Dissertation by Numbers

After weeks and months of reading, research and writing, I finally got my dissertation on blogging and reflective practice finalised yesterday. In the end, it was not so much a labour of love as, well, just a labour that at times I thought would never end. Even so, I had it easier than most thanks to my generous summer holiday - with no work to do since July 1st, I was able to take my time and (for the only time during this three year course) actually do most of the work by day rather than hammering away at the keyboard until the sun came up.

Anyway, I have some reflections on the whole experience to share but I think you’ll forgive me if I give my fingers a rest and limit my time typing today… Instead, I’ll share a few numbers with you.


Numbers…. Anonymous image courtesy of eltpics

16,433 - words in the main body of the text.*

24,440 - words in the entire document including contents sheet, tables, appendices and all that.*

5 - chapters written.

95 - pages in the final version.

26 - tables and figures of research data.

70 - sets of survey responses analysed.

3 - interview and blog analysis participants.

66 - blog posts read, reviewed and analysed.

375 - comments read, reviewed and analysed.

48 - hours spent at the keyboard drafting, redrafting and proof-reading the final text.**

46 - hours spent browsing the web, watching videos and playing games when I should have been doing the above.**

4 - hours spent at one point on getting one table formatted exactly right!

8 - separate number of back-up files I kept (better safe than sorry!)

37 - publications referenced in the text.

31 - publications, articles and book chapters read but not used in the final write-up.

0 - sheets of paper and pens/pencils used.

10 - pints of sweat shed while hunched over my laptop in the middle of a Turkish summer.**

6 - pints of beer drunk in celebration at having finally finished.*

*This total is true at the time of writing but may be subject to revision.
**This total is a wild guess that may be greatly exaggerated or woefully underestimated.

Now, it’s fingers crossed as I face the long agonising wait for results….

Not my fingers… - Image by Terriko


  1. Congratulations on the completion of your dissertation. It would be wonderful to read an adapted version on your research findings in the future.

    1. Thanks Martin. That's something I will look into once I've got feedback, either in e-book format as you did or here on the blog.

      Until then, I will happily take a break from all the academic stuff!

    2. I don't blame you Dave. Have an extra beer and take a break from all that reading. It is an incredible feeling knowing that you finally finished the largest amount of reading and writing so far in your life.

  2. Oh, I'll never forget the feeling when I handed in my MA thesis! I had two small children by then. What a relief it was!
    Good for you!
    Looking forward to reading the results.
    Naomi (@naomishema)

    1. Definitely a relief! I was also helped by my in-laws who took my son to see his great-grandmother for a few days in early August, which gave me a free run to focus solely on the dissertation. I can't imagine what it must have been like for you with two small kids around!

    2. I sent my son and wife to Korea for about four weeks so that I could focus solely on my dissertation. It must have been tough for those with children, trying to complete a dissertation but also trying to juggle parenting. It helped a lot when my son and wife were in Korea but I did miss them a lot.

    3. That's why I'm glad I got this done now before the second one comes along!

  3. Amazing! Well done, Dave! Look forward to reading more about it.

    With all these numbers I'm not sure though if I was inspired by your post to write my dissertation, it seems there's always something more interesting to spend my energy on :-) but well, once I finish it I'm sure it'll be a relief, as it's been for you.

    1. Yes, those 'more interesting things to spend my energy on' slowed me down a bit. I'm sure I could have been finished in half the time if I had not got distracted at certain points. Then again, it was good to be able to take on this task at a semi-leisurely pace withou any last-minute rushing around.

      Good luck with your dissertation, when you get round to it ;)

  4. Congratulations on the completion, Dave! I envy you.

  5. Chapeau, Dave! I envy you - mine is still to come (I'm due to start next month).

    Now I'm looking forward hopefully to your advice on writing MA Dissertations, after having read your articles on writing MA assignment papers :)

    Biggest worry I have is that I've still no idea what to write the dissertation on. Lots of different things have interested me during the course but nothing yet stands out as an obvious topic for a dissertation.


Post a Comment

Thanks for commenting! Your comment will appear after Dave has approved it. :-)