Department of Geography

In academic year 2009/2010 Semester 1, the Department of Geography announced that undergraduates who are doing Independent Study Module (ISM) and Honors Thesis (HT) are required to meet a new word length limit for their written works. This new word length limit is set at 4000 and 12,000 respectively for ISM and HT. In previous years, the word count limit was 5000 and 15,000 respectively for ISM and HT.

For undergraduates who are working on Physical Geography related topics, the presentation of collected empirical data can be in the form of tables, graphs and figures. On the other hand, the presentation of empirical data collected by undergraduates working on Human Geography related topics are often in the form of quoted texts. This is because of the emphasis placed on the qualitative methodological approach.

According to the guidelines provided by the Department of Geography (downloadable at http://www.fas.nus.edu.sg/geog/pdf_doc/HT_Guide.doc), the permitted word length excludes tables, graphs and figures.

Under this system of word count limit, it is clear that a disjuncture exists between qualitative-oriented and quantitative-oriented works.

Qualitative methods valorize depth and roundedness in the collection of empirical data. Since it does not aim for generalizability, the rigour of the data lies within the textual evidences collected through methods such as interviews, focus groups and archives.

In order to make a strong case for qualitative arguments, a large amount of texts are often quoted within the text body of the written report. As such, we find that ISMs and HTs dealing with qualitative inquiry are very much disadvantaged because of the recent word length reduction, from 15,000 to 12,000.

Therefore we seek permission to quote our empirical data, in the form of texts, in text boxes that can be named as figures/tables/plates. In addition, these texts would not be included in final word count in the produced written reports.

There should be a non-discriminatory treatment towards the nature of qualitative methods under this implementation of word length limit.

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The Non-discriminatory Treatment towards Qualitative Methodological Approach petition to Department of Geography was written by Ian and is in the category Education at GoPetition.