C.T. Evans
OK, I have an anonymous, sample paper from HIS 101 that can be viewed as a Word, WordPerfect (sometimes this link works; sometimes it doesn't) or an HTML file.  (Clicking on the link will open a new browser window so that you can go back and forth between viewing my comments and viewing the paper.)  This is a rather generalized example of a paper critique process.
  1. The first thing that I check is the general form of the paper.  For example, I look for:
    • Clear paragraphs (introduction, conclusion and analytical)
      • Comment:  This example paper does not have clear paragraphs, although an introduction and conclusion are evident.
    • Margins, font size and paper length correct?
      • Comment:  If you view this paper in WordPerfect or Word, you will find that right and left margins are way too large.
  2. Next I read the introduction  to see if the thesis directly answers the assigned question; and if the paper's points (paragraphs to follow in the paper) are indicated there.
    • Comment:  There is no clear response to the assigned question in this introduction; I also have no idea what points/paragraphs will follow in the paper.
  3. I check to make sure that the introduction meets the writing style rules for the course and that the author has used proper grammar; failure to use the required past tense for verbs is the most frequent problem that I encounter.
    • Comment:  There are many writing problems in this paper (The Gilgamesh was; Civilizations; where).  I also check for writing style and grammatical problems when I read the rest of the paper.  Once I have found a growing number of mistakes, I make a note in my paper comments to the student , and I cease to look for further writing problems.
  4. I look for clear paragraph topic sentences.
    • Comment:  Missing in this sample paper.  I am not sure what the first sentence of the second paragraph is, but it is not a topic sentence.  In addition, you should never include a quote or cited material in a topic sentence; save the quote for your analysis.
  5. I now move to examining the paragraphs for quoted supporting evidence and proper citation of those quotes.
    • Comment:  This paper has a number of quotes, but they all seem to be from page 30.  In addition, you should never quote from the textbook.  I also check to make sure that the quotes used are relevant to the paper and the assignment.
  6. Conclusion present and relevant?
    • Comment:  By the time that I read the conclusion in this paper, I am completely unsure as to what the paper's point is; this conclusion makes no sense to me.  A conclusion should sum up the paper and agree with the introduction.

This page is copyright © 2006-11, C.T. Evans
For information contact