The importance of academic proofreading, editing, structure and presentation (1)

shutterstock_101817184During the time spent at university, from fresher to graduation you as a student will be required to submit a number of coursework projects in the form of essays, dissertations and reports. There are, of course, numerous academic publication that can be used as a guide to help you develop the content of this coursework and the research methods you can apply.

shutterstock_131629634However, what is somewhat surprising is that little literary attention has been paid to the importance of proofreading, editing, and the structure and presentation of the coursework (PESP). Some may consider these elements to be relatively unimportant, as they might feel that what matters is the content, and to a certain extent this is true. Yet this view fails to consider two important factors, one of which is practical in nature and the other perhaps can be viewed as psychological.

Practical importance

professorsLet us look first at the practical implication related to these factors. When presented with a project to complete, within the instructions (somewhere) there is usually a comment, which indicates that proofreading, editing, structure and presentation (PESP) will account for between 5% and 10% of the final grade mark. Not a big deal you may think, but consider this: The standard grade for a 2.2 project in the UK is around 50-59%, with anything graded below 50% being classed in many instances as a failure (at best a ‘third’). So let us suppose for a moment that your content was only of a sufficient quality to gain you say 47% before accounting for PESP.  If the PESP element of your coursework is of the highest quality, then it will be apparent that in many instances you could gain the those additional percentage points (5 or 10%), which will ensure your work reaches a grade of 2.2.  This small grading differential becomes even more important at higher graduation stages, for example when your requirement is to submit a ‘first’ grade coursework (70% +) and the content of your coursework prior to PESP is only around 68%.

Psychological importance

You may be wondering what PESP has to do with psychology but let me pose the question: who will be psycologically influenced by the quality of the PESP in your work? The answer is you, your tutor(supervisor) and your potential employer.


shutterstock_196021757Let us first focus on you. On results day you are presented with a letter that confirms you have graduated at the 2.1 level, yet you know from the marks that you were inches (less than 5% away from graduating with a ‘First’. How will that make you feel?  Disappointed, less confident? Yet with little effort and attention to PESP, which takes significantly less time than developing and researching the content for your coursework, the pain you feel at that moment could have been turned into pleasure and excitment.  Disappointment and lack of confidence will also impact on your motivation to secure the career position you desire, with the outcome being that you may settle for an employment position that is way below the skills and competences you have acquired.

Your tutor/supervisor

You may be wondering in what ways your tutor/supervisor may be psychologically affected by the quality (or lack thereof) of the PESP applied within your work. Just pause a minute and think of the following. Your tutor/supervisor is providing similar services and help to a number of students, not just you. Therefore he/she has a finite time to devote to each. Let us consider a hypotheticalexample of their marking process. Your tutor is sitting in his/her office late one afternoon with ten coursework submissions to consider and mark.  Nine of these have been effectively proofread and edited, and are well structured and presented. Then they pick up the tenth work and find that is has not been properly proofread or edited, and is not structured or presented at the same level of quality as those he/she had previously marked. What would you do in this situation? Although they will state that each work will be approached with an open mind, it is only human nature that a comparison with the other submissions will be made by the tutor/supervisor. Therefore, with respect to the examiner, the one with a poor level of PESP is likely to receive a more severe level of criticism and grading than then those that have a higher quality of PESP.

A potential employer

In today’s graduate employment market research has indicated that there are many more applicants than there are jobs available. Consequently, much of the selection and recruitment process is focused on the initial application form and CV submitted by potential candidates. I would argue that it is at this stage that the graduate grade would begin to have a pscychological impact on your potential employer. Consider this scenario. The employer is sitting and browsing through say 25 applications. They discard 10 because these do not have the univeristy educational qualifications required.  Out of the remaining 15, 8 have graduated with a ‘First’,  6 with a 2.1 grade and 1 (you) with a 2.2, although in their applications all have confirmed they have similar skills and competence.Interview Ask yourself what you would do in that position to decide which of the applicants would be invited for an interview. In practice, as from a psycholigical perspective, higher grades are considered to represent a high quality of skills and competences, it is likely that the person with a 2.2 grade graduation certificate will be one of the first to be discarded.


So what has been learnt from this discussion? Perhaps the most important lesson is that, although proofreading, editing, structure and presentation of your coursework will by no means replace your efforts on providing the appropriate quality of coursework quality, we have learnt that PESP can have  positive practical and psychological impact on the grade that you achieve. Thus, these factors remain critical in terms of their impact on you, your tutor/supervisor and potential future employer.

We at Re&d recognise the practical and psycholoical  importance of the fsctors and have designed services arimed at helping students overcome the challenges they present, available at a reasonable cost. For details of how we can help, please send us a message o use the contact form available on our website. Alternatively, you can e-mail us using the following address –, or text us on 0751 796 3712.



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2 Responses to The importance of academic proofreading, editing, structure and presentation (1)

  1. Pingback: The importance of academic proofreading, editing, structure and presentation (1) | Re&d

  2. Pingback: The importance of academic proofreading, editing, structure and presentation (1) | Re&d

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