Getting the feedback you need (for students)
Feedback on our written work is something that we tend to have mixed feelings about: we want and need it, but we dread what supervisors, reviewers or peers may say about our writing. It is difficult not to take critique personally. Sometimes, we anticipate constructive feedback, and get far less than that, and this lack of guidance and advice from supervisors or mentors can make it difficult to progress, and grow in ability and confidence as researchers and writers. We cannot always choose out supervisors at postgraduate level, or induce them to give us the feedback we want in the tone we want it in. But we can, where possible, become proactive feedback seekers through focusing on developing an awareness of who and where we are as writers in the research process. It is an important part of our development as researchers to learn not just how to respond constructively to feedback, but also how to ask for feedback that will prompt us to develop as writers and thinkers. This presentation takes students through the different kinds of feedback they could ask for at different stages of the research process, and offers advice and a few examples students could use to guide them in seeking feedback from their own supervisors and mentors proactively and constructively.
Who else might find this useful?
This material is primarily for postgraduate scholars, to assist them in reflecting on what kinds of feedback they need and want on their writing, and to offer advice on how to proactively look for this feedback from supervisors and mentors.
Questions for users:
- For supervisors/PG support staff: Consider offering your students opportunities to ask you for particular kinds of feedback – show them that these kinds of requests would be welcome. Encouraging your students to become more proactive will benefit you in the longer run, as they will likely feel more ownership of, and responsibility for, their writing and research. Consider watching the related video on giving formative feedback, designed for supervisors and mentors.
- For students: what kinds of feedback have you been getting? How has it helped you, and how could it be improved in terms of being useful to you? Consider translating these reflections into an approach to your relationship with your supervisor that shows them: your willingness to receive feedback; your awareness of where you are in your research process and what feedback you feel you need; and your ability to respond to the feedback effectively.
Explore these additional resources
- Why does feedback hurt? https://thesiswhisperer.com/2014/05/28/why-does-feedback-hurt-sometimes/
- Coping with harsh feedback http://jameshaytonphd.com/how-to-cope-with-harsh-supervisor-feedback/
- Getting what you need from feedback: https://doctoralwriting.wordpress.com/2014/02/14/feedback-on-writing-not-getting-what-you-need/; http://wp.me/p3VNfn-5A
- On being braver in asking for feedback: https://thesiswhisperer.com/2014/02/05/are-research-students-a-bit-like-meerkats/
- Seeing feedback as a gift: http://wp.me/p3VNfn-aE
- Deciphering your supervisor’s feedback: http://wp.me/p3VNfn-4j