Mitigation strategies in examiners’ reports of Mphil theses

2021 IJRSE – Volume 10 Issue 11

Available Online:  28 July 2021


Twumasi, Rita Akele*
University of Cape Coast, Ghana (


The use of outright negative comments may demoralize the spirit of the candidate and even destroy interpersonal relationships. For the purposes of maintaining social relationships, therefore, negative or critical comments are, sometimes, mitigated in the thesis examiners’ reports (TERs). Drawing on Hyland’s (2000) taxonomy of strategies, the study investigated the strategies that examiners employ to mitigate critical comments in 100 theses examiners’ reports written by examiners on MPhil theses. The analysis revealed that critical/negative comments made by examiners in TERs were mitigated through, mainly, the praise and criticism pairs and hedging devices. Also, examiners, sparingly, employed questions, and personal responsibility to mitigate critical comments in TERS. The study has implications for postgraduate pedagogy that teachers and students should situate their couching and writing skills to maintain interpersonal relationships and to avoid potential rejection by interlocutors respectively.

Keywords: examiners’ reports, critical comments, Hyland’s taxonomy, mitigation strategies, Mphil theses



Cite this article:
Twumasi, R. A. (2021). Mitigation strategies in examiners’ reports of Mphil theses. International Journal of Research Studies in Education, 10(11), 15-32.

*Corresponding Author