Hello all, following the recent thread on thesis length of social science PhDs, my curiosity about my own discipline has been piqued.
My thesis will be between 90 - 100k words long. I have experimented with shorter formats, but this seems to be the only way I can get it all in. The word count specification for my department is 80 - 100.
So, what's you number? (sorry for the cheesey pun)
Mine was 70,000 words long, though my department expected 80-100,000 words. There were various reasons why mine came in at that length, but I was assured by staff that it would be fine. Though they advised me to include the substantial databases I built as an electronic appendix, on CD. And I passed my viva in 2010. So the shorter length was fine. I was reassured that it's quality not quantity that counts. And if you do have a non-standard length it's much better for examiners to be too short than way too long.
My thesis was in Social Science and the max we are allowed to submit is 100,000 including references and appendices. The norm around here seems to be 70,000-100,000. Mine ended up at 99,372. I found it really hard to cut down to that in the end, despite my disbelief for three years that writing that much was actually going to be possible.
======= Date Modified 10 Oct 2011 14:52:15 =======
There was a humanities candidate submitting at the same time as me who had a thesis extending over three volumes and a page count of at least 900 (nine hundred) pages!!! That said, a good part of that was collated data from the conversation I had with the registrar.
It made my 368 page, 94,500 word science-based thesis seem almost inadequate. I'd also put in lots of graphs and collated data, plus an extended literature review to emphasise the originality of my work. I think there was a limit of 100,000 words, though as long as it was readable people tended not to take notice of that limit.
======= Date Modified 10 Oct 2011 15:24:18 =======
It's no good, I couldn't resist looking. The longest thesis on record is:
Bruce Williams “Archaeology And Historical Problems Of The Second Intermediate Period”, University of Chicago, December 1975
Quote: "As printed the manuscript covers xxxi + 2143 pages and includes 598 figures, 95 tables and 11 maps."
No wonder Universities started imposing limits on the lengths of theses!!! :-(
It's always interesting to hear about the length of other people's theses! At my university, the word limit for humanities theses is 80,000. When I hit it, I asked a member of department whether I should consider applying for an extension - I needed an extra 3,500 or so words. Her reply was 'lie - that's what we all did'. I have to say, no one noticed. I was a bit worried about having to submit an electronic version on that count, but our limit doesn't include citations, footnotes, bibliography or appendices - since I have a 20,000 word appendix (transcribed interview), it disguises the discrepancy a bit. I hope.
An interesting thing though is the role that font choice can play in thesis length. A friend of mine in the same department recently submitted her thesis, which came in at around 70,000 words. However, her main text came out at around the same number of pages as my 83,000-odd one; despite both using a size 12 font, she did hers in Arial, while mine was in Times New Roman.
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