Like all thesis advisers, I wish that all doctoral dissertations that reach me are academically cogent, coherent — and sound.

I’ve edited numerous that were sloppily written; did not have clear thesis statements; were sparse on research; and the writers had clearly confused fact-finding with analysis.

There are also those that exceed the allowable word limit by a overwhelming margin.

One dissertation, in particular, came in at 190,000 words (that’s more than 800 pages, with 52 tables/charts and 38 illustrations), when the word limit was 80,000 (there were many overlaps and repetitions in each chapter and, sadly, insufficient analysis); another came in at 130,000 words, for what should have been a maximum 70,000-word submission.

Several of these overly pedantic dissertations were written by heads of programs at universities and community colleges.

Whatever the circumstances, and whatever the standard, I handle the editing process patiently but firmly, being mindful not to bruise egos as I ruthlessly red-line and delete sentences and paragraphs that serve no purpose.