Just as when you are applying for a job or working for a
promotion where not everyone can get hired or gets to be Vice
not everyone gets an A in a York course. If you want to do well, decide what you
want to accomplish, check out the competition, consider the amount and quality of
work needed, and work to achieve your goal.
Policy on Grading Schemes defines an A as "Excellent; thorough
knowledge of concepts and/or techniques with a high degree of
skill and/or some elements of originality in satisfying the
requirements of an assignment or course." In a class in the
North American education system where you are graded in comparison with
your peers, not everyone can be
"excellent" so it's just not enough to
submit a paper you "put your heart into" and assume
you will earn an A. At York, a C+ is considered average
work, and a mark of B is not a "bad" grade; it is
Earn the Grade
You earn the mark; I record it. Don't write to tell me what grade you need,
not at any time before, during, or after the course. It conjures
up a terrible image of me sitting at a table with piles of your
papers divided into who has to have an A, who needs a B, who can
get by with a C, and to which poor sucker just because he didn't
write me I can give the only D.
A note about rounding
marks and how it may affect your posted mark. I enter grades as I report them on your papers. Thus,
if you receive a paper back from me with a mark of 6.25/15, your
mark is recorded as 6.25 in the Excel worksheet and I round off
as I go. I do not waste time disputing marks in tenths of a
percent in courses that are much more qualitative than
quantitative. Realize too that I round in accordance with
mathematical rules. A student wrote recently that he deserved a
B because he had a mark of 73.48 which would round to a 74 and
therefore to a 75. Not so.
as you start a class with me that as a Marketing professor I do
not subscribe to the currently popular view of student as customer.
Don’t come to me insisting that as a customer you paid your
tuition money and expect your “A” because it doesn’t work
that way. I am not selling a product and you are not my
customers. I don’t even care for the term client,
although some aspects of it fit.
his article in Journal of Management Education, Jeffrey
J. Bailey makes an argument for students being more like clients
than customers, stating that students can no more argue to have
a grade changed because they are unhappy with it than we can
argue to pay less in taxes because we are unhappy with the
results given us by our accountant. He says, “In [the client]
relationship we see clearly the obligation to a set of standards
quite outside the concerns of the individual client.” (p.
354). Webster’s definitions, however, do not support the use
of either term in a Canadian university classroom. Webster
defines customer as "a
person who buys." It defines buy as "to acquire
the ownership, right, or title to (anything) by paying or
agreeing to pay money," and it defines client as a
person or company in its relationship to a [professional]
engaged to act in its behalf."
By these definitions,
a student is neither customer nor client. You do not acquire
ownership of the body of knowledge taught to you by the
professors of a university. You earn a degree - a title of
Bachelor of Arts or Administrative Studies that says you have
studied such a number of things and passed such number of tests
of that knowledge. You earn certain rights such as to call
yourself an educated person, and privileges such as better
access to jobs, but you cannot buy that knowledge or own it. By
these definitions you are not a client either, in that I am not
engaged to act in your behalf. I act on behalf of the society
that deems it worthwhile enough for people to be educated that
it provides the funding to do so (we could use more but that's
Buying a tube of toothpaste
in a drugstore, you as the customer hand over more money than it
costs to make that tube of toothpaste; that's how the
manufacturer makes a profit. If you don't like how a toothpaste
tastes, the manufacturer will change it so you do. If you don't
like the package, they will change it to suit you. Even if you
don't like the price, they will do something about it. This is
the power of the customer. If you (and enough other customers)
don't like the product, the manufacturer will do everything
possible to ensure you do so you will buy it.
In a university, you do not
have the control that a customer has in a drugstore, first
because you are not buying a product, and second because you are
not paying anywhere near the cost of your education. Your
tuition contributes something, and in increasing amounts
recently, but it is still the government that supplies the
majority of the funding for university education. As professors
we are accountable to the taxpayers of Canada. If the entirety
of a class decided they did not want to take a test or write a
paper, as professionals charged with maintaining the standards
of academic pursuit, professors cannot just say, “Oh, okay;
you don't like tests and papers so we won’t assign any.” Nor
can we support the claim of students who insist that because
they paid their money they deserve the grade they want.
