March 15th, 2007

Math PhDs and publications

I have some queries regarding mathematicians, scientists (biochemists), and the grad school/getting a PhD process and publication process as it relates to the above. If anyone knows anything about any of the above, I would greatly appreciate the help!

Time and place: Present day, U.S.

Research done: I've done a lot of googling on the subjects of dissertations, theses, qualifying exams, etc, a lot of wiki reading on various related subjects, and also reading of the grad school pages of major math programs (Brown in particular), but I find myself getting hung up on terminology that I suspect is used differently in my field (history) and am thus hitting something of a wall.

I realize that many of these may depend on individual programs, but I'm looking for something of a general idea so that I can build something realistic-looking, especially in terms of timeline and effort.

1. In the field of mathematics (applied mathematics in particular), are the terms 'dissertation' and 'thesis' generally interchangeable? If not, what is the difference? Do you write both on your way to the PhD, or just one? Is there a difference if you gain a Masters in a Masters program or if you get one 'in passing' in a PhD program?

ETA: A quick note to clarify that I'm looking for this as it relates specifically to a graduate program in math. I'm aware of the usage that seems to be normal across many fields - thesis for Masters, dissertation for PhD - but the language used on program websites and in discussions I've found (like this one) seem to be using them interchangeably. Whether that is true or not is what I'm really after. Thanks to everyone who's chimed in for me.

2. How long is a mathematics dissertation (and/or thesis), typically? How long does it take to complete? What is the rough ratio between research time and writing time?

3. In the maths and sciences (biochemistry in particular!), is it common to publish articles which 'claim' a subject, where a theory and perhaps methodology is presented, but the results are to be published at a later date?

4. Any other details people might have that relate to the grad school experience in applied mathematics, in terms or requirements, time spent on specific aspects of it, how collaboration on research might work, etc, would be most helpful to me!