Requirements for All Papers

All written assignments for this course MUST adhere to these requirements—or be subject to a reduced grade. Check for all of the following before submitting any paper.

Before starting on your assignments, I urge you to watch the videos below. They’re very short, and they cover the key requirements with tips on how to make them happen and avoid damage to your grade.

See “Hints for meeting requirements” below. If you are uncertain how to do any of this, ask me before submitting your paper.

Hints for meeting requirements

Formatting musts
  • Watch the Formatting Musts video for more on making sure your essay conforms to requirements.
  • Page counts. Page counts are for full pages not counting the cover page and bibliography. If the requirement is “3-4 pages”, what I am looking for is at least 3 full pages of text, not counting the cover and not counting the bibliography.
  • Use the template. Save the trouble of setting up the cover and page numbers—use the MS Word template file I created. There is also a Google Docs version.
  • BlackBoard notes. You may only submit via BlackBoard. Do not submit written assignments as submission text—they must be file attachments. If you need help with BlackBoard, go to the Lehman IT BlackBoard support page or call the IT helpdesk at (718) 960-1111.
Evidence musts
  • Watch the Evidence Musts video for more on making sure your essay conforms to requirements.
  • You may not use tertiary sources for any assignment. Tertiary sources include textbooks, encyclopedias, study guides, dictionaries, my lectures, YouTube videos, TV documentaries, blogs (even history-themed ones), essay aggregation platforms, and generally almost everything on the internet except online scholarly journals and transcribed primary sources. See the Sources page for more. If you’re not sure, ask me.
  • Citing direct quotes is not enough. This common mistake will lose you points. Paraphrases and ideas must also be cited.
  • Citation styles. You can use Chicago, MLA, or any other citation style. What matters to me is that anything that’s not your analysis must have a footnote or a parenthetical citation that points to an item in your bibliography. See the Elephant Pamphlet for more on citations and bibliographies.
  • The number of sources you need to use varies from assignment to assignment.
Structure musts
  • Watch the Structure Musts video for more on making sure your essay conforms to requirements.
  • See the Elephant Pamphlet for more on how to do all of this, including thesis statements, essay structure, and citations.
  • Optional draft. You can submit an optional draft for any paper, no later than one class meeting before the due date. I won’t grade it, but I’ll give you feedback about how well you’re addressing your topic and thesis. To make sure I see it soonest, please email me your optional draft rather than uploading it to BlackBoard.
  • Grammar. I will not mark down for grammar, but clarity is important. Please spell-check and, if you’re not sure about your writing, have a friend read it.
  • See me for guidance. I am available anytime, by email or in office hours, to discuss any aspect of your paper.

Grading Criteria for Essays

All essays are graded by assessing the following criteria:

  • Introduction (20%) States a topic and problem within the assignmentEnds with a definite thesis statement (a specific opinion that can be disagreed with)Thesis gives insight into the assignment prompt
  • Organization (25%) Main body organized in 3 sections, each addressing a different aspect of the thesis and building support for itEach section is driven by a specific, concrete assertionEach section is self-contained and focused on its topic
  • Analysis (25%) Interpretation dominates over description (why over what)Analysis prefers the specific to the generalAnalysis provides insight on the relevant time and cultureAnalysis supports the section assertions and overall thesisAnalysis provides in-depth answers to questions in prompt
  • Evidence (15%) Evidence used is relevant and well-chosenAssertions are consistently supported by evidenceIndependent voice retained with judicious use of quotes
  • Conclusion (15%) Paper ends with an appropriate concluding paragraphConclusion draws together the arguments made in each section and reinforces the thesisConclusion answers questions from assignment prompt
Grading Deductions

There are two kinds of deductions relating to formatting, citations, and other technical requirements (see above for the requirements for all papers). Some deductions are reversible and can be gotten back by resubmitting the assignment with the issues corrected. Other deductions are not reversible.

Reversible deductions.If you have one of these deductions, you may resubmit your paper with these problems fixed, and I will modify or remove the deductions. Only these deductions can be reversed.

No cover sheet –3
No page numbers –2
Work titles not italicized/capitalized –2
Missing items in bibliography –4
No bibliography –8
Some citations missing –5
Many citations missing –10
All citations missing –30

Nonreversible deductions. These deductions reflect problems inherent to the paper as it was submitted. They cannot be reversed.

Submitted late (1 week) –10
Submitted late (2 weeks) –20
Submitted late (3+ weeks) –30
Too short –10
Fewer sources than required –20
Tertiary sources used –10
Heavy use of tertiary sources –25
Plagiarism –100