Like a customer in a
drugstore who refuses to buy a tube of toothpaste if it does not
suit, you have the right to refuse to attend a particular class
or university or to go elsewhere. But I have that right with my
doctor, my hospital, the Scarborough Passport Office. I can
refuse treatment or I can find a different doctor or go to
another hospital or obtain service at a different Passport
office or decide I don't want to travel. The ability to refuse to attend or buy does not make one
If pushed to classify a
student in one of the terms of Marketing, I guess I would have
to say “product.” I am the employee of a large organization
whose product is an educated public. When we speak of a woman
who graduated from a university and did well for herself, we
don’t say, “She was a customer of York,” we say,
“She’s the product of a great interdisciplinary education.”
Don't ask me to look over your paper before it's due and "be sure it's okay." Your mark
will tell you if it's "okay."
Do ask me specific
questions. A group in Intro Marketing once wrote me before
the final due date, asking if I would "read their Plan and
be sure it was all okay." I said "No, but send me specific questions and I'll be glad to answer
them." They brought me a sheaf of figures, asked me if
this were the kind of detail I wanted in the budget. That I can
answer; I said no - far too detailed. They showed me their mission
statement and said, "please read it and tell me if you
think it's too wordy." I did. It was. I said so. A
group in a Social Marketing class was often the only group out
of a dozen to stay for the workshop session in the second half
each week; they often showed me things they had written and
asked me questions about it. I did not give them answers that
said, "Yes, this will earn you an A," but rather I
asked them questions that would help them see where they needed
to improve and prodded them to think about what they were really
trying to say. They ended up with a project far better than any
of the others and a grade to match.
Do not ask me to give you more marks
on an assignment or in a course or to let you rewrite an
assignment because I will not do it. By the
time you see posted marks, either for an assignment or for the
course, I already will have thoroughly gone over every mark
given, including those done for me by a marker, and there will
be no point in my doing it again. If you are not happy with the mark I have given
you, you are entitled to ask formally through the Petitions
process for a formal reappraisal; do this either through the
School of Administrative Studies or through your home faculty.
Be aware that reappraised marks can go down as
well as up and that this reappraisal will be done by another
faculty member, not by me as the original marker (just as a judge in the Canadian
court system does not hear the appeal on a case in which she
presided). With our huge class sizes, there is no possible way
that I can arrange marking schemes that also include student
approval of my evaluation of their work, nor can I sit with you
individually and review your paper. I provide feedback on
returned work and/or on the website where marks are posted, and
you should be able to use this to figure out where you can do
better next time. Most final
exams have very few comments on them as they are not returned to
Contact me about marks ONLY if there is a clear outright clerical,
mathematical, or transposition error in your mark and do this immediately
(not later than one week after the return of the test) by email at
email@example.com. Other than this,
my response to all requests to review marks will be a short note that says,
"Read your course kit on reappraisals" which will
refer you to this page.
With respect to issues of whether you received
a mark that you believe is fair given any personal difficulties
you feel may have affected your performance during the term,
this I am not qualified to judge. If you feel you have a reason
for thinking you should be given special consideration, you may
petition for this through the formal petition process, but I am
not qualified to make these judgments so please do not ask me to
do so. If you need more marks to graduate
and are an ADMS student, you may talk to the Associate Chair of the School of
Administrative Studies who as an administrator may have some discretionary power in
this matter which I as a professor do not possess.
you don't believe me yet and are still thinking you will
ask me to raise YOUR mark because you are special, read
You also must consider
the absurdity of my assigning marks and then
arbitrarily raising them as students write to request that I do
so; this is a discretionary power that I choose not to
I get far too many requests the basis of
which is, "I'm special and I need a better grade than the one
I earned and I'd like to write an additional assignment or
rewrite this one to raise
my mark" so let me try to explain something about this
process. In an ideal philosophical world, it sounds like a grand idea to
have each student rewrite each paper continually until it is
perfect and have everyone finish each course with a mark of A.
