Leave it out!

I’ve successfully completed a first draft of my Early Assignment this weekend, so that leaves me with a week to tidy it up and tweak it. It’s been fairly difficult getting back in the swing of writing academic essays and the rustiness I feel definitely shows up in my attempt. However, there’s bags of time and opportunity left on the course to sharpen things up again. I’ll probably never want to write another essay by the time I get to the end of the course, although it would be nice to tackle a PhD at some point in the future I guess …

Back to reality. So far, everything seems really friendly – constructive debates in the forums, helpful interventions from the course staff and suchlike. I really hope that it stays like this and doesn’t degenerate into some of the fractiousness I’ve witnessed on other courses.

One standard discussion that’s not yet happened is the one on referencing. It usually has done by this point in every other course that I’ve taken, but the excellent resources provided by Leicester and their standardization on APA without the strange local variants that popped up on some OU courses (I still don’t understand what the person who came up with the referencing standards for ED209 in 2009 was on, for example) seems to have provoked total silence on this often contentious matter. So far!

The one topic that does seem to be provoking some head scratching is the rather strange insistence that header and footer text (course identifiers, page numbers and the like) need to be accounted for in the assignment word count, as the anti-plagiarism software the university uses, Turnitin (or Leaveitout, as I’ve started to call it for reasons buried deep in my unconscious) counts them.

It’s clearly some kind of administrative compromise, as there are severe penalties that are quite rightly applied for going over the word count on an assignment. However, losing precious word count to the vagaries of a piece of software which isn’t smart enough to work out the difference between formatting and content seems faintly ridiculous.

As ‘Yes Minister’ taught us:

“Administration is about means, not ends. The only ends in administration are loose ends.”

Update 21/10/2013:

Great news! The course team have confirmed that the headers and footers are now excluded from the assignment wordcount after all.

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