minnesota. I’ve selected the top fifty majors with the highest number of dissertations and created boxplots to show relative distributions. Not many differences are observed among the majors, although some exceptions are apparent. Economics, mathematics, and biostatistics had the lowest median page lengths, whereas anthropology, history, and political science had the highest median page lengths.
This distinction makes sense given the nature of the disciplines. I was on the long end of the statistics distribution, around 180 pages. Probably because I had a lot of pictures. As I was working on my dissertation, people often asked me how many pages I had written and how many pages I had left to write. I never had a good answer, because there’s no page limit or required page count. So for those who get that dreaded page-count question, you can wave your finger at this chart and tell people you’re somewhere in the distribution. Other than that, this is neat!
The colors look like they are reverse alphabetical. So the colors are meaningless then? They convey no information that is not already transparently conveyed. For that matter, the box plot itself is thoroughly obsolete. As for the topic of the post, my math dissertation was 88 pages.
23 pages, double-spaced, including front matter and references. And Presburger’s was 19 pages or so. But his supervisor, Tarski, would not give him his PhD. He thought the thesis was too short.
So there is a lower bound. The chart would be more useful if the majors were ordered by median or average dissertatin length. But it is interesting to note that the more mathematical and objective the mayor, the less pages needed. Out of curiosity, Nathan, what was your dissertation on?
Not that I’d understand it anyway! Then, there are the departments’ or universities’ format standards. That, of course doubles the plage length. Better, what was the word count in the dissertations? Mine started out much longer, but as I started conforming to target journal format standards, I would say the overall length was reduced by a third or so. Is this true outside of ecology as well? Oh, dear, my dissertation wouldn’t even appear on this chart, but would be off the right edge.
Then again, my opus would count as short for, say, a German Habilitation or a French These d’Etat in my field, so it all depends! A more helpful plot would count theses by words, instead of pages, as a measure of content. Jump to navigation Jump to search The word count is the number of words in a document or passage of text. Word counting may be needed when a text is required to stay within certain numbers of words. This section does not cite any sources. However, during the era when school assignments were done in handwriting or with typewriters, the rules for these definitions often differed from today’s consensus.