No Witty Fool

Well, I had my first major mess-up as a Grad student.

The final essay for the Research Skills and Methods module was due on April 30th at Noon GMT, which is 7am EST, where I live. My General MO is to submit the essay the night before, just so I have some time to make up for any glitches that may arise. The University of Birmingham uses TurnItIn (a service I have fundamental ethical issues with, but that’s neither here nor there) for paper submission, so I printed the essay to .pdf and uploaded it to TurnItIn. The upload seemed to have gone properly, and I don’t recall if I did the download-and-check procedure that is recommended. The file was there, and I left it at that.

On May 13, I got an email from the Shakespeare Institute saying that the marker for the essay had opened up the file to find a cover page followed by 7 blank pages. They recommended I reupload the file immediately (they sent me the offending file, and it was, indeed, blank) so as to stop the haemorrhaging of marks (5% deduction per working day, so 45%) and then contact the faculty in charge of “extenuating circumstances” to review my options.

Seeing as “computer / technical problems” does not constitute extenuating circumstances, my options are none.

Essentially, I will take a 45 mark hit once the paper is marked (so here’s hoping that I did better than the 65 I got on the first essay – and yes, in my program, 65 is “with merit”) and hopefully that mark combined with my other two marks will drag me over the 50% mark for the module. This essay is worth 50% of the module, with the remaining 50% being divided among the first essay and the online discussion mark.

This was an interesting lesson for me. During my undergrad, I was able to negotiate minor extensions for lateness – in fact, the professor for my last course refused to take my essay on time, sent me and my friend to the pub for a pint and told me to come back after the deadline, just to be consistent. I have quickly come to realise that such leniency just ain’t happening. I begged. I pleaded. I reasoned. All to no avail.

I just now received my marks. As expected, I got 100% on the online posts.

My HUGE current frustration? I got a 73 on the essay. Which is AMAZING – at Birmingham, in post-graduate work, anything over a 70 is considered to be done “with distinction.” WITH DISTINCTION. I am thrilled.

So luckily, this means, assuming my math is correct (and my math is sketchy at best) that I will pass the module… by the skin of my teeth. 50.875 raw mark. But imagine what I could have gotten if I had full marks. No need… I just did the math. I would have gotten 73.

Lesson learned? Always makes sure the damn thing printed properly.

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