But that's not how the marking system in North American
educational institutions works. You are graded in comparison with
your peers in a highly competitive course within a highly
competitive Business programme. Let's say the class average on a
piece of work was 68%; you made a 68% but you need a 75%. You write an extra paper
(or rewrite the original) on
which you do very well and your mark moves up to a 75%.
However, in order to maintain a level playing field, I
have to offer to let everyone else write that extra assignment too. About two thirds of the class also writes
a very good additional assignment, and the class average is now
75%. York, like most universities, oversees grade distributions so
our grades won't become meaningless laughingstock to graduate
schools and employers. Since I cannot meet grade distribution
requirements with a class average of 75%, I have to bell the
marks down to an average of
68% where it's supposed to be, and you're back where you started.
can't arbitrarily raise marks
A reputation for
high but meaningless grades spreads faster than
wildfire. Picture it - You are applying
to the coveted MBA programme, they have decided to take you, and just as they are about to stamp
"Accepted" on your application, some sharp-eyed bureaucrat says, "Whoa,
this one's from York, hand me that Reject stamp!"
and you're not accepted into graduate school because they will have
adjusted their scales to account for the fact that they
know our grades to be artificially high.
I don't want to see
York get to that point and neither should you.
A York class of more than 30 students must meet certain standards
| mean not
higher than between 65% and 69%
|median not higher
|not more than 65%
of grades higher than C+
|usually not more than 10% A's
I know that many of you have tales of woe of why
you haven't produced a piece of work worthy of you, but you need
to understand that most students are working under difficult
combinations of work and family life. I cannot fairly give
only you a second chance and not everyone else.
If you have an immediate and clear case for
needing consideration such as a death in the immediate family,
do contact me. But if you have other non-academic reasons for
not having done well in a course, there are avenues of appeal
with committees specially qualified to hear petitions and to
judge where special consideration may be merited on
compassionate grounds. I am not qualified to judge this, and
especially not after the fact. If you contact me early in the
course, I can sometimes do something to ease immediate problems,
but I cannot start handing out extensions in the last week of
class or changing final marks for those who think they can
convince me that they are "worthy" where others are not.
Work and Posted Grades
I rarely accept late work, but if I do
the general policy is that, in fairness to those who submitted work on
time, you cannot earn on a late paper a mark higher than the lowest mark
earned by those who handed it in on time. This applies even for
valid medical/work excuses if results and analysis of the papers/tests have already been posted on
the web or the papers returned and you are submitting the same
I try to post an unofficial list of grades by the last six digits of your
student number, on the web, within 2 weeks of when we last meet. Look for a
clearly marked link on my Home Page, Teaching Page, or your course syllabus; if it's not there, hit
"refresh." If it's not there yet, don't write to ask me when grades
will be posted; my answer is always, "When they're done."
All posted marks are UNOFFICIAL until approved by Faculty
Council, are posted solely as a courtesy to you, and are not open for debate. With the sole exception of clerical errors in which case you should contact me
immediately by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
do NOT ask me for more marks. There are committees you may petition after you
receive your official marks on the transcript to reappraise
your work or consider giving you special consideration if you have been
through a difficult time, and there are places like the
Counselling Centre that you can contact if
you are in distress.
As is the practice in the School of Administrative Studies, I post your marks by the
last six digits of your student number. You should therefore NOT put your
student number on any group work. If for any reason you do not wish
your marks posted, tell me so in an email by the end of the second week of
classes and I will remove you from my
posting list. You then will have to wait to receive your mark in the official
transcripts as I cannot give out marks individually.
No Grades by
email or Telephone
Well for a Better Grade
We are not allowed to respond to email
or telephone requests for grades. I post them on the website.
Students often ask at the END of a course, or AFTER receiving a
paper back, "What
can I do to raise my mark?" The answer is that what you can do is to have worked harder
or better earlier. Start with realizing that two of the most important
things you can do in any assignment are to include the right content in the
right structure and write it well.
