About this Resource
Productive reading
Writing effectively
Who are you trying to convince?
Putting yourself in your assessor’s place
Identifying explicit criteria underlying audience feedback
Looking for feedback on what you are doing well and what needs improving
Feedback prompt list: reinforcing the good and avoiding the weak
Identifying the implicit criteria underlying audience feedback
Expanding what you learn from audience feedback
Familiarising yourself with the official criteria for assessment
Learning systematically from audience feedback
Learning from your writing for formative and summative assessment
Formative and summative assessment in writing for academic presentation
Criteria for academic presentation and developing a convincing argument
Comparing criteria for academic publication and assessing students’ work
Who needs convincing if your work is to get published in an academic journal?
Inside an academic journal editor’s world
Getting to grips with academic journal criteria for acceptance
Building your sense of audience: an interview with a journal editor
Top tips for postgraduate and doctoral research students who aspire to get published
Arguing convincingly
Mapping your field
Literature reviewing
Reviewing the literature systematically
Developing proposals

Identifying the explicit criteria underlying audience feedback

Assuming that you are a postgraduate or doctoral research student, you have probably sought and soon got used to your tutor or supervisor giving you feedback on your academic writing. You will have become familiar with trying to learn from this feedback. It may offer you two main forms of comment:

  • indications where you are doing well, which will hopefully give you confidence and may encourage you to repeat this aspect of your academic writing in future;
  • indications that you could improve your piece of written work, which will hopefully show you how to respond in revising it, or what to do better next time.

There is more that you could be learning at the same time as noting where you’ve done well and responding where you need to improve. Expert management researchers will have learned from their experience of writing for academic publication or writing research proposals that most journals or funding agencies make explicit the criteria (rules for assessing) that they ask reviewers to use in judging the quality of the submission. Many have become so familiar with these criteria that they automatically try to meet them in the work they submit. They also develop their own criteria of good practice which they apply alongside the official journal of funding agency criteria when reviewing others’ work.

You can speed up your learning to work instinctively towards meeting the criteria that are being used to judge your work. It is worth making a habit of identifying the criteria of good practice that underlie the feedback you’ve received, and then trying consciously to meet these criteria in your future writing for assessment. Sometimes your tutor or supervisor may make a criterion explicit, as in this piece of feedback indicating where the student has done well:

Good account of your empirical findings. In reporting qualitative research it’s important to portray both the range of findings and the most common finding. You’ve done both very convincingly.

 The tutor or supervisor has made explicit the criterion of good practice:

  •  both the spread of findings and the finding that is most prevalent should be reported

The feedback gives the student reinforcement in planning to report both the range of findings and most common finding when reporting other research in future.

Here is a piece of feedback about improving a student’s draft literature review assignment:

Your conclusion section just repeats some of the findings from your literature review. A conclusion should contain one or more major claims about what all the literature you have reviewed together tells you about the topic. What key messages can you identify that come-up across most or all of the literature you’ve read?

How could the student respond in revising the draft? The tutor or supervisor has indicated what needs to be done in two ways. First, by making explicit the criterion of good practice:

  • the conclusion of a literature review should contain claims relating to key messages from the literature as a whole

Second, by giving the student a clue about how to improve the conclusion section through identifying key messages across the literature.

So the student can learn through trying out this idea in revising the assignment. But the student could learn even more by taking note of the criterion of good practice about what a conclusion should contain, and remembering to apply this criterion in future written work.

Have a quick look back at any feedback you have received from your tutor or supervisor on any of your drafts or completed work on which you have already been given feedback. See if you can identify the criteria of good practice that underpin the feedback you received. Look for lessons you can learn for improving your future written work from both:

  • where you have met particular criteria well so it may be worth repeating what you did
  • where you have not met particular well so it may be worth avoiding what you did and doing something different