A common complaint when a student has to write something (a proposal, a short paper, an abstract, a fellowship application) with a strict word limit is that the length limitations are so restrictive that it is difficult to get the main point across.
A common complaint when a student has to write something longer (a long paper, a thesis) with a more generous (or no) length limit is that there it's hard to know how to structure such a long document.
A common complaint when a student has to write a medium length document.. never mind, you get the point.
Some documents are long, some are short. This is something that most of us in academia deal with all the time. Learning how to make your case in a concise, convincing, and interesting way (written or spoken) is an important skill. Learning how to hold a reader's interest in a long document is also an important skill.
Learning how to do these things with content and not relaying too much on ATTENTION-GETTING FORMATTING and empty phrasing ("The implications of these results are very significant for many reasons") is also an important skill.
I have had students say "I could have written a better proposal if I'd had more space." I do not find that excuse compelling even though it is well known that writing shorter documents is more challenging than writing longer ones ("If I'd had more time, I would have written a shorter letter", T.S. Eliot).
Even so, you should be able to deal with whatever restrictions you are given. Everyone submitting a proposal or abstract or paper to the same program/conference/journal has the same restrictions. Those who figure out how to explain their research well in the given amount of space will succeed.
And if you can extend that to speaking concisely and clearly about the most essential and fascinating elements of your research, that's even better. You can use these skills to impress hiring committees, colleagues, prospective students, and perhaps even your mother.
12 years ago