Skeletal Scale for Evaluating Papers


Reserve this grade for papers that are excellent in thought, organization, and style. The A paper should use a sound organizational strategy, with clearly developed paragraphs proceeding from a unified thesis. The ideas themselves should be engaging and show illuminating insights into the work being studied. Assertions should be supported by textual evidence (not necessarily quotations). There should be very few distracting errors in style, diction, or mechanics.


A B paper will still be quite good, but it can be weaker than an A paper in some areas. It may have good ideas that are marred by some problems of organization and style. Or it may be well-organized and well-written but offer fewer or less valuable insights than an A paper.


This is the grade you will generally give to a paper you would call “clearly acceptable, but not exceptional.” A C paper will show a competent understanding of the assigned topic, but its insights will usually not go beyond the obvious points that most papers make. A C can also be assigned to an inconsistent paper that shows some excellent insights but that fails to tie ideas into a unified whole.


A D paper should have some virtues—either occasionally good ideas marred by unclear writing or clear writing conveying superficial ideas that show a lack of engagement with the work being studied.


Give this grade to a paper weak either because it is poorly written throughout or because its ideas show no insight into the work being studied, or to a completely unacceptable paper obviously written in haste without thought or effort.