Words Count

What’s the upper or lower word count for my thesis?

This is an interesting question. Sometimes it’s asked in a purely practical way: someone wants to know what the regulations say. The best response I can give is suggest they read the regulations for their university and check with their supervisors for any department-specific advice.

Sometimes it’s asked because there is a deeper question waiting to be asked. Perhaps how short can my thesis be? Or maybe will my examiners prefer a long or short thesis?

These are also interesting questions, but I’d follow up with questions of my own: why do you want your thesis to be short? and why are you writing your thesis for your examiners?

Here are some better questions about words to consider as you finish writing and start preparing for the viva:

  • What terminology do you need to refresh yourself on before the viva?
  • What can you do to practise sharing your work with your examiners?
  • What words matter in your work?
  • What words or sections do you need to highlight in your thesis?
  • What words would you use in a good summary of your thesis contribution?

What words could you use to describe what you do well as a researcher? What words stand out when you think about what you’ve accomplished over the years of your research?