Dissertation lengths compared

Does size matter?

University of Minnesota dissertation lengths by discipline, 2007-2012

University of Minnesota dissertation lengths by discipline, 2007-2012. From R is my Friend blog

No surprise history’s at the top. And who got away with writing a 175-page history dissertation anyway??

All sorts of ways you could analyze this. One that immediately jumps out is the variation by discipline (duh). History seems to have a pretty clear sense of dissertation length and a normal distribution, whereas fields like anthro and soc have a much wider spread. And one diss advisor clearly failed to ride herd on his/her advisee in Natural Resources Science and Management.

[For those unfamiliar with boxplots (or whisker plots), the colored boxes are the middle 50% of the distribution; the vertical line within the colored box is the median page length. The horizontal lines are the outer 25% of the distribution on either side, with dots as extreme outliers. I tweaked boxplots for my old siege length graphic. You can also make them in Excel – high-low-close graph (stock prices) I believe they’re called.]

Details at “R is my friend” blog (R is a stats program that can do all sorts of graphics – I believe Wienand used it for that map of Germany awhile back). See the blog post with further discussion here.

2 responses to “Dissertation lengths compared”

  1. Erik Lund says :

    Dissertations are supposed to be short. And finished in five years, so that you can move on to your postdoc, followed by your TT job.

    Now, excuse me, but I’ve got to go feed my unicorn.

  2. jegrenier says :

    Makes me feel like little more than a cog on the machine … 288 pages.

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