ECONOMIC & SOCIAL RESEARCH COUNCIL
Getting inside the mind of an expert management researcher
Your learning through the two-way process of academic discourse
Who do we think you are?
Who do you think your audience is?
What’s distinctive about researching management?
Induction into a western tradition of academic scholarship
What’s your ‘academic comfort zone’, and how could you expand it?
Official expectations that you will develop your critical frame of mind
Expectations check-up
How well does your work match-up to your assessors’ expectations?
Are you a more critical thinker than you realise?
Experiences of thinking critically in your academic work
Helping yourself learn to think like an expert management researcher
Comparing lists of Dos and Don’ts
Maximising your learning by linking critical reading with self-critical writing
How well does your work match-up to your assessors’ expectations?


If you have just started your postgraduate or doctoral programme, or have only recently become an academic, you may be wondering how far you have already learned to think, read and write in the way that is now expected of you. When you come to write for assessment, try to meet all the criteria that will be employed for assessing your work. If you receive feedback, you can check what it implies for your progress with developing your critical frame of mind. Consider what you might concentrate on to further your progress.

You may have submitted writing for assessment already, and have received feedback. If so, it is worthwhile looking at this feedback now. You can check how well your assessors perceive that you are meeting the assessment criteria. You can also get an indication of how you may need to develop your critical frame of mind further. Here are some examples of possible assessors’ comments and their implications for developing your critical frame of mind. 

Here are some examples of possible assessors’ comments and their implications for developing your critical frame of mind. 

Suppose your assessors have given you constructively critical comments like these: 


You need to be more critical.’ 

  • Maybe you need to develop further your ability to evaluate others’ arguments, rather than simply describe what’s in the literature. 

You're being overcritical.’ 

  • Maybe you need to develop a more balanced view of what authors’ can feasibly do to find things out and demonstrate convincingly that they have done so.

What exactly is the focus?’ 

  • Maybe you need to try setting yourself a question to answer and stating that you are doing this, then seek to answer your question. 

You should be more convincing.

  • Maybe you need to provide stronger evidence to support your conclusion. Alternatively you might make more modest claims in your conclusion so they match the amount of evidence you have to support it.

I’m unclear where the discussion is leading to.

  • Maybe you need to structure your writing so that you more explicitly work towards a conclusion which answers a question you have asked in the introduction. 

I’m not sure how this bit is relevant to the focus.’ 

  • Maybe you need to keep more firmly in mind the development of your argument, so that you can avoid digressions which may be interesting but don’t help to build support for your conclusion.

Referencing must be more complete and more accurate.

  • Maybe you need to take extra care to insert references in the text where you are drawing on others’ work because you are using it to support your argument. References in the reference list must be accurate because they enable your assessors, in principle, to check that you have fairly represented what the authors have claimed.

A clear, convincing argument. 

  • Maybe you could valuably look back at how you structured and referenced your account to make your argument clear and convincing to your assessors. You could consider how to build on what you’ve learned by using elements of this structure in your future work.

You may find it useful to go through your assessors’ comments on your writing and to work out their implications for developing further your critical frame of mind.

You could help to speed up your own learning by drawing up a list of learning points that you could refer back to when you are next preparing to write for assessment.