An interesting side-by-side boxplot

Average-dissertation-625x515Here’s an interesting example of a side-by-side boxplot I came across today. It shows data on the length of Ph.D. dissertations for a variety of fields of study. It’s a little crowded, so it’s not the most elegant boxplot. Also, the coloration doesn’t really add much since the fields are simply listed in reverse alphabetical order (?!) and the colors just follow a rainbow gradient. Still, it’s interesting data. Notice how helpful it is to be able to see variation in each group and not just center, and also note the outliers.

The colors would have been interesting if the fields had been grouped and colored by related discipline. It would be interesting to compare, say, math/science to the humanities.

(Math dissertations are definitely among the smallest. My dissertation was 101 pages of actual text, 106 pages if you count the bibliography, or 116 pages if you count all the front matter. Not sure how page count was measured for this graph.)



  1. Clearly we are doomed to repeat history if dissertations of such length are necessary. Thank goodness we still have movies to teach us our history, I’m looking at you, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter!

  2. Hey Sean, your link at the bottom doesn’t open in a new tab. Extra point for everyone on today’s quiz!

  3. @Matt: You’re a funny guy! 🙂

    Link fixed.

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