Follow Assignment Instructions on Content
If the Course Assignments page tells you to emphasize theory, do it. If it
asks you to include material from a particular source, do it. If it tells you
to include a formal outline and you don't know what one is, find out and do
one. If it tells you
to do research and report on it, do it and do it well enough that the
professor can tell that you have done it. If it tells you
to write a maximum of 3 pages, do it. Don't write 5 pages, don't write 3 1/4 pages,
don't write 3 pages plus one line on an additional 4th page, write
3. (Note that it will usually say, "not more than 3 pages," which
means you may write less than 3 pages; some of us are more concise than others
in our writing and this is a good thing). Regardless of whether it says it or
not, use and apply concepts and specific terminology and theory from the course. Do not
regurgitate texts or lectures but show in your assignment that you
understand and can use facts and theory.
A course that comes highly recommended by students for learning how to
write in a business context is AK/WRIT 3989 Writing in the Workplace. Also
taking Humanities courses which require essay writing will help.
General Comments on Writing:
Write clearly and concisely on exactly the topic you were
asked to write about, and make the topic interesting and attractive to the
Remember Proper Structure in Essay Writing
You can improve your essay writing by writing more
essays, by reading good essays, by paying attention to the details involved in writing
good essays, and
by attending workshops given by the The
Writing Workshop offering help
with essay writing. A good essay must have a good structure. The most basic
rule of writing, especially for an essay, is: tell your readers what
you're going to say, tell them, then tell them what you said
|Give your essay a title. An essay then introduces the topic (Introduction: here's what I am writing about, my position on it
and a brief mention of the sources I will use to back up my position,
and relates to the subject material of the course). The essay then presents Evidence (Body: here's why
my thesis statement is true and here's what backs up my position, in detail, both
in terms of what I have read in the course and what I myself belief from my own
experience). Finally, the essay then sums it all up (Conclusion: here's what I've said and how it links back to my
thesis statement and the sources mentioned in the introduction). Ideally, each paragraph in an essay should follow this
same structure, but that is an ideal to be strived for, not a course
Note that contrary
to more old fashioned rules, the Thesis Statement may be more than one
sentence, and may occur early or late in the Introduction (I personally
prefer it earlier although the Old School used to require it as the last
A student who recently handed in a beautifully written essay
offers this suggestion: write the body of your essay first; only after it
is finished should you write your introduction and conclusion. If the introduction must
tell your reader what you are going to say and the conclusion must tell your reader
what you have said, if you don't write them until AFTER you have written the
body of the paper, it will more likely follow that your introduction and
conclusion will link directly to the paper.
in Gender Issues in Management provided this as learned
from high school:
In highschool I learned the basic paragraph writing
template of : Point, Proof, Comment (and always in that
Point: the topic you're
talking about and what exactly you're trying to say in
together your point and proof.. basically your conclusion
of the paragraph
I used that concept for my essay
outline. For Assignment #1, my "comment" section was where
I tied in the examples from the TV show with how it
related to management.
A hint I can offer from grading lots of essays and reading
a number of good ones. Don't write your essay about writing the essay.
Don't say, "Our group chose the Russian Revolution as a topic of
research because we believe the Russian Revolution was an important period
of history due to the final outcome that saw the destruction of the Tsars as
the ruling class." Just say, "The Russian Revolution was an important period of
history due to the final outcome that saw the destruction of the Tsars as
the ruling class."
In the same vein, don't write an essay by writing about your
experiences in class (or outside class) writing it.
Don't write, "In the beginning, after gathering our media together, it was
evident that similarities existed; however, bringing them together was a
Say instead, "Similarities exist among the media researched."
The one exception here is when you say, "I (or we) will
demonstrate support for this argument using sources X, Y, and Z."
Remember too to match singular and plural with authorship. If you are writing
an essay on your own, use "I." If you are writing it as a group, use "We."
Do not, however, just start a paper with "WE" expecting your audience to
know who is talking.
