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I've read a blog post written by Robert Wolff saying that for a philosophy dissertation to be considered good, at least in American universities, it should be between 200 to 250 pages long.

We could respond, of course, that it is not necessarily the number of pages or word count that makes a thesis up to par. If this is so, can you please cite a dissertation wherein a student was able to defend his central claim in less than a hundred pages?

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    (1) Can you cite the blog post? (2) Is this individual's blog post actually going to impact what universities accept? In other words, why is this worth researching and discussing? (3) Why <100 when the post talks about 200-250? (4) Comment: the fact that someone was able to successfully defend a thesis in <100 pages doesn't mean it would meet some arbitrary criteria for being "good" according to Dr. Wolff (see "no true scotsman" fallacy). – eykanal Mar 13 '17 at 14:34
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    I think that this quote applies s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/05/ce/44/… – Matt Mar 13 '17 at 17:06
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    The statement comes from a 2010 blog post named "How to write a doctoral dissertation in philosophy": "An American dissertation in Philosophy should be about 200 to 250 pages long, and have five or six chapters." Note that Wolff is talking about Philosophy specifically, not about other humanities as it is indicated in the question title. In fact, he explicitly contrasts a Philosophy dissertation with those from Anthropology or History. – Schmuddi Mar 13 '17 at 22:03
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    "If this is so, can you please site a dissertation wherein a student was able to defend his central claim in less than a hundred pages." Some purely technical ways to get there would be using smaller font sizes, smaller page margins, preferencing shorter synonymous words, getting rid of unnecessary particles, really small footnotes. More content oriented approaches could include not repeating yourself or scrutinizing content for if it is really necessary for the central claim. – Trilarion Mar 14 '17 at 8:44
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    "A dissertation is either good or long." (German saying.) – Daniel Mar 14 '17 at 11:01
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The University of Minnesota library system maintaining electronic dissertations library contained 2,536 records for Phd students.

The range was incredibly variable (minimum of 21 pages, maximum of 2002), but most dissertations were around 100 to 200 pages.

The average number of pages per topic is : enter image description here

Source: https://beckmw.wordpress.com/2013/04/15/how-long-is-the-average-dissertation/

In fact, it mostly depends on the research area, the university regulation and supervisor research 'style'.

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    Some areas have more or less entropy in the way that information is transmitted. For example, law tend to be more verbose than maths... – woliveirajr Mar 13 '17 at 20:07
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    Unfortunately, the graph doesn't list Philosophy, which is what Wolff is talking about exclusively in his post. So, strictly speaking, the observation that the average page numbers vary substantially between disciplines doesn't really answer the question (unless we concede that the OP has misread the blog post by Wolff). – Schmuddi Mar 13 '17 at 22:13
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    2002 pages sure puts things into perspective – mbrig Mar 13 '17 at 23:18
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    It's not only the number of pages. Some faculties require a certain font size, other not. Changing the page margin or the space between lines can severely affect the number of pages. – Trilarion Mar 14 '17 at 8:37
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    @woliveirajr For maths it has been claimed that one sentence is enough! – Ben C Mar 14 '17 at 9:36
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The answer is no, there is no such consensus.

Page number is a very poor indicator of a document's quality unlike what some people seem to believe.

Don't worry about what a blogger says, talk to your adviser about her or his expectations in terms of the depth and length of your thesis, and how your current version stands with them.

Your adviser should know the standards for your institution and has a shared interest in your thesis meeting them.

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    -1 While your response seems like it ought to be true, I think it avoids answering the question. The asker is looking for proof of the existence of a high-quality short PhD thesis. Actually, they ask for a citation to one, which is a little more than just proof that it exists. – Clumsy cat Mar 14 '17 at 12:19
  • @TheoreticalPerson this answer addresses the question in the title. There is no universal standard as to what constitute an acceptable thesis, let alone a good one. So asking for an example is pointless. – Cape Code Mar 14 '17 at 13:23
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    Some people just deal better with a concrete example of X, than an assertion that there are overwhelming reasons why X surely must exist. Where in this case X is, "a short thesis that defends its main claim". – Steve Jessop Mar 14 '17 at 13:27
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    @CapeCode I'm not sure your second point really follows from your first. There may be no standard for a thesis, but there are many interesting observations that might be made from a short thesis that some professor considered "good enough". – Clumsy cat Mar 14 '17 at 13:42

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