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Reference lists to be included in Business School word counts

Mary Ward reports.

University-of-Sydney

Reference lists and citations will now be included in assessment word counts for Business School students, after the faculty announced changes to its academic policy at the start of semester.

The changes, which were revealed in this semester’s Unit of Study outlines, will apply to assessments submitted by both undergraduate and postgraduate students.

Under previous policy, reference lists and citations were commonly excluded from assessment word counts.

Business School Associate Dean (Undergraduate) Associate Professor Rae Cooper told Honi the change occurred to allow for an easier determination of word count when using Turnitin software for submission, so that markers did not have to manually determine the word count of a submitted assessment where its reference list was submitted in the same document.

Some business students have been upset by the policy change.

A change.org petition started by SRC General Secretary Lachlan Ward calls on the Business School to rethink the policy, which the petition alleges was implemented with “minimal” consultation and will discourage students from using a wide range of resources when researching an assignment.

Cooper told Honi Unit of Study coordinators had been “advised” to increase word counts to allow for the new policy. She also denied the changes had been implemented without student consultation, saying they were discussed at the undergraduate and postgraduate faculty board meetings, both of which have student representation.

But Ward said he doubted longer word counts would help.

“[Students] are still forced to pick between more words and more reference, which is detrimental and punishing [to] more studious students.”

Ward told Honi that in a meeting with Deputy Dean John Shields on Friday, he was informed the changes were a pilot study for the semester. He added that Shields appeared to be amenable to student feedback.

He expects to submit his petition to the Dean later this week.