Realize that there are different writing
styles appropriate to different tasks and adjust
your writing style for different courses and professors and
topics. As I sit here writing this, I am writing as I would
speak to you in a classroom, and although I strive for good
English that you will understand, I am not writing in the
finely tuned and more formal English that I use when submitting a paper
to an academic journal or even in the more formal language I
would use in a memo or letter. When writing assignments for Marketing
teach, imagine you
are writing for a busy bank manager or boss. If you are
not told what voice to write in, it often works well to assume you are a
consultant called in to help a company. When writing assignments for Gender
Issues in Management, which is a writing intensive course, take more care with
the requirements of formal essays and with the inclusion of your own voice.
Good Writing Has Two Sides: dian marino on
and the Epistemological Showdown
An aspect of good writing that you will find in most
courses I teach is the inclusion of your own
voice in the work. One of my mentors at York was dian marino, a professor in the
Faculty of Environmental Studies who so detested hierarchies
that she refused to capitalize her own name. dian died in 1992
of breast cancer and I miss her teaching very much. dian insisted that
although we still need to read and include in our work what experts have written, our own experience and what we feel and believe
just as important and as educational. The
academic tradition in which most of us (dian's and my age) were raised in which we
prove our point by lining up behind us
all the published, (usually) dead, (usually) white (usually) male authors who wrote what we
want to say, dian referred to as "the
epistemological showdown." The statement of our own
beliefs and feelings dian called "i
The epistemological showdown should not be a
difficult concept for anyone who has taken a university course,
or even for anyone who wrote a good research paper in high school. It
is the important part of academic work where you give
recognition to and analyze the effect and importance of the work
of others who wrote before you. The "i" statement is
often more difficult, particularly for business majors into
whose heads it seems to have been drilled that they must always write
in the so-called "objective" third person (there is
no such thing as pure "objectivity" in any study
but that is a matter for a higher level of philosophical
discussion). An "i" statement says how you feel
about something, why it is important to you, why it matters to
you, how it makes you feel and react. The "i"
statement is about what you think and what you feel. It may help
you to first consider what an "i" statement is NOT. You cannot
call something an "i" statement simply because it has
the word "I" in it.
This is NOT an
epistemological showdown statement:
|This is NOT an
epistemological showdown statement:
The Russian Revolution started in 1917.
This is a simple statement of fact,
not something that you would need to quote someone as
Showdown occurs when you cite actual words or ideas put forth by
other scholars to support your viewpoint. You use it to support
something which seems to be generally agreed is true but which
may not seem immediately obvious, or to support one particular
view which is not held by all scholars. An epistemological
showdown statement may be in quotation marks as a word-for-word
citation or it may be a paraphrase of an author's words with the
These are epistemological
|This is an epistemological
Although the Russian Revolution started in 1917,
James Reed, like most authors who write about this
subject, believes that it is too difficult to pinpoint
one year in which the war actually ended. In 1917, there
were still roving bands of troops from both sides
everywhere throughout the countryside (Reed 1922).
[in References: Reed, John (1922) Ten Days That Shook
The World. New York: Penguin Twentieth Century
This is using James Reed to back up
your point, but without quoting him specifically, and
referring the reader to his book.
|This is an epistemological
action meant the end of the Russian revolution as a
positive factor in the world proletarian revolution" (Pannekoek,
[in References: Pannekoek, Anton (1952) "The Politics of
Published in French in
La Révolution Prolétarienne. August-September.]
This is a much more complex statement
about the end of the Russian revolution and how it
affected the entire world proletarian revolution. You
cannot just state it without saying who, in fact, said
it before you, because not everyone would agree with
These are NOT "i"
|This is NOT an "i" statement:
that the Russian Revolution started in 1917.
This is a fact,
not a feeling or belief.
|This is NOT an "i" statement:
I think it is important to cover the six steps that led to the start of
the Russian Revolution.
This is laying out the structure
of your essay, not telling how you feel about the subject.
|This is NOT an "i" statement:
I feel that James Reed was saying that the Russian Revolution took a terrible toll on the working
This is your interpretation of what
someone else said, even though you are not using their exact words in quotation marks.
