Guidelines on Feedback & Marking

General guidelines and principles for marking, feedback and trainees’ response to feedback. Please see the Assessment section of the Programme chapter to help clarify the procedures of marking, feedback and resubmission. 

The aim of marking is to help the trainee to evaluate their own learning and reflect on their own practice, in order to develop academic, research and clinical skills to doctoral level. Trainees are solely responsible for producing the work to schedule, making any necessary changes and improvements and meeting the standards. Academic and research tutors/supervisors can be consulted for advice.

Staff will endeavour to:

  • Type where possible, or else write legibly
  • Phrase comments as objectively and respectfully as possible, and never as personal criticism. We are marking the work, not the person. (The moderator is responsible for double-checking this).
  • Be specific and constructive about what was good and what was missing, irrelevant or incorrect.
  • Explain why the work was given this mark (in the Overall Comments section)
  • Bear in mind the trainee's year level
  • Note positive aspects as well as areas that need more work while ensuring that the balance of the comments reflects the mark (i.e., high marks should be accompanied by mainly positive feedback; low marks will be accompanied mainly by comments about what needs improving)
  • Where there are weaknesses, provide a clear indication of the-required outcome and GENERAL guidance on how this might be achieved but will not do the work for the trainee. Feedback will indicate the areas that need improving and will avoid being too prescriptive. For example, constructive general guidance is 'Your presentation of the xx approach needs to be balanced by including its positive aspects'. An example for too specific feedback is 'Re-submit with 2 paragraphs on RCTs' high internal validity citing Smith 2002 and Jones 2003' is going too far.
  • Markers should make sure they outline the necessary changes under the section “changes required”. These changes NEED to be addressed by the trainee in order to pass the work; they can refer to a specific section in their feedback that illustrates their point/request. Trainees should use information from the entire feedback to address the requested changes.
  • Give a rationale for positive comments about what was done well (rather than just putting 'Fine, Good, Tick’ etc.)
  • Feedback will encourage trainees to come to their own viewpoint. Markers will be aware of their own biases. For example, acknowledge areas where there is legitimate debate (eg 'as a systemic therapist I would add x ...... .' 'some psychiatrists would argue y ... ') and do not mark the trainee down when he/she is contradicting your own view. Rather feed back where the trainee’s argumentation is well supported, referenced or not logical. If the marker feels the trainee has missed a viewpoint/ body of literature this should be highlighted but it should be weighed with respect to scope/word limit available.
  • Avoid making the corrections for the trainee; for example, poor grammar should be commented on and sent back as a conditional pass, not re-written for them. It is useful to point them in the right direction to correct the errors; for example 'Make sure you understand the rules about apostrophes.'
  • Give also feedback on re-submitted work, so the trainee knows what has improved, and what could still be worked on.
  • If the feedback is clear it should not be necessary but be available to discuss/clarify issues raised by the trainee via the moderator if needed.

Trainees will endeavour to:

  • As far as possible keep your work anonymous
  • Look at the feedback in relation to the marking criteria.
  • Not take the feedback personally. It is about a specific piece of work, not you or your overall ability.
  • Respond constructively to a disappointing mark, even if your first reaction is to feel upset. Remember that the aim of feedback is to help you to learn and reflect on your own practice.
  • Not see a disappointing mark as a result of staff malice. Our overall standards are appropriate and closely monitored but also do not expect perfect consistency between markers, since there will always be an element of subjectivity involved.
  • Take time to reflect on the feedback before you respond or – in cases of uncertainty – ask to liaise with the moderator through the Programme Administrator.  It is not expected that it will routinely be necessary to meet the moderator to talk through the feedback in person. However, the moderator will be happy to clarify specific points if necessary via email or in person. A meeting will be more useful if you have thought about what you do not understand, so please identify clearly the specific issues that you want to ask about. It is not expected for trainees to have ongoing contact with the moderator about an individual piece of work.
  • Draft a response letter first before starting to work on the manuscript. This letter will help the marker understanding your rationale for the changes you made and your thinking behind it. Writing a response letter is compulsory for trainees.
  • Click here for an Example response letter to markers which suggests a way to give your feedback. Remember it should remain anonymised.
  • Accept that markers will indicate the required outcome and give general guidance on how this might be achieved and will not normally answer questions on how exactly to do it! ('What am I meant to put here?' 'How shall I phrase this’).
  • Do not expect staff to provide advance assurance that the work will pass: We cannot guarantee this. You should use your own judgment about how your work matches the criteria.
  • Remember that you do not have to agree with specific suggestions, but you do have to address the issues that have been identified and give a clear rationale why you addressed it in this and not another way.
  • Recognise that academic and research work will almost inevitably lead to some anxiety. Try to keep this in proportion. Your tutor can help with this, but we encourage you in your own self-development to find ways of managing your anxiety.
  • Please take responsibility for your work. Remember that seeking advice from multiple sources is bound to result in differing messages, and sometimes they may conflict (even markers are individuals!). Especially with some of the submissions, it is you who will have to make and justify your choices and decisions.