Essay Evaluation Criteria

A (80-100) - free of major or frequent grammatical and spelling mistakes
                        - well organized
                        - strong argument
                        - material thoroughly covered
                        - display of original thought
                        - well written
                        - shows an obvious commitment to doing a good job
                        - stands out from other papers

B (70-79) - Most of the points covered in A grade, but not quite as original or well written, does show much promise though

C (60-69) - a competent discussion of major points
- no major grammatical or spelling problems, but writing could use improvement
- displays a decent effort

D (50-59) - displays some effort but,
- organization needs tightening up
- grammatical and spelling problems
- suggests some confusion concerning material

F (0-49) - serious grammatical and/or spelling problems
- comprehension of material not displayed
- little effort made, looks like it was prepared night before

(Modified from an outline provided by Richard Keshen)

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Remember, your job in writing an essay is to clearly show the reader/grader that you understand the material and the topic or question of the essay; that you have put some time into planning what you will say about it; that you can write competently. Always strive for clarity of thought first, rather than going for complex "deep"-sounding sentences and phrases that will only obscure your thought. And honestly ask yourself before you hand in a paper, "If I were given this to read and grade, would I give it a decent mark?" One sure way of getting a bad mark is to hand in something that is written poorly, ungrammatically and full of spelling errors. In order to get a good mark, it is essential to plan out your thesis and/or argument, write a first draft in advance of the deadline, and then improve it by proofreading and editing it.

A Note on Plagiarism. What is plagiarism? Plagiarism occurs when you take the words or the original thought of another person without giving them due credit. It needn’t always be motivated by the intention to steal someone else’s work in order to get a better mark. It can happen if you simply copy out verbatim (word for word) something from a book or encyclopedia article without giving a reference as to where you found these ideas/words.

A convenient form of citing sources is the ‘name, year’ method. For example, if you have just quoted a passage from page 12 of a book by Einstein published in the year 1934, or have referred to some ideas you have found on page 12 of an Einstein book published in 1934, simply include a reference like this: E.g.

According to the special theory of relativity, all inertial motion is relative to the frame of reference of the observer (Einstein, 1934, 12).

 Then include in your bibliography page an entry like so:

Einstein, Albert.1934. The Theory of Relativity. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

For an article your citation can also follow the (name, year) style, e.g. (Maynard Smith, 2000, 178), but in your bibliography it should look like this:

Maynard Smith, John. 2000. "The Concept of Information in Biology," Philosophy of Science, 67(2): 177-194.

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