Profile of Experienced Academics who are the Target Readers for Assessed Writing
Experienced enough to have read plenty of postgraduate or doctoral work and academic writing, so they will have a measure by which to judge yours.
Busy, so they will appreciate a logical structure, clear focus and fluent writing style that communicates efficiently.
Fair and respectful, concerned solely with the quality of your argument.
Sceptical, so they won’t accept your argument unless you can adequately back your claims.
Open-minded, ready to be convinced by a well-backed argument, even if their own views are different.
Empathetic, having once been a postgraduate or research student and a novice academic themselves: they will have a sense of how you’re feeling and how difficult it can be to navigate a new topic.
The field of enquiry: knowledgeable about the area in general but possibly not about detailed issues, and not about any professional experience of yours that you may write about. Therefore they will welcome a brief description of specific contexts and content, but only insofar as they are relevant to your argument.
Logic, as expressed in an account that is carefully constructed, well-argued, balanced, meticulous on detail, and reflective.
Rigour and Transparency about how work was conducted, so that they can see how credible the claims in your writing are and in principle repeat for themselves what you have done.
Books and journals, so they know the literature well and will expect you to have read what you write about and to report it accurately (and they may wish to follow up some of your references to extend their own knowledge).
Evidence that you have met the assessment criteria, since no work, however imaginative, can pass or be accepted for publication or funding unless it fulfils the requirements that are laid down.
Signposting, indicating what you’re doing, what you’ve done, and what you’re doing next, and making clear how parts of the written account fit together in supporting your argument.
Waffle: ill-structured writing that is unfocused and leads nowhere.
Avoidable errors that careful proofreading could have picked up, whether in spelling, punctuation, word choice or grammar.
Over-generalization: sweeping conclusions that are unconvincing because they go far beyond the backing provided.
Free-floating recommendations for practice: insufficiently justified proposals about what should happen.
Poor referencing: failure to acknowledge authors, or inaccurate and incomplete reference lists.
Plagiarism: using chunks of someone else’s text as your own work, passing off others’ ideas as your own, or failing to acknowledge your sources adequately.
Conclusions must be warranted by sufficient evidence from research, literature or experience, if they are to be convincing.
Everything in a written account should be relevant to the focus and the conclusions, with each part linked to the next.