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Requirements for All Papers

SUBMITTING YOUR PAPER

Handing it in  The paper may be (a) handed in in class, or (b) submitted by email in a DOCX, DOC, PDF, or RTF format to mark.wilson@lehman.cuny.edu. Note: Your email submission only “counts” if you receive a reply back from me saying I got it. Please do not leave your paper in the bin outside my office door. As stated in the syllabus, any late submissions are marked down 10 points per class meeting.

Optional draft  For any paper you can submit an optional draft no later than two class meetings before the due date. I won’t grade it, but I’ll give you some feedback about how well you’re addressing the topic and thesis of your paper. Your draft should be most of the paper (generally three quarters at least); for the parts you haven’t written, please insert a note in brackets that outlines what you intend to write.

BASIC REQUIREMENTS

Your paper must:

  • Be typed, double-spaced, in 12 pt. Times or Arial, with one-inch margins. Please spell-check and, if you’re not sure about your writing, have a friend read it. I will not mark down for grammar, but clarity is vital.
  • Have a cover page with the title, your name, my name, and the date; and have page numbers on each page after the cover. Here's a link to a DOCX essay template that you may find helpful.
  • Include both (a) citations for all quotations, paraphrases, information, and ideas that come from any source other than your own head, AND (b) a bibliography that lists all the sources you used. See below for more.
  • Run the required length specified in the handout for that paper—full pages mind you—plus the cover page and bibliography.

SOURCES AND CITATIONS

Citations are crucial  All direct quotations, indirect quotations, and ideas from other sources MUST BE footnoted according to a standard citation style, and referring to a bibliography at the end of the paper. This is extremely important and failure to do this will seriously affect your grade. (See the booklet for more on citations and bibliographies.)

Note that providing citations only for direct quotes is NOT sufficient. This is a common mistake and will result in your paper being marked down. You must cite all information, paraphrases and ideas from your sources—anything that is not your own discussion and analysis.

Quality of evidence  The arguments you are making in your paper MUST BE supported by evidence from primary and/or secondary sources—ideally a balanced mix of the two. (The number of required sources depends on the assignment.) You may NOT use tertiary sources for any assignment you hand in to me. Tertiary sources include textbooks, dictionaries, encyclopedias, my lectures, and almost everything on the internet.

I am available anytime, by email or in office hours, to discuss your sources, citations, or any other aspect of your paper. There are also resources about structuring, researching, writing, and footnoting position papers on the Student Resources page of my website.

GENERAL GRADING CRITERIA

Your paper should

  1. Start with an introduction stating the problem and your opinion on it (the thesis statement);
  2. Then give evidence in the main body that supports your thesis statement, ideally in three sections treating three different aspects or issues related to the topic;
  3. Then conclude by summarizing how the evidence supports your opinion.

(See the booklet for more on thesis statements and structuring your paper to support your argument.)

I grade a paper by evaluating how it succeeds in a few key categories. I consider all of the following expected of a college-level position paper.

  • Introduction  The introduction is a paragraph that outlines the issue or question that the paper will address; arouses reader’s interest, fits purpose, and indicates the point of view; lays out the argument to be made in the paper; and leads up to a thesis statement of position that could be disagreed with by an informed reader, rather than a bare factual statement.
  • Organization  The paper is organized in a logical sequence, presenting a succession of ideas in turn that are each in support of the thesis, each section effectively building to develop the thesis in order to convince the reader of the argument being presented.
  • Analysis  The writer uses evidence to demonstrate the thesis; examples and evidence are discussed and analyzed to show the ways that the evidence illustrates the thesis; adequate research and sources are used; analysis predominates in the body of the paper over mere description; and the paper offers, and discusses problems with, an opposing viewpoint (counterarguments to your thesis).
  • Sources  The paper shows good use of primary and secondary sources, with no tertiary sources; the sources used are relevant and appropriate; and the discussion retains independent voice with judicious use of quotes.
  • Conclusion  The paper ends with an appropriate concluding statement; the conclusion effectively closes the paper, tying together all arguments and reinforcing thesis.

Deductions

If you don’t meet the basic requirements of the paper, you’ll be marked down. So make sure you look over the requirements before submitting your paper!

Deductions you can reverse  Some kinds of deductions can be remedied by submitting a revised version of the paper within a week of the graded paper being returned. The paper will not be regraded for content. The reversible deductions are: No cover sheet; no page numbers; no bibliography; some or all citations missing.

Deductions you can’t reverse  I’ll mark you down if the paper is submitted late (10 points per class meeting up to 30 points) or if it does not meet the length requirements (significantly too short or too long). Plagiarized papers will, of course, receive a zero and possible academic disciplinary action. A successive violation will result in failure of the course and academic disciplinary action. Make sure you understand about academic dishonesty; see the syllabus for more.