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

Expanding what you learn from audience feedback

We have suggested that you can make the most of the opportunity for learning from the feedback you receive on your academic writing by both:

  • responding where necessary to improve your present piece of work;
  • identifying the explicit or implicit criteria of good practice underlying the feedback and considering what the implications are for your future writing.

Let’s see how this might work through another example. Here are the title and the beginning of the introduction from the fictional draft of a postgraduate assignment, plus the feedback from the tutor down the right hand side. Try reading the title and introduction first. Then consider the tutor’s feedback.

Analyse the effectiveness of leadership in an organization known to you, drawing on the literature to support your case





There are many interesting theories of organizational leadership. Some concentrate on the personalities, traits, qualities, skills and behaviours of the leaders. But it does not make much sense to think of leaders on their own. You cannot lead yourself. You must have followers. So other theories examine the relationship between leaders and their followers. The way leaders and followers behave may depend on the context - leading a military unit in battle must be very different from leading a company marketing team.


What is your focus in this assignment?


Another interesting aspect of leadership theories is whether they only consider people in formal leadership positions or also include informal leaders who emerge throughout an organization. This will be an important issue in analysing the organization in my experience. It is a medium-sized company in the retail sector with a head office and branches throughout the southwest of the UK. Each branch has a manager who is accountable to head office, a supervisor who reports to the manager, and a team of retail staff.

Good point - leadership in companies may distributed

The nature of leadership throughout the world is changing as a consequence of environmental pressures and shifting expectations about who are organizational leaders and what they should and should not do. There is now much more emphasis on leadership development, based on the practical application of the main leadership theories.

Where is this description leading to?

One of the most popular leadership theories that is applicable to the organization I wish to analyse is ‘transformational leadership’ (Northouse 2007). Much research has been carried out since the 1980s and transformational leadership has been shown to work in many different settings. It is distinguished from mere transactional leadership where leaders get followers to do things in return for giving them something that they want. Transformational leadership is more about helping followers to realise their full potential through making the commitment to contribute towards organizational goals...

Definition of transformational leadership?

 How could the student learn from this feedback? Our suggestions are in the table below.


What is your focus in this assignment?

Good point - leadership in companies may distributed

Where is all this description leading to?

Definition of transformational leadership?

Response in revising this assignment

state that the focus is to use transformational leadership as the basis for analysing effectiveness in the organization

check that the analysis of the company later on includes informal leadership, and make reference to distributed leadership literature


remove this paragraph as it is not very relevant to the focus or the overall argument about leadership effectiveness to be developed

give a definition of transformational leadership and reference the source

Criterion of good practice to be met in future writing

the focus of academic writing should be made clear at the outset, so that the reader knows how the overall argument will be developed


demonstrate wide knowledge of the topic and show how theoretical ideas apply to real settings

ensure that everything in academic writing is relevant to the overall argument being developed

terms that will be central to the argument should be defined, so the reader is clear exactly what the writer means

The student is in a position to do more than just respond to each point of feedback in revising this present assignment. By working out the criteria of good practice underlying the feedback points, the student can learn more deeply how to apply these criteria in improving her or his academic writing in the future. 

You could do the same. Double your learning power!

How? Follow the advice we gave in an earlier learning activity for this key topic. Respond to each piece of feedback in revising your present work, if appropriate. But also try to maximise the learning opportunity. Identify the criteria behind the feedback you receive. Then try to meet those criteria in your future writing until it becomes automatic.