Thursday, April 13, 2006

word counts and related things

Profgrrrl got a bunch of us diverted by calculating our manuscripts' readability statistics earlier today. Along the way I glanced at the word count for my paper in review: 8200 words not counting refs and figure captions. This comes out to ~30 pages double spaced + 12 figures, tables, and an auxillary dataset. And it feels like a monster. One of my reviews even commented about its length (as in, publish it even though its long).

But just now I got curious and did the word count for the paper I am currently writing: 3700 words and I need to add to the introduction, and write discussions and conclusions. So I can see it getting quite a bit longer before its done. Of course, this is the first draft and it will undoubtedly get tighter as I go through the editing process. So let's estimate that in the end it will be about 6000 words and 5(?) figures.

I went to my professional society web site and looked at all the instructions for authors, but I couldn't find anything about how long a manuscript should (or shouldn't) be. And I'm not going to sit down and count someone's published article.

What is a typical manuscript length in your field?

7 comments:

RageyOne said...

In my area, no more than 6000 words for some journals and others state between 10 - 30 pages (double spaced).

~profgrrrrl~ said...

I generally follow the 20-30 double-spaced pages rule, although a few journals want less and a few will take more.

turtlebella said...

Oddly, I thought the "flagship" journal in my field would have a limit but it doesn't actually say anything about length. The manuscript I'm currently working on is 5,830 words (not including 2 figures and five tables) and the journal it's going to has a suggested length of 3500-5000, not including figures and tables. So there's quite a bit of editing that needs to be done! I'm completely addicted to checking the word count/stats on my manuscripts as I write...something to do when I need a little break!
(Am new- nice blog!)

Nuthatch said...

About 20 pages in my field, and shrinking. Which, I think in some cases, is too bad. What gives when you have a complex ecological topic that requires a longer introduction, or complicated methods, or lots of tables, or a really thoughtful discussion? I have a humongous paper out for review that will have to be cut in thirds. The idea of three papers is nice, but each is likely to be diluted in some way. And of course the importance of publishing SOMETHING often comes before publishing something great.

DRD said...

6000 words, including tables and figures which count for 250 words a piece.

Tiesha's Place said...

usually no more than 3000 words in my field, and a fee for tables and figures.

sheepish said...

Flagship journal: 10 double-spaced pages, including intro, figs, equations, and references. (i.e. 4 two-column, single-spaced journal pages). I think it amounts to about 2500-3000 words.

Next tier journal: Can be as long as 3x that, but that's rare.

(For context: field is in the engineering/natural sciences)