Whoever thought that panel of reviewers think that the longer theses or dissertations are (in terms of pages) the better, may be a bit misinformed. It’s not really the length that counts but the content.
I’ve been thinking of ways to find a research that would spell something big in terms of contribution to society (not big in terms of thickness of the report). What’s should be big (in terms of content) but short (in terms of pages)? But it also got me into thinking, how short is a short thesis or dissertation?
I run Google searches for some of it and found out that although there are such claims for the shortest theses or dissertations, there is no consensus as to which of it got the said title. However here are some of those claims and take note that all of these are in the field of mathematics:
1. John Nash’s dissertation on “Non-Cooperative Games” introduces a concept under the field of game theory which refers to a game having players making decisions independently and the concept of cooperating among the players is self-enforcing and not imposed upon them (Brief Introduction Here). Nash’s paper is a 32-page typewritten technical explanations of handwritten equations in which non-mathematicians (like me) cannot fully appreciate. (Download PDF File).
2. Edmund Landau’s paper entitled “New Proof of the Equation ??!!!?? (punctuations mine)” is popularly cited as the “shortest” based on my Google searches. I can’t seem to find the original version, which was in German, but here’s the 17-page English translation by Michael J. Coons.
3. C.N. Yang’s “On the Angular Distribution in Nuclear Reactions and Coincidence Measurements” is said to be the shortest by far based on my search. In the same way as the above entry, I can’t find the original version. However, after approval by his Ph.D. Committee, Yang published his scientific journal version of the said paper in Physical Review as is the standard practice in most universities. Journal versions most probably have minor revisions thus we can deduce that there is really not much modification from the original dissertation version. You can download the 9-page journal version.
However, I’m not claiming that my search have really been as fruitful as yours. If you think there are other dissertations as short (or even shorter) as those mentioned above, please post those info here using the comment link below.