HOW I GRADE A PAPER
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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