Developing your critical frame of mind includes learning to write for assessment with a strong sense of who you are trying to communicate with and trying to convince of the argument you are putting forward. One hallmark of expert management researchers is their ability to do more than just express whatever they want to say about an area of management. Intuitively, experts bear in mind that they are writing for other academics who assess their work. They don’t know exactly who the anonymous reviewers are who scrutinise their papers submitted for publication in academic journals. But they do know what the reviewers are likely to be looking for if these reviewers are to find their argument convincing. So they make sure that the reviewers’ expectations are met as far as they can.
This key topic will encourage you to keep a strong sense of your audience in mind whenever you set out to write for assessment. As a postgraduate or doctoral research student, you have one advantage over academic experts writing for publication. You know who your assessors are, and they generally tell you just what they expect to see if they are to judge your work positively. So if you are to maximise your chances of success, you will need to do more than just work out what you want to say. You will also have to take into account what your audience is looking for. You may have to adjust what you want to say so that you do so in a way that meets your readers’ expectations.
Your academic apprenticeship as a postgraduate or research student offers many opportunities for building your sense of audience. The more you work consciously on building this sense of the audience for your writing, the sooner you will find yourself doing so automatically. The aim is to integrate a sense of the critical readers who will judge the convincingness of your argument into your normal way of thinking as a researcher. It is a habit of expert management researchers. You can consciously work on learning this habit through your approach every time you are writing for assessment.
The learning activities in this key topic invite you to clarify not only who you are writing for, but also what criteria for judging the quality of your work your readers are using. There are ideas on how to make the most of the constructively critical feedback you receive on your draft or final written work, and how to develop your written work for presentation at an academic conference or, more ambitiously, for publication in an academic journal.