Guidelines on Paper Grading
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Below is the official grading scale used to evaluate your papers for this course. Intermediate grades such as A- and B+ are awarded for papers with a mixture of characteristics. Otherwise excellent papers that fail to answer the assigned question may suffer considerably, as this is an important characteristic for B papers, and even C papers must give at least a partial answer.

  • Everything required for a B paper, plus
  • Thesis is original and interesting.
  • Substantial engagement with key themes of the course as a whole.
  • Use of assigned readings from many different sections of the course.
  • Use of relevant additional sources, particularly from reliable printed sources such as academic books, newspapers, and reviewed articles.
  • Thesis is clearly stated, coherent, and well supported by evidence. (It may lack originality)
  • Writing is clear, effective and well organized. Good use of paragraphs,  and the argument flows smoothly though the paper.
  • Intellectual engagement with at least four different readings from two different weeks of class.
  • The paper is more than just summary of the assigned readings, and makes an intelligent presentation of the readings and ideas most suitable to support its thesis.
  • The paper fully answers the question posed, including all required elements.
  • There are no spelling or grammatical errors. The paper is carefully proofed and meets all mechanics specified.
  •  Every source used is cited fully and correctly. Sources are given for all facts not well known to the general reader.
  •  Few spelling or grammatical errors. Paper meets all or almost all of the mechanical requirements.
  •  Some kind of thesis is presented, but only fitfully reflected in the structure of the paper. Thesis may be unsupported by evidence, or trivial.
  •  Largely accurate reference to some readings, but not necessarily to the most suitable ones or to the most relevant ideas within those readings. Readings will usually reflect a narrower range of ideas than for a B paper.
  •  Little or no substantial intellectual involvement with the issues of the course.
  •  Paper provides at least a partial answer to the assigned question.
  •  Thesis is entirely lacking, incoherent or disconnected from paper.
  •  At least some assigned readings are referenced, but narrowly or with misunderstandings.
  •  Writing may be unclear or badly organized. Often a significant number of grammatical errors. However, it possible to figure out what most sentences are supposed to mean.
  •  Paper has a passing connection to the assigned topic but does not provide a satisfactory answer to the question posed.
  •  Paper fails to satisfy even the requirements for D above.
  •  Any paper more than 5 days late will be assigned an F regardless of quality.
  •  Any plagiarism will result in a grade of F for both the paper and the course as a whole, and submission of a formal report to the appropriate university office.

Page copyright Thomas Haigh -- email    Home: Updated 08/31/2003.