Word counts and caffeine logs

I submitted my PhD dissertation at the start of this week. Dissertation writing is a long, slow process. Who knew?

Broad stats, for interest:

Although word and page counts are not at all barometers of the quality of a PhD dissertation, these counts put me right in the middle of the University’s guidelines.

My word count grew initially in bursts. In the final days, it was hovering around the 41,000 word mark:

The latter chapters were being expanded while earlier chapters were being tweaked down to size, and so the number of words written per day is actually higher than the total words, but I don’t have an easy way to pull out that data. The long flat section between July and August was when work was diverted to work on an INFOCOM 2012 submission.

But the most important meta metric is surely caffeine, which I started logging at the same time I rigged my scripts to log my word count. Broken very simply down into tea and coffee, my cumulative intake is as follows:

That is, 407 mugs logged (230 of which were coffee, 177 of which were tea) across 139 days. Those are the ones I remembered to log, of course. I actually thought my tea count would have been much less than it was, but no matter.

Broken down by week, I think it’s safe to wave my hands in the air and state that there’s a distinct trend toward moar caffeine in the final weeks:

So, there we go. I was burning through a lot of coffee in the final stages while clearing up a pile of annoying consistency glitches. I haven’t read back any of my dissertation since submission, but I think I am happy with the content therein, and the thrust of the argument. I think I have done some good work, and I am pretty happy with it.

Naturally, I have a list of pet issues and errors, without even reading the text. However, turning caffeine into words has now ended. The next phase is the viva, where less caffeine is probably better.


Posted by Stephen Strowes on Friday, November 4th, 2011. You can follow me on twitter.

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