The "i" statement is about what you
think and what you feel. These ARE "i"
|This is an "i" statement:
I feel that the goals of the Russian revolution, although
admirable, became lost in the violence that overwhelmed the whole of
Others may have expressed this view, but as long as
you believe it and are not copying out someone else's belief and just putting
your name to it, this is an "i" statement, because it
tells how you personally feel about an issue of importance in
|This is an "i" statement:
I believe the Czar should have
been forced to abdicate, because he had been a cruel
tyrant as a ruler of his people.
Again, as long as you are speaking of what
you personally believe, and not what others have documented, it
is an "i" statement.
|This is an "i" statement:
I get angry when I read about the senseless
and indiscriminant slaughter of villages by the battling Red and
White troops; it is one of the great cruelties of war that innocent people are
killed for no reason other than the fact that they were
This is an even better "i" statement;
it tells your reader explicitly how you feel
about something that happened during the Russian
This inclusion of your own voice in your
writing may be
very new to you in university work, especially if you are
Business major, but once you try it, you may
like it. I look for both the epistemological showdown and "i
statements" in any and all work you write in most classes I teach
(although there's not a lot of room for "i" statements in the
Introductory Marketing Plan).
In grading essays, I look
at four main elements, not necessarily in equal weights or this
Content - How much and how accurately did you
write about what you're supposed to be writing
Relevance to course material - How much were
you able to relate what you wrote to the materials
assigned for the course?
Style - How good is your writing in the
formal essay? How well did you express yourself? Is it
easy to read, original, interesting?
Structure - Does your essay have the three
required parts (Introduction, Body, Conclusion) and the
proper structures within each of those?
Students often ask which of these is most important, and my
answer is "all of them." Structure
your essay correctly as if it were worth 100% of your grade so that your
reader knows exactly what you are doing and where you're going. Write
properly and and in a manner that is interesting for the reader and
which implies you have
something worthwhile to say as if your writing
Style were 100% of your mark. Pull together succinctly how
all of this has
Relevance to course
material; if your mark were based 100% on relevance, you would want to
be sure to include as much as possible in a way that was meaningful, not
just a quick listing of books and articles and not just a rambling rant.
And finally, include Content that is
relevant and significant, thinking that if you were graded 100% on
content you would not wish to waste precious space (remember you are
limited to a certain number of pages) on unimportant drivel, or long
passages quoted (or worse - stolen) from other sources. Follow the
rules. Note the required maximum length of the essay and do not write
more than is allowed. you may of course write less if you express
yourself succinctly. If you are asked to double-space, then do so. Do
not write in any font smaller than 11-point and do not use naturally
small fonts like Arial Narrow. Remember also that you are
graded in comparison with your peers; if you do what is asked, you earn
an average mark of C or C+; you have to do it better than most to earn a
B and you have to do it exceptionally well to earn an A.
General Hints On Good Writing
One of the more nebulous qualities about good
writing, something which students often fail to put into a
paper, something I find myself trying to explain when they ask why they got a B+ instead of an A, is passion.
Write anything you write as if it matters more to you than anything in the
world. Best, of course, is to write about what you
love, which is why I write fiction and have moved my academic
research into the field of advertising ethics -- it's where my
A less nebulous quality of
good writing is clarity. I am deeply
impressed by writing that conveys in a few words what it
might take someone else three pages to say. Here are some good,
if slightly tongue-in-cheek hints for good writing. They
are not my own, but I do not have a source to quote.
|The passive voice is to be
avoided. The best business writing is written by people
whose words are portrayed in a straightforward manner
that is viewed as action-oriented.
|Be sure you are not
repeating yourself. Read over a paper to be sure you
don't say the same thing in two different ways or twice
in the same manner. Read sentences over, review them, and check
them as to how they read in order to ensure and
guarantee that you are not just saying the same thing
six times or seven times. It can be very annoying to read sentences
that just repeat themselves and say the same thing again
and again and over and over, and it dilutes your
argument as well as the point you are trying to make.
|Watch out for simple fifth
grade grammar items such as run-on sentences it greatly
hinders your reader's ability to understand you when you
do not put in punctuation a boss would not wish to read
such rambling prose.
|And incomplete sentences.
