This chart initiated a round of chest thumping by academic historians. Apparently we historians write the longest dissertations. Now, according to this chart, philosophers and classicists do not write dissertations,
when in fact they do.
However, for the sake of argument, let’s assume the chart is correct. What does
it tell us about historians? Either we do more research than scholars in any
other field (unlikely from my interdisciplinary vantage point), or we are less
able to articulate our findings in a pithy manner than our colleagues in other
departments on campus.
|"Length of the average dissertation," from FlowData.|
When I made a snide remark about length on Facebook, my historian friends jumped to the defense of 325 page dissertations as the necessary length for a monograph. Other fields publish articles rather than books. Thus, the argument went, they can get away with less. This perplexed me. A doctoral dissertation no matter the field should demonstrate an original contribution to knowledge, right?