Friday, 1 November 2013

Getting hung up on 'word count'

A contentious issue that has raised its head again is 'word count' - with students asking 'what if I go over' etc...

Here's my stock reply - I understand that most find this useful:

The official line from the University is that we can't penalise for being over the word count.  However, what we can penalise for is not writing concisely, content not relevant to the topic (waffle?), and repetition.  So - if you are heading well over the suggested word count, perhaps you need to go back and make sure that your study can't be accused of any of that.

One way you could reduce the word count may be to put some of the data from your findings in an appendix and then report them in summary form in the Findings and Discussion chapter.  Also - watch out for long quotes - you can paraphrase very concisely.

If you google 'reduce word count' you might come up with other suggestions.  Here's one I like: http://expertedge.journalexperts.com/2013/01/01/editing-tip-of-the-week-reducing-word-counts/.

If anyone finds good advice elsewhere please post a comment here.

Very kindest regards to all, David

2 comments:

Ben Mudrak said...

Glad you found the post helpful! I work with lots of researchers trying to publish in scholarly journals, and I find difficulty in getting them to focus on overall wordiness instead of ways to get their manuscripts just one word below the word limit. Usually they would be better served dealing with the issues you mention.

We do have some other posts on concise writing (including using strong verbs) if they might be helpful to your readers.

Best regards,
Ben Mudrak
Education Program Manager, AJE

David Callaghan said...

Hi Ben
Thanks for the comment and the further link - will post it to my group.
Very kindest regards,
David Callaghan