Checklist and Rubric
Before you start writing, take a few minutes to review the grading rubric below. It will help you plan your project more effectively and may help you make better decisions about your writing.
|Areas That Need Work
|Evidence of Proficiency
|Areas Beyond Proficient
|Definition of the context for the case
|Use of evidence
|Syntax of argument
|Clarity of argument
|Strength of argument
After composing the first draft of your project, read through and answer the questions below as either Yes or No. Revise until you can confidently answer every question as Yes.
1. Definition of the context for the case
- Are the problems and/or issues that this project seeks to address clearly defined?
Do readers not familiar with your topic have enough information to assess your arguments?
Is the motivation for your topic clearly communicated?
- Is the scope of the problem something that can be adequately addressed in the length of this project?
Have you defined the scope of the issues that you can address?
- Is the problem adequately geographically defined and bounded?
(Geographically bounded would include making sure your analysis takes into account the appropriate jurisdictions for the policy to be implemented. For example, if you are discussing the impact of a proposed policy on CO2 output, keep the analysis confined to the carbon budget of that organization or governing region, i.e. state, municipality, region, etc.)
- Have you provided enough rationale for someone to understand the underlying reasons for various stakeholder perspectives?
- Are the proposed solutions relatively appropriate to the scale of the issues addressed?
- Can you quickly tell someone what this project is about and why it is important?
- Are there extraneous details that are not important to the context?
2. Use of evidence
- Is the evidence from a quality source? (is the source peer reviewed? Is it a primary or well cited secondary source?)
- Is the evidence being used adequately applicable to the case and context?
- Is the evidence properly cited, and is that citation properly referenced in a properly formatted bibliography?
- Is there enough evidence to support your argument?
- Is the evidence the most recent available?
3. Quality of argument(s)
Syntax of arguments:
Do you use any vague pronouns that could be confusing or misleading? (For example, using the pronouns 'this' or 'that' which refers to their subject in a previous sentence?)
Are the subjects and objects of your sentences clearly defined and identifiable?
Are there waste words and filler words that can be eliminated without losing any meaning from your argument? (For example, 'in order to' is often used when dropping the 'in order' does nothing to change your argument, and it eliminates two unnecessary words.
Is there more than one significant thought, argument, point being made per paragraph? If so, you can break into smaller paragraphs. (Bunching up paragraphs may make the number of pages smaller, but it does nothing to change the word count and makes it more difficult to pull out your arguments.)
Do paragraphs flow well from one to the next, and from section to section? (Good flow is observed, for example, when reading along, and you think, "oh, they should have said something about x..." and then, in the next paragraph, you find a discussion about x.
Clarity of arguments:
- Is the rationale for the argument clearly stated? (See syntax above.)
- Is the context of the argument clearly defined? (See context above.)
- Are the terms of the argument clearly defined? (Like writing a recipe or giving directions, can the reader reliably follow the instructions without errors based on what you've written?)
Strength of arguments:
- Does the evidence provided clearly support the argument? (See use of evidence above.)
- Are you staying on topic/target with your evidence and writing? (Does everything written, in some way, support an argument you are making?)
- Are all of the assumptions underlying the argument clearly stated and/or cited?
- Are the possible outcomes clearly and precisely defined?
- Are significant counter-arguments adequately and appropriately taken into account?