Friday, November 8, 2013

The Long and the Short of It Redux

November 8, 2013

Last week I wrote about the long and the short of it.  And didn't think I would ever return to the topic again.  Until I saw this:

This is a chart of plot boxes built by MWBeck on the average dissertation length by number of pages by field.  I don't know Mr. (Ms.?) Beck, but I do understand how grad students find every which way to procrastinate instead of working on their dissertations.  

In this case, we can enjoy the fruit of the delay in so many ways that we couldn't have if Beck had cleaned the bathroom or gone on a long bike ride or decided to do yet another literature review in some tangential field before getting back to the serious, yet postponable task of actually writing on the dissertation.

So now we know how dissertations stack up, literally.

The top line?  

History--on average the longest dissertations completed for all of these various fields.

The second line from the bottom?

Mathematics--on average the second shortest dissertations completed for all of these various fields (after biostatistics).

Happily in the green box somewhere close to the middle?

Business Administration --which is as close as I can find to my field (management)

[My dissertation work, by the way, was an outlier on this scale--maybe only fitting in two-volumes when it was bound by the thesis office.]

Can you see the disconnect we have when discussing Davis's dissertation research with him?  As I find myself steering the conversation between Walter who finished his dis 34 years ago and like clock work, turned it into a book

And Davis who spends his time thinking rather than staring at a computer screen waiting for the words to come.  John Nash (A Brilliant Mind) earned a doctorate in mathematics in 1950 with a 28 page paper that had two footnotes.  I guess Davis's will be longer, but there's really no way to actually tell at this point.

I guess I am once again happy that there is room for the long and the short of it.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. I think breaking it down by subject without looking at the methodologies used in those subjects is doing it a disservice. Having written a mixed methods dissertation I know that the quantitative side of things is a lot easier and quicker to write up than that qualitative stuff. So, if Davis's dissertation is longer than 100 pages, I'm gonna ask where the qual research is :).

  3. You are right of course. I just think it is funny that someone took time from their dissertation writing to compile the data.

  4. Oh, I didn't realize that they took time from their dissertation. Fascinating! Hahahahahaaha! A much better use of procrastination time than playing video games :) I gotta admire that!!!