Thesis and support


  • Clearly articulated thesis
  • Makes a genuine, interesting claim
  • Support from texts clearly relates to the thesis
  • Several specific examples
  • Thesis and support offer an imaginative or surprising perspective on the topic
  • Writer cites sources of support (whether quoted, paraphrased, or in summary reference)


  • Thesis not clearly stated
  • Thesis more a statement of fact or general agreement than an arguable claim
  • Inadequate support
  • Irrelevant or vague support

Argumentation and development


  • Writer “works” the textual support to show how it supports the thesis or a particular point in support of the thesis
  • The support from texts makes new points, rather than simply repeating the same point
  • Paragraphing signals changes in topic or perspective on the topic
  • Points are arranged persuasively (from most obvious to least obvious, chronologically, least important to most important, etc.)


  • Quotations left without analysis or argumentation
  • Some parts of the paper obviously more fully developed than others
  • Argument never presented as complex or susceptible to alternative interpretations
  • No apparent logic to the organization of points
  • Paragraphing happens too often (before points are completed) or too rarely (obscuring the distinction and development of points)



  • Writer has an engaging human voice
  • Writer varies sentence length and structure appropriately
  • Writer uses words accurately and appropriately for an academic context


  • Writer’s human voice doesn’t come through to the reader
  • Most sentences are about the same length and structure
  • Vocabulary may be either inflated, too casual, or imprecise

Control of Standard Edited English

  • Writer makes very few, if any, errors in sentence grammar
  • Writer makes very few, if any, errors in spelling
  • Writer makes very few, if any, errors in punctuation
Willamette University

Writing Center

900 State Street
Salem Oregon 97301 U.S.A.

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