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I stumbled across this post:

Is it ethical/legal to publish Master thesis manuscript as a journal paper?

Let me quote the top poster.

However, an MSc thesis is typically 50-100 pages long. A paper is (in a dense journal format) typically 8-12 pages long. Let's make a generous estimate for 20 pages in the thesis layout. So either your thesis is very thin, or the journal is very generous, both of which seems unlikely.

I'm currently finishing my master thesis. My professor likes the empirical results and told me I should orient myself to some journal articles in the respective journal he wants me to publish.

Why does a master thesis have to be 50-100 pages long?

I have written some parts of the thesis before and now that I am writing with the publication in mind I cut out >50%. I've realized that almost all of it was unecessary, boring "fluff" about definitions that every informed reader already knows or if not could find out much more easily online than reading my thesis.

Henceforth, the quote above concerned me.

I thought there is no problem in writing for a journal at the same time while writing the thesis. I plan to hand in my master thesis with approx. 30 pages. Everything is concisely explained. All other supplementary stuff will be pushed to the appendix.

I always found it particularly upsetting to have a minimum page number requirement. If its good, its good, or am I wrong?

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    Does your institution have a 50 page minimum, or are you just taking that from this SE post mentioning what is "typical"?
    – Bryan Krause
    Mar 29, 2023 at 14:13
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    My university also has guidelines that master-thesis "should" be around 60 p. (+/- 10%). Of course I need to reconcile that with my own University. Yet still, this seems to be a wider trend in academia? I've seen thesis in our library database that write up to 80-100 p. even though the essential point could be made in under 40. Mar 29, 2023 at 14:22
  • Many schools still apply formatting such as double spacing, 12 point font, large margins, etc. to theses as a carryover from the days where they were microfilmed. This can easily double to quadruple the page count from a dense journal format. Page count is thus impossible to compare. Word count would be a more accurate comparison.
    – user71659
    Mar 29, 2023 at 23:30

1 Answer 1

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Actually, a masters thesis only needs to be as long as it needs to be. There may be some expectations by individual university departments or advisors on some minimum length, but not universally true.

In some fields theses might naturally be longer. My daughter's philosophy doctoral thesis was longer than my (quite long) math doctoral thesis as she needed a lot of supporting material and I only needed proofs.

If 30 pages is fine with your institution, then it is fine for all.

But note that a thesis of any kind normally needs more background material since, among other things, you are trying to convince professionals that you know what you are talking about. A paper, on the other hand, can dispense with saying a lot of what professionals can already be expected to know. So, a paper derived from a thesis is likely to be shorter; naturally so. Not universally so, of course.

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  • That is interesting. I am writing in economics. Ultimately I would say the empirical results speak for themselve. If I would stretch the thesis this would mean explaining the methodology with 6-7 pages more instead of referencing to a book where it is explained ... writing 3-4 pages on a definition of a phenomena that has already been defined numerous times. I need to check back with my professor what he prefers. Mar 29, 2023 at 14:24
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    Make your prof happy for the thesis. Make your editor happy for a paper. Copacetic.
    – Buffy
    Mar 29, 2023 at 14:27
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    @HansD. I'd think of a thesis more like a merger between a publishable paper and a term paper you would write for a course. You're applying guidelines that you should apply to a paper to a thing that isn't that.
    – Bryan Krause
    Mar 29, 2023 at 14:28
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    @HansD. the most important point (in my opinion at least) in Buffy's answer is that a master thesis and an article have different goals. For a master thesis you try to convince your instructor that you are good enough. In an article whether you are good or bad is irrelevant. It is all about the content: you have a possible answer to a question and you present your arguments. Different goals lead to different texts and text lengths. Mar 29, 2023 at 14:58

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