Writing that does not speak firmly. Because it does not
speak definitively and fully.
|Avoid using particular
words in two particular places close together in the
paper unless doing it for particular emphasis. If the
particularity of the word makes its particular
appearance particularly necessary, find a particular
word that will do that particular job and find other
particular words to substitute for it in other
|Be sure you write clearly
what you or perhaps your group, family, fellow workers
want you, or perhaps them, maybe even us, to say. If you
don't write clearly, even if you write somewhat as if
things were ultimately what we did want to do, and when
you get there, it can be hard to do or to follow. Write
what you mean to say.
Use the elephant you mean
to use. If you write the wrong elephant in a sentence,
people won't know what you're talking about.
Of Grammar (from
an article on the Internet in a similar vein)
1. Verbs has to agree with their subjects.
2. Prepositions are not words to end sentences
3. And don't start a sentence with a conjunction.
4. It is wrong to ever split an infinitive.
5. Avoid clichés like the plague; they're old
6. Always aim at avoiding annoying alliteration.
7. Be more or less specific.
8. Parenthetical remarks (however relevant) are
9. Also, too, never, ever use repetitive
10. No sentence fragments.
11. Contractions aren't helpful and shouldn't be used.
12. Foreign words and phrases are not apropos.
13. Do not be redundant; do not use more words than
necessary; it's highly superfluous.
14. One should never generalize.
15. Comparisons are as bad as clichés.
16. Don't use no double negatives.
17. Avoid ampersands & abbreviations, etc.
18. One-word sentences? Eliminate.
19. Analogies in writing are often like feathers on a snake.
20. The passive voice is to be ignored.
21. Never use a big word when a diminutive one would
22. Kill all exclamation points!!!!
23. Use words incorrectly, irregardless of how often others
24. Understatement is probably not the best way to
propose earth-shattering ideas.
25. Use the apostrophe in it's proper place and omit it
when its not needed.
26. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "I hate
quotations. Tell me what you know."
27. Puns are for children, not groan readers.
28. Go around the barn at high noon to avoid
29. Even if a mixed metaphor sings, it should be
30. Who needs rhetorical questions?
31. Exaggeration is a million times worse than
32. Proofread carefully to see if you any words out.
33. Eliminate commas, that are, not necessary.
Parenthetical words however
should be enclosed in commas.
34. If you've heard it once, you've heard it a thousand
times: resist hyperbole;
not one writer in a million can
use it correctly.
You can improve your grade on an essay by ensuring that you
follow the basic rules of good writing. Grammatical errors can lower
your mark. Watch out for these common mistakes in this collection of writing errors from a grading of papers in Gender Issues
in Management where students were asked to write about how certain terms from
their text were illustrated in the film, Erin Brockovich.
Match Verb Tense in Sentences and in the Paper
as a Whole
|| "Erin was
bright, but she also has a tendency to be
|| "Erin was bright, but
she also had a tendency to be confrontational."
Use Plural Verbs with Plural Nouns and
Singular Verbs with Singular Nouns
|| "The new
lawyers regards Erin as incapable."
||"The new lawyers
regard Erin as incapable."
or, "The new lawyer regards Erin as
Use the Right Word
|| "Erin is from a
Western culture where she is submitted to gender
|| "Erin is from a
Western Culture where she is subjected to gender
Use De-Gendered Language
|| "George was
responsible for maintaining the household and providing the
nurturing a child usually seeks from his mother."
|| "George was
responsible for maintaining the household and providing the
nurturing children usually seek from their mother."
de-genderized language without getting silly about it
|| "Erin figured
that each person could bring his complaint to the
and instead of replacing it with:
||the awkward phrase:
"Erin figured that each person could bring his or her
complaint to the meeting."
|| "Erin figured
that everyone could bring their complaints to the
Use Slang and Colloquial Phrases Only in
Dialogue, Not in Formal Writing
||"Erin was able
to grab a hold of the legal documentation needed."
|| "Erin was able to
obtain the legal documentation needed."
