Students think they can dupe teachers into believing they met the required paper length, but professors have a differing opinion.”Most teachers know what the tricks are,” English professor Andrew Alexander said. “They are not fooling anyone by doing these things.”
Alexander, who has seen most of the old tricks, stumbled upon a new technique posted on a video website that claims its technique is undetectable. It shows students how to enlarge periods in order to make the paper longer, though cautions against using commas or other punctuation because they are more noticeable.
“It’s a clever trick, but now their teachers know to look out for it,” writing clinic tutor Benn Labarge said.
When asked, students can list the paper lengthening techniques that they admit to using or hearing about being used.
“There’s always double spacing, messing with the fonts, whatever you can do, repeat yourself a little different to get more sentences in there,” sophomore Megan Morton said.
Alexander claims that it doesn’t matter what technique is used as much as the “topics not addressed in as much depth as they might be.”
“People waste too much time thinking these things up when you could add more thought and detail,” he said. “There’s always a little more you can add.”
Other professors tend to agree with the sentiment that content is more important than the length of a paper.
“To hand in a short paper or synthetically lengthened means the content is inadequate,” english professor Flo Keyes said. “You can’t change what you said by making it look longer.”
Keyes uses page ranges to let the students know how in-depth they need to go in their research and development.
“You can’t go as in depth in five pages as in ten,” Keyes said.
Some teachers, like Keyes, will take a grade off for every page under the required length that the paper is. Others, like Alexander, will grade the content accordingly and point out the content that could have been more thorough if the paper met the appropriate length.
“If substance isn’t there, you won’t get the grade,” Keyes said. “A lame paper is a lame paper, no matter if you try to make it fit the paper length or not.”
Heath Haskell, who works in the writing clinic, said that not many people come in looking for help to lengthen their paper, but if they did, his reply would be to make main points better and more impacting.
Andre Fleche in the history, government, politics, and economics department stated that it was “ironic” that students spent so much time filling out the paper length rather than the content.
“Quite often students freak out about page length, not support, which is the important thing when we talk about writing,” Fleche said.
In the science department, Mark Fox doesn’t see a lot of paper lengthening because he usually assigns short papers and makes the expectations clear about margins, font size, and length.
“There’s really no question if determined ahead of time,” Fox said.
Nursing student, Kirana Fowler, agreed that expectations are helpful, “otherwise you find yourself putting stuff in you don’t need.