Brevity again

At my old blog, I used to whinge every couple of years about whether my papers were getting longer or shorter as I got older. The gist was that there was a shallow upward trend. It’s been about five years. I have a short note forthcoming, so I’ve thought about it again. Here’s the updated scatter plot.

graph of paper length against year of publication

The green dots are co-authored papers, and they show a very shallow upward trend. The trend for all papers (blue) is flat.

I’m gratified by this, because I think that short to middle-length papers are generally better than long, ponderous ones. And I like to think of myself as the sort of person who writes the kind of paper that I prefer.


In order to make this post ironically, tediously long, here’s the whole data set. My dissertation and book are included for the sake of comparison, and items are sorted by length (listed in thousands of words).

75. …planets to mallards (2012)
43. Underdetermination and the claims… (2003)
10. Why novel…* (2013)
8.2 Reid’s defense… (2008)
8.0 What kind of is-ought…* (2017)
8.0 On trusting… (2009)
7.8 Are digital pictures…* (2014)
7.8 Realist ennui…* (2005)
7.3 Judging Covers* (2013)
6.9 The Identical Rivals…* (2010)
6.9 Is there an elephant…* (2007)
6.7 Drakes, seadevils… (2011)
6.7 Inductions, red herrings… (2010)
6.5 Taxonomy, ontology… (2018)
6.5 Reckoning the shape… (2005)
6.3 Friends with benefits!* (2015)
6.3 Historical individuals… (2012)
6.1 No grist for Mill… (2014)
6.0 Historical individuals… (2010)
5.9 Distributed cognition… (2007)
5.5 Demonstrative induction… (2008)
5.1 Kind of Borrowed… (2016)
5.1 Williamson on knowledge…* (2003)
5.0 Art concept pluralism* (2011)
4.9 John Stuart Mill… (2015)
4.8 Miracles, trust… (2011)
4.6 Background theories… (2005)
4.5 Science and rationality… (2014)
4.4 Peirce… (2005)
4.2 The price of insisting… (2004)
4.1 What scientists know… (2013)
3.9 Success, truth… (2003)
3.8 Epistemic categories… (2014)
3.3 Un… Identical Rivals (2003)
2.9 Mag Uidhir… (2008)
2.7 Whats new… (2006)
2.6 NK != HPC (2014)
2.6 Hormone research… (2005)
2.5 Cautious realism… (2018)
2.5 Preserving the autographic…* (2015)
1.9 review of Scientific Collaboration (2018)
1.7 Reid’s dilemma… (2004)
1.7 review of Evidence and Method (2013)
1.6 review of Carving Nature… (2012)
1.4 Philosophy of Science in the 21st…. (2010, 2013)
1.3 Early response… (2008)
1.0 That some of Sol Lewitt’s… (2018)

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