The exact quote is:Back when I was a grad student I was spinning out of control trying to come up with a thesis topic. My advisor took me out to lunch one day and asked me a simple question: “What is a PhD thesis?” I yattered on for a while and he listened patiently. Eventually he said “No: It’s just a stack of 100 pages with 4 signatures on top”. I was falling into a common grad student trap of feeling that I needed to do something grandiose and solve all of the worlds problems. He was into “keep it simple”. So I did, and I came up with a pretty straightforward thesis proposal. The odd thing was that when I finally finished my thesis, I realized that I had only delt with one sentence out of the simplified proposal.
One more link on the same matter: Thesis proposal: Keep it simple
And another one which is useful from ablogging perspective too.:
Thesis proposal: Start, write, throw away, rewrite