Grading Criteria for Papers
last update 29 July 2006

(1) Content

This includes the choice of an important thesis, the degree to which you include material relevant to the defense of your interpretation, your ability to foresee objections to your interpretation and to rebut them, and the amount of irrelevant material which must be weeded out of your discussion (as mentioned above, this last factor counts negatively).

(2) Accuracy

It is extremely important to gain an accurate understanding of the text. Be careful to read statements in context. If you seem to find a contradiction in the text, it is quite possible that you have not followed the author's logic or argumentative process. Try again and see if there is a way to resolve this apparent contradiction. (In other words, the contradictions in texts often arise because we bring a certain understanding to the text, rather than gaining our understanding from it.)

(3) Organization

Papers generally are composed of three sections: the introduction, the body, and the conclusion. Know what you want to say before you write the paper, and strip off anything which is not essential to making your point. To accomplish this, it often is helpful to write an outline before you write the paper; and it is absolutely essential to edit and re-write the paper after you have stripped the chaff from the first draft.

(4) Originality

An original thesis, or a thesis defended in an original way, is sure to be rewarded.

(5) Quality

The paper must exhibit inclusive language and correct grammar, punctuation, spelling, syntax, and typography. (Proof-reading is essential to ensuring the absence of such errors.) The format of the paper and of notes must conform to the accepted standards for a research paper. An excessive amount of difficulty in any of these areas will adversely affect the evaluation. A typical exegetical or research essay would cite at least 6-7 secondary PRINT sources. See here for grading protocols.

(6) Punctuality

Papers must be submitted on time to receive full credit toward a grade.