26 Feb 2015
There's nothing here warranting
criticism and, in some cases, not even major editorial suggestions; I
perhaps even learned something in reading it.
show a good mastery of the data and have presented a clear argument,
could use some polishing on the finer points.
B+ = very good
B = good
- There is a small-but-crucial flaw in the
logic of the way you've presented your argument (e.g., withholding an
important piece of evidence or statement of assumptions until the end).
on top of the material and haven't made any glaring errors, but your
lacks the brilliance, clarity, and/or thoroughness needed for an
- Or, a number of minor
errors/problems knocked you down
from the A level.
may have stretched your argument beyond the support of your evidence,
- There may be minor problems in
syntax and/or annotation, or
- You seem to be on top of your
material but have not presented it in
a reader-friendly manner.
'so far, so good --
B- = pretty
source reports or quotation IDs:
argument's on solid ground but could use a more explicit focus and/or
support or development. That is, your facts are reasonably
but analysis, while moving in a fruitful direction, could use more
substantiation and/or elaboration;
- You've presented the relevant
data but have not made the
clear; e.g., your narration is solid -- now explain why you've included
this particular narrative here;
- You've included a lot of
material that's "true", but irrelevant to the question asked;
- The question elicits a discussion of
several explanatory factors; you're OK on one/some, but have missed
- There are
errors, or lacunæ in your data/presentation to be
- You've solidly presented your
argument but haven't refuted any
- The chronology may be
(more) supporting evidence from the text itself.
- Confusing, ambiguous, or vague
syntax and/or the
lack of a coherent narrative have muddied the clarity of your argument or the
chronology of your exposition.
- May have more
annotation problems. Even if your content is of "A" quality,
errors in annotation can knock you down to this level.
exams: (mostly) true, but
vague...with one or more of the following problems:
answer, while defensible in its own right, misses the specific
focus of the question asked (for example, in quotation IDs, you get the
overall context but ignore the specific content of the quotation; term
IDs seem to have been memorized from some Wikipedia-like reference);
- You're more or less on target, but
argument needs even more expansion/support;
- There are
errors, or lacunæ in your data and/or your exposition needs more
invoked the appropriate terms/vocabulary without explaining them, or
have not mentioned them at all.
- Irregularities in syntax and/or sentence structure cloud
clarity of your argument.
C+ = OK
- Lack of clarity or focus in your
opening thesis statement;
- Overly broad scope;
- An intellectual approach more
appropriate for a discipline such as public policy, philosophy,
sociology, etc., rather than for history;
- Annotation problems
that are fairly
significant in terms of seriousness and/or
- Over-reliance on academic jargon
which obscures rather than illuminates
- Over-reliance on quoted secondary
which would better have been
paraphrased (but still cited).
obvious that you've done the readings and listened to the lectures, but
you need to reflect more deeply on the material. This could
clearing up a number of errors and/or striking a better balance between
generalizations and detail: i.e., approaching the subject from a
less narrative, more analytical perspective, or providing more specific
data to illustrate your general theme. You may have
invoked the appropriate terms/vocabulary, but seem confused about their underlying meaning. There may
inconsistencies or vagueness in chronology.
(e.g., noting only direct quotations), or not distinguishing between
and direct quotations
C = acceptable,
acceptable, but ...
- You seem to have grasped the
but while your data is reasonably accurate and comes from the same
universe as the question, you've completely missed the main focal
point(s) required by the question;
- Omissions or disturbing errors in
fact,logic, or chronology have undermined your argument;
- While your argument is basically
you've presented virtually no supporting evidence;
- Identification error: the
question asked about "X"; you
mistook "X" for "Y" -- but, if the question had been about "Y", this
would have earned an A.
Major problems undermine your
credibility. These problems might involve:
- more serious annotation issues (inadequate/improper);
- lack of clear chronological context;
- structural weaknesses (e.g., unfocused paragraphs,
- ineffective transitions;
- illogical connections;
- writing at a level of high
generality, which may reflect over-reliance on problematic
or tertiary sources (encyclopedias,
textbooks, non-peer-reviewed websites, class notes, etc.).
greater number of problems and/or a fewer number of good points than
to get a "C".
exams: seriously confusing, vague, or contradictory syntax
papers: passable/plausible as a narrative/description, but
based on a weak bibliography and/or devoid of serious analytical effort.
= barely acceptable
serious errors, omissions, or inconcsistencies heere, or perhaps your
argument got lost in a miasma of vagueness, but the light of
understanding somehow, occasionally, flickers through.
light flickers more dimly at this level. Or, while there's
obviously wrong, your treatment is so vague or shallow that it's hard
say that there's anything right.
D- = passing
grateful that you attend a "Jesuit and Catholic University" where the
and charity are much prized.
matter how brilliant, insightful, or entertaining the content of your
paper may be, it fails to meet the minimum acceptable standards for
source annotation. See the "Stylesheet
for Term Papers" and its related links to the GU Honor Council.
F = not even close—no cigar for
not even enough here to be charitable about, but at least you get some
credit for your effort -- far better than the zero you would have
gotten had you left a blank.
* While many friends and colleagues contributed to,
even inspired, parts of this guide, it remains my own work, applicable
only to those classes I teach. In no way does it represent a
consensus or policy of Georgetown University's Department of History.