Speaking as someone who has done a bit of report marking (as PhD student working as TA, not as the professor/coordinator).
- Even where a page limit was given, unless the professor has said to deduct marks, I wouldn't deduct marks. Ways the professor could have said that I could deduct marks would include:
- Including a portion of marks for presentation/format/writing style
- A direct statement in the assignment brief (eg "5% marks will be deducted if page limit is violated")
- Telling me in an email or words eg "I have warned the students not to go over X pages, and that they will suffer penalities. If anyone goes over, please deduct 5 marks")
- Similarly, even where the reports have other format requirements (eg present in PDF, and the student submits a MS-Word document), unless there are marks specifically allocated for succeeding/failing at this; marks will not be deducted.
- If it was a case that the report was supposed to be testing the students ability to write concisely, then there will be marks allocated. If marks are not then it isn't being assessed -- so marks won't be deducted.
- However, That does not mean I am happy about receiving an oversized report. I am in-fact unhappy, this unhappiness may end up manifesting in less patience -- wither I intend it or not.
- if your paper includes a mathematical calculation, and the result doesn't match the expected, then I am likely to give some minimal mark and move on. Why? Because I don't have the time to dig closely through the workings to find where the mistake was made, and to judge if it is a simple mistake, or a deep failing of understanding.
- Conversely though, where the report is well written (and reasonably sized), then I will look closer. I have given almost full marks for an answer that was not the answer to the question asked -- because I had the time to look at it closely, see that they were reading the question as using a notation that was not used in class (but was used in industry, with the opposite meaning); and had answered a different but similar question.
- This loss of patience/time would generally show up anywhere that has working that I could quickly tell if it is right or wrong, but that would take a while to verify how wrong it is.
The key factor you are missing when it comes to considering this is that most markers are paid by the hour casuals; and that the unit has a finite budget with which to pay them; so they are told "I will pay you for 8 hours of marking", by the professor. If they can't get the marking done it that time, then they have to go back to the professor, and either ask for more time (and money), or the professor may take it and do it themselves, or they may end up being pressured (internally/subconsciously or directly) to work for free (because they "should" have been able to get it all done.). The key thing here is that when many people write an overlong reports, they are costing the markers money, or respect.
If the marker has 8 hours to mark 40 reports, which were supposed to be 4 pages each then that is not too bad, that is 20 pages (from 5 report) per hour. It means about 10 minutes to read each paper, and a couple of minutes to allocate marks. If your report is 16 pages, then you are using up reading time that belongs to another student, or time that belongs to the marker (when they should have gone home).