What is the Appropriate Dissertation Length?Wednesday, July 28th, 2010
Find out what experts say on dissertation length
Are you concerned about starting to write your dissertation? It is normal if you feel a little pressure. After all, the dissertation is the most important academic work of a student’s career. When preparing your dissertation, there are many things to consider. One of the things that make students worried is the dissertation length. Does the idea of writing a thesis or a dissertation intimidate you because you think you can’t write thousands of words? Is the thought of needing a dissertation hundreds of pages long, keeping you from going for your Master’s degree or PhD? Don’t get intimidated. Here are some tips on how important your dissertation length should be.
A minimum acceptable length
First of all, keep in mind that there are no universal standards for the length of a dissertation, because those standards vary within each university or institution. While there are some universities which don’t even specify a required length, other institutions provide general guidelines, that may vary within different schools or even departments. Experts say that a dissertation should be as long as necessary and no longer: don’t worry so much about the amount of pages, but about covering your topic of choice in an appropriate, complete and consistent way. Typical dissertations go from 40-50 pages to 150-200, and are rarely longer.
At the same time, it is advisable to think of your dissertation as your first academic book, and a book is not a paper or an article, it’s longer.
Don’t let the length intimidate you!
Ok, so we have established that the dissertation contents are way more important than the dissertation length. You should know by now that it is false that your dissertation necessarily has to be 300 pages long. Before getting intimidated, why don’t you check your university guidelines and consult with your advisor about your dissertation length?
But what if it actually has to be that long? The important thing is not to let the dissertation intimidate you. If you write about something that you enjoy in your field, you will be engaged in your writing and, before you know it, you will have your requested number of pages.
Procrastination is your worst enemy! While you spend time worrying about not being able to write so many words, you could have already started. Besides, students write dissertations every year, they don’t die because of the length. You have studied a lot, and you shouldn’t let your fear ruin your whole career. Consider the dissertation as one last final effort. Stay focused and keep reminding yourself that whether 30 pages or 300 pages, it doesn’t matter.
Organizing your work
If you were requested to write, let’s say, 150 pages, that means that there is enough information in your field for covering that dissertation length. So it is basically a matter of organizing your work. Find out what each chapter of your dissertation requires. You should dedicate yourself to research in your area, provide plenty of examples and design the dissertation format in such a way that you eventually end up writing the required number of pages.