While writing a dissertation, both of these questions will sit in your head. They are “How much longer do I have to suffer?” and “How long is a dissertation anyway?” The issue of the appropriate amount of pages one has to submit is a popular one. No one wants to seem a lazy bone and end up with fewer pages than the rest of the students. Being a crazy person who turns in a dissertation of more than 1, 000 pages is also a strange road to take. So, what is the appropriate and widely acceptable dissertation length?
Before we can answer that question, there is yet another one that needs our input. What does the length of a dissertation indicate? Some students think that it says something about how hard they’ve been working and how much information they’ve managed to find. There is this strange stereotype in our heads that the longer the paper the better. In reality, it indicates nothing. It doesn’t matter how many pages your dissertation has as long as you’ve managed to explore the topic in depth and contribute to the available knowledge in this subject area. You may need 20 or 200 pages to do that.
However, humans are the creatures of herding mentality. We feel safer when our behavior doesn’t deviate from the one accepted by the great number of people. If you’d rather be a rule that an exception to it, you need some numbers to rely on. Luckily, every educational institution has specific guidelines as to the number of pages a degree committee expects to receive from a student. For example, the University of Cambridge offers a list of subject areas with a specific number of words a dissertation should have. They recommend not to exceed this number making it clear that 80, 000 or 60, 000 words should be more than enough to write a Ph.D. or Master’s dissertation correspondingly. These numbers do not differ that much throughout the university around the globe.
The Average Length
But this information still does not answer the question. You should also know the statistical data in terms of the number of pages students write. Do they use all 80, 000 words they are recommended to or limit themselves with, say, 50, 000? Thanks to this blog, we can find all about it. The University of Minnesota has been collecting electronic dissertations since 2007 which gives a great opportunity to analyze them. After the author of the blog developed and applied a specific algorithm, the average length of the papers become obvious. Most of the students managed to write from 100 to 200 pages on the topics of their choice. The dissertation with the minimum number of pages contained 21 pages and the one with the maximum number – 2002 pages.
Whether to go for an extreme number of pages or not is your choice. Just don’t focus on this number too much as it is one of the least important things you should worry about while writing. Write with pleasure and make a considerable contribution to the world of science with your dissertation. Good luck!