5 Marks Off!

Previously, Dr Croc said something about word limit. I have got to agree with him now that I have suffered the same issue he was discussing then. I scored a 40/45 for the main content of my research paper, including an interview with a researcher, 5 interviews with citizens of Singapore and thorough literature research into the topic of population. Yes, that’s pretty high.

Unfortunately, I wrote a total of 4000 words instead of the 3000 words that I was supposed to write since the limit set at my level is 3000 words. This simple act of being hardworking and more thorough with my research, which is supposed to show how serious I was with my work resulted in a deduction of 5 marks off my research paper, resulting in a pretty miserable 35/45.

Well, I admit I wasn’t abiding by the word limit set earlier and should have at least made it a point to cheat on my word limit (by not counting the headings, the sub-headings, and making more footnotes). But I thought it should be perfectly fine if the words carry out their final purpose of informing the reader of the important details of the research and give more information on the topic itself.

The whole problem is that the grading or score should reflect on the quality of the paper and so by deducting marks off the paper for infringement of word limit, the marks are not truly reflecting the quality of the paper. In my opinion, for record purposes and also to benefit the student, the school should show the raw score (not yet deducted), then the final score, and place a remark: “Deducted 5 marks for exceeding word limit”. That would at least show the other parties looking at the marks that the student has the capability to score well, except that the school system’s restrictions have caused him some inconvenience obtaining the score he deserves.

If this is not done, he will be placed in the same category as those who have not put in effort in their research paper, causing him further inconvenience by reducing his confidence in the subject he is good at. Worst, this reduction in score and ‘discrimination’ may end with the student facing ridicule and finally breaking down, or failing in the subject due to lack of the necessary courage to undermine the rules imposed in answering the questions (maybe he could have scored better if he raised some politically-incorrect opinions, but because of the fear or the ‘rules’, he fail to do so and end up producing sub-standard work). This is bad.

And if we analyse the problem further, we realise that this student would also be discouraged to advance further in this subject of interest and the act of deduction of score would end up causing the society to lose a talent in the particular field – when our nation already has a lack of talent, so much so that they have to be ‘imported’. Ah! That’s it! We now understand why some nations lack talents, it is probably because of such ridiculous structures imposed – ‘Word Limit for Research Paper; failing to abide by it will result in loss of marks’. Then we will have some nice students writing an apology at the end of the research paper:

We are sad to inform you (my dear mentor/reader) that this paper do not reflect the complete research we have done and the few pages that you have read did not present 5 important population charts, 10 pages of analysis on the trends that our nation will be experiencing in the next 5 years, 2 pages of analysis of the role of policies in fostering new ideals on population that may ultimately result in change of societal norms, etc. – due to the word limit imposed on us by the department head. We are also sorry for not being able to present the complete list of the important stuff we did, but missed out in this research paper – also because of the word limit. We apologise for any inconvenience caused by the apparent missing details. To find out more, please log on to: http://myresearchpaper.com/missingdetails/.

Then the research paper submitted ends up as a brochure for your ‘full’ research paper that is online. Best of all, this nicely done ‘brochure’ includes a preview to your paper and allows the teacher to have a ‘sneak peek’ into the research topic.

Of course, other students facing the same problem won’t do this; they will start sites to flame the department head – well, that was before the purges; you won’t see the sites nowadays. I think some department head should really go back and reflect – maybe dust his education masters thesis and see if he exceeded the word limit. Or even better, write a research paper on ‘Relationship between imposing word limit for research papers and the number of students flaming department heads’.


4 responses to “5 Marks Off!”

  1. If you cannot compress your research paper into the word limit requirement it’s nobody’s fault but your own.

  2. The research paper is not a test on how succinct you can be but how thorough you are in your research, we should not allow language to become the limitation of expressing our findings much less the word limit.

    I would admit that for the deduction, I deserve it, especially when the department head has set the limit before anyone embarked on the research but I believe justice should be done by indicating beside the marks that I am not getting what I deserve not because of the quality of the research itself but due to superficial presentation mistakes and perhaps some mishandling of the English Language.

  3. You should write something new.

  4. Okay, I will do it the day after tomorrow, when my English Os is over.

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