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Masters Discussion Forum

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This Category: > Masters Advice / Support


Questions being asked at end of presentation

User: helebon - 21 July 2017 09:33

I presented my research recently, I'm an MRes student. One of the markers marking my work asked me if I'd heard of a particular author. I said I had not heard of that author before but I continued to discuss that I have read papers on a very related and connected subject. The marker did not ask me if I was aware of the particular aspect they were referring to. It was an aspect that is covered by many authors. The feedback from this maker was that I was unaware of wider debates in the area.
This makes me quite annoyed as I recently asked a doctor/consultant if he had heard of an author in his field of medicine. He replied, "no, are they American?." At no point did I assume the consultant was unaware of debates in his field of medicine.

How can that marker assume so much?, they didn't read my written work before marking me and I never got to meet them in person. I have so many questions about how these academics mark work and I am now starting to question academia in general. I have been advised by the course leader the feedback sheet is the discussion and that's it, it can't be discussed further. (Unless I make a formal complaint, I guess)

User: TreeofLife - 21 July 2017 15:59

See, this is the great thing about academia: you can't appeal academic judgement. Whether we graduated last week, or 40 years ago, we know better than you. Apparently.

There's nothing you can do. You only have a case if you believe there was a mistake made in marking e.g wrong criteria used or unfairness due to prejudice or something.

User: helebon - 21 July 2017 17:04

Thanks. Marking me on if I have heard of a particular author, that could fall into the wrong criteria used. I have paid around 6K for this course and I don't really see it as fit for purpose.

User: Tudor_Queen - 21 July 2017 19:39

Hey Helebon

It is very annoying as it can be very subjective (increasingly so the further along you get - that is what I've found at least). The thing to do is to aim high, do your best, and yet accept that sometimes the mark is going to fall wide of what you expected/think you deserve.

The main thing is that you will have obtained a Masters. It shows that you are capable of study at a postgraduate level.


User: TreeofLife - 21 July 2017 21:09

Quote From helebon:
Thanks. Marking me on if I have heard of a particular author, that could fall into the wrong criteria used. I have paid around 6K for this course and I don't really see it as fit for purpose.

I can assure you that will not be grounds to make a complaint to get the marks changed, at least not at my uni. That is academic judgement, it's basically their opinion - that marker thinks that you don't know this subject area well enough because you don't know that author.

The marking criteria could be "the student knows the background", a scale 1-5, the marker thinks 2/5 and makes a comment you didn't know that author. There may have been other things you didn't know as well, but they just didn't write it all down. It's not that they used the wrong criteria.

How can you argue it? "I know the background, the marker is wrong", marker says "no you don't, you missed out this and this", "but I knew this and this", "so what, you missed out this and it's really important".. You can't win. Think about it, it's like a case of who will they believe, the marker who for all you know has been studying this area for infinite years, or you, who's been studying it for one?

The wrong criteria would be that they assessed your work using a marking scheme meant for something else, or judged you at the level of a PhD student, not a MSc student, something like that.

User: helebon - 22 July 2017 01:30

OK thanks. It wasn't the markers field of
expertise. I have discussed the aspect in my lit review, that was submitted months before. My course leader knows the marker and said they were amazed the marker knew of the author.

User: helebon - 22 July 2017 06:50

I should have also mentioned my research idea is cross disciplined. I could have researched the MRes idea in two very different schools at my university. I was able to take a module in the other school as a module option. I can see it may have been a communication issue. I need to spell everything out in my thesis. I will take time discussing in detail my employment background and relevant experience and relate it to my thesis.

User: helebon - 23 July 2017 09:24

I asked my supervisor if it would have been ok to audio record my presentation and questions for developmental reasons. They said yes, Of course, I would have checked first with the people in the room that this was ok. I wish I had recorded this.

Can I audio record my Viva? Will there normally be a chairperson at an MRes viva?

User: chickpea - 23 July 2017 11:41

I think you need to put these questions to your supervisor/department, since there is variation in viva practice (eg some departments will have a chairperson and some won't). I haven't heard of a viva being audio recorded, although in saying that there are plenty of vivas on YouTube, so it must happen!

As others have said here, academic judgement can't be appealed, no matter how subjective and peripheral to your work the feedback may seem. I am dealing with this post-PhD viva, so I can sympathise. I think the only thing for it is to get the qualification and move on.

User: helebon - 23 July 2017 13:34

Thanks, Chickpea. I am writing part of my thesis conclusion now, even though I have not finished the main body. This is so I can reiterate important parts, so there's no assumptions or confusion!