Marking Criteria of Question-based Essay

Answering the question.
You need, naturally, fully to interpret the set question; to consider key words or phrases; to decide how all parts of the question are connected (although possibly asked in two parts, there are connections that should be reflected in your answer); to devise an analysis and/or essay structure that allows you to answer the question fully; and, through analysis and thought, to determine the key issues, debates and subject matter as opposed to the peripheral or irrelevant.

Knowledge of Cases and Evidence.
It is impossible to gain high marks unless you demonstrate knowledge of countries, institutions, industries, firms, and organizational functions. Evidence enables you to avoid annoying generalizations and sweeping statements. While some cases may support one interpretation of an issue or question, other cases may not. Use your cases and evidence within an analytical structure designed to answer the question rather than just mentioning cases and authors in turn and without clear purpose.

Knowledge of Theory and Literature.
You need to demonstrate an understanding of major authors and theories whenever relevant. But please avoid repeating the work of others at length. Often a short summary is sufficient, and the questions on the course direct you to critique and not exegesis. You should employ theories and concepts as a means of shaping your use of evidence, and theory and evidence should be synergic and not separate.

Analysis and Structure.
This is the main characteristic that defines a good assignment. You are expected to know the major literature and offer evidential support as a basic part of studying for the course. The point is whether you have thought about the material, and whether you can use it to argue coherently and analytically in response to a set problem. The insights implicit in your analysis should be reflected in the design of your assignment structure, which, in turn, should be apparent to the marker.

Comparisons.
It should be no surprise on this course that you have to offer comparisons. It is better to avoid the sequential outline of cases, by which is meant a discussion of (say) the US, Germany, the UK, Japan and China in turn and separately. The approach causes problems in the design of an analytical structure, and it is not directly comparative because you treat each example separately. Place evidence from each nation within the issues set by an analytical structure: that is, if you were to discuss comparative human resources, place choices of evidence from Germany, UK, US, Japan and China into most of the assignment sections dealing with key issues such as training, management education, employment systems, trade unions, etc.

Analysis, Structure and Comparisons

In planning your assignments, and also responses to examination questions, it is valuable to consider several issues:

Decide on your answer to the question or your point of view before you begin. That is, interpret the set question insightfully with both full understanding of its context and implications and an appreciation of its various dimensions and issues.

Include an analysis or description of relevant theories and concepts, blend them with (only) germane evidence and cases, and support your view with theoretical understanding, evidence and cases. To achieve this objective, you must plan your analytical structure carefully and be in a position to establish links between its different sections. That is, do not lose the thematic thread that unites the various aspects of your essay, and ensure that your use of theory, concepts, evidence and analytical structure lead you towards the answer you have already determined. To decide upon the core of your structure, that is the key points of your assignment or examination answer, you must be well read and knowledgeable about the relevant major topics on the course.

One possible answer structure

Introduction. Suggest an answer to the question and outline how you intend to validate your suggested answer by clarifying the analytical structure (and maybe, therefore, the thematic thread or point of view you will pursue).

Describe the key theories, and/or debates, and/or areas of critique surrounding the question. Keep this section as short as possible: you need to state the main concepts but you need greater space to do more in order to acquire higher order marks. Try and establish a link with your structure (in themes and ideas) and the following sections.

  • Key point 1: employ empirical information and quote cases from at least two nations but hopefully more. Make your comparisons between cases direct and explicit.
  • Key point 2: employ empirical information and quote cases from at least two nations but hopefully more. Make your comparisons between cases direct and explicit.
  • Key point 3: employ empirical information and quote cases from at least two nations but hopefully more. Make your comparisons between cases direct and explicit.

Do you need an extra section that pulls the previous sections together, or a section that follows logically from your separate conclusions you make amongst the key points? You may, for example, have analyzed late development characteristics, but might now look at one of the large implications, such as which business systems are more inclined towards long versus short terms.

Are there other aspects of the debate that needed to be added, which could not be easily fitted into the structure, but nevertheless remain relevant? Or are there important debates you feel are ignored by the question? For example, you may have analyzed the ‘classic’ Japanese management structures, but now need to question its relevance for the last ten years. You could discuss the state, culture or any management function at a national level, but then look at the implications of globalization for any analysis that treats nation states in isolation.

Conclusion. If possible, after summarising your answer, discuss other aspects of the debate needing investigation, or assess the reliability of current evidence and research.

An alternative answer structure

Introduction. Suggest an answer to the question and outline how you intend to validate your suggested answer by clarifying the analytical structure (and maybe, therefore, the thematic thread or point of view you will pursue).

Describe the key theories, and/or debates, and/or areas of critique surrounding the question. Keep this section as short as possible: you need to state the main concepts but you need greater space to do more in order to acquire higher order marks. Try and establish a link with your structure (in themes and ideas) and the following sections.

  • Key argument 1: as proposed by one major group of analysts or one well known theorist, and as reflected in your discussion of the literature. Test with empirical information and quote cases from at least two nations but hopefully more. Make your comparisons direct and explicit.
  • Key argument 2: as proposed by one major group of analysts or one well known theorist, and as reflected in your discussion of the literature. Test with empirical information and quote cases from at least two nations but hopefully more. Make your comparisons direct and explicit.

Your resolution of the above debates, justifying your argument logically and empirically.

Are there other aspects of the debate that needed to be added, which could not be easily fitted into the structure, but nevertheless remain relevant? Or are there important debates you feel are ignored by the question? See examples above.
Conclusion. If possible, after summarising your answer, discuss other aspects of the debate needing investigation, or assess the reliability of current evidence and research.

One more alternative structure

Introduction. Suggest an answer to the question and outline how you intend to validate your suggested answer by clarifying the analytical structure (and maybe, therefore, the thematic thread or point of view you will pursue).

Describe the key theories, and/or debates, and/or areas of critique surrounding the question. Keep this section as short as possible: you need to state the main concepts but you need greater space to do more in order to acquire higher order marks. Try and establish a link with your structure (in themes and ideas) and the following sections.

  • Proposition 1: based on your analysis of the literature, state one possible conclusion that you have devised. Test with empirical information and quote cases from at least two nations but hopefully more. Make your comparisons direct and explicit.
  • Proposition 2: based on your analysis of the literature, state one possible conclusion that you have devised. Test with empirical information and quote cases from at least two nations but hopefully more. Make your comparisons direct and explicit.

If both Propositions 1 and 2 are true, then it will lead you inevitably and logically to Proposition 3, which provides an answer to the set question.

Are there other aspects of the debate that needed to be added, which could not be easily fitted into the structure, but nevertheless remain relevant? Or are there important debates you feel are ignored by the question? See examples above.

Conclusion. If possible, after summarising your answer, discuss other aspects of the debate needing investigation, or assess the reliability of current evidence and research.

Source: Royal Holloway University of London

2016-11-10T15:00:30+00:00 Academic Skills|