Use Contractions Only in Dialogue, Not in Formal
doesn't, can't, won't"
"is not, does not, cannot, will not"
Properly to Avoid Run-On Sentences
traditional woman's role is housewife, George does
not like this role."
|| "The traditional
woman's role is housewife. George does not like this role."
or "The traditional woman's role is housewife; George does not
like this role."
or "The traditional woman's role is housewife and George does
not like this
Use the Active Voice Rather Than the Passive
assumptions of hers were reassessed."
|| "She reassessed her assumptions."
Start Sentences With Direct Words
|| "And she never
did get to go."
or "But she never did get to go."
|| "She never did
get to go."
Start Sentences Without Apology
|| "Anyway, she
never did get to go."
|| "She never did
get to go."
Use they're their and
|"Her involvement in their
lives seemed a second priority in her life."
|"Erin is there
at the door when the woman finally appears."
|"She realizes they're
going to have to interview more people."
But in formal writing use instead: "She realizes they are
going to have to interview more people."
Even better: "She realizes they will need to interview more people."
|| "As one of Mr.
Massey's employees, other co-workers were quick in criticizing
|| "As one of Mr. Massey's employees, Erin found the
other employees quick to criticize her
participle here is "as one of Mr. Massey's
employees". It refers to Erin, but if you read the first
sentence carefully, you will see that it is erroneously linked
there to "other co-workers" rather than to
Avoid Losing Your Reader
Avoid saying the same thing three
different ways in three different places and then writing, "As
stated above...". Put everything that relates
to one topic in one place; say it once, clearly and concisely, and be
sure that your paper makes it clear exactly where the reader
can find each component: if
the assignment asks you to discuss something in each of five chapters,
make it clear where each of those chapters is covered in the paper.
Less Than C+ in Intro Marketing? You Can Still Do Honours
Students who have earned a grade lower than C+ in Introductory Marketing
sometimes worry that they will not be able to get into
the Marketing Honours Option or take Marketing Honours level courses. This is a misconception
arising from alternative ways of getting into Honours courses.
To take a Marketing Honours course, you need to be or
qualify as an Honours student, regardless
of the mark you made in Introductory Marketing, OR you can
be unqualified for Honours (by choice or by sad circumstances) or have no desire ever to be an Honours student, and
still take Marketing Honours courses by passing Introductory Marketing with a
grade of C+ or better. If you made less than a C+ in Introductory Marketing you
can still qualify for the Marketing Honours option provided your overall grade
average is at the required level for Honours standing as described in the
Calendar. If you are in doubt about this, consult the
Calendar in the course
description for any ADMS4000 course in Marketing.
I Did My Very
Best - Did You?
Students who do poorly in courses frequently write to
professors saying they are shocked at their low mark and wondering how it
could possibly have happened. I reproduce below part of an email I wrote recently to just
such a student. The complaint was, "I was disappointed in what I
got... I don't know how I ended up with that mark... I did my very best."
I am sure you are
"disappointed," but as to not knowing how you "ended up
with that mark" you will have to look to your own performance
during the course. You say you did your very best, but did you?
Did you follow the
recommendations in the course kit about preparing
for tests? You got only
half the multiple choice questions correct; did you read about doing
well on multiple choice
I checked my
records for the Discussion Group and you only posted ONCE about the Waving Hand
Exercises although there were 120 of them and you were told they would form the basis for
test questions. Did you at least work through them and read the
postings of other students?
You did not even try to answer Peter Drucker's first
question; did you do the assignment in the second Learning Unit where you're
asked to go visit a coffee shop and write these answers out? You
totally missed the
question on Hunt's Three Dichotomies Model, yet I
took it directly from an
example of a test question provided in the course
kit; some people missed whether
it was micro or macro, or positive or
normative, but you wrote "Geographic, Politics, and Ethics."
Did you do these practice questions?
back through the work you did to prepare for the test. Re-read
the notes you made while reading your textbook and working through the
units and the Waving Hand and other exercises. Look at what you missed on the test and ask yourself if you
understood it before the test and if not, what you did to ensure you
understood it, knowing it would be on the test.
THEN DECIDE IF YOU CAN HONESTLY SAY YOU DID
YOUR "VERY BEST."