Academic Paper Rubric For Serious Students

Use this series of checks to revise your academic papers before submitting



•Name, headings, margins are all present and set up correctly.


•Spacing of the paper is set according to instructor guidelines.


•An introduction paragraph is present.


•The paper has a minimum of three body paragraphs that express different ideas within the thesis statement.


•The paper establishes a thesis statement in the paper (most of the time in the introduction paragraph) that states the general area AND specifies a why/how.


•The paper has a conclusion paragraph that pulls together the ideas expressed in earlier portions of the paper.


•Quoted sections of other texts are used to express support for the writer’s ideas, not to serve as the writer’s ideas.


•Before and/or after each quoted passage is used, the writer has included multiple sentences of commentary or discussion that clarify the connection of the passage to the writer’s ideas and extend the writer’s ideas out beyond just translation of that quoted passage.




•Tone is established. Tone is the attitude the piece of writing takes on. Tone can be heard in words that establish the emotional aspects of the text.


•Voice is established. Each writer has a voice and a reader can hear that voice. If the voice is strong, the reader will feel as if the writer is speaking the words of the paper to them while sitting in the same room.


• Energy is appropriate for the type of paper. For example, in a research paper, having high energy and excitement is not likely to be successful. Another perspective is a persuasive paper which definitely should have emotionally-crafted sentences.


•Grammar has been checked and is correct. You should know grammar issues you typically have and specifically check to ensure those errors have not crept into the paper.


•Mega mistakes have been eliminated. Mega mistakes are things like run-on sentences, fragments, nonsense sentences, etc. that end up making the writer sound unprofessional at best.


•Punctuation accuracy has been checked. Typical punctuation areas to check are: comma splices (avoid these); apostrophes in the correct places; possessives; improper use of semicolons; proper punctuation when integrated quoted material.


•Sentence placements are dynamic. When sentences are placed in the right places, the energy of the paper is created and maintained.


•Uniqueness must emerge. Each paper must sound like it has something special and important to say. Too many dull sentences and that uniqueness vanishes.




•Clarity level of thesis. A clear, concise thesis is somewhere between ten and twenty words in length. It establishes an overall area of the focus and then specifies something specific that establishes the why and/or how for that general area. The why/how should be telling the reader why they should care and how that matters.


•Uniqueness of the thesis concept. A thesis must be individual and unique. If it sounds general, straightforward, or boring, it probably isn’t deep enough or focused enough.


•Hooking the reader to the main concept. Getting the reader connected to the main concept begins in the introduction. It includes using words that attract the appropriate type of attention to the thesis. This connection process continues as the paper progresses with transitions inside of sentences and between sentences/among paragraphs so that the reader never loses touch of what is central to the thesis.


•A logical chain of ideas is evident. Once a reader gets into the body section of a paper, they should understand why that paragraph is present in that position because the writer has properly connected them to and from that spot in the paper.


•Cohesion must exist within body paragraphs. Cohesion is how well the words within each paragraph cooperate and work together.


•Coherence exists across the entire paper. Coherence is when all aspects of the paper work together and are seamlessly connected from start to finish of the entire piece.


•Authority level of the author is established. The author must establish the wording in a way that invokes trust between writer and reader.


•Strength of evidence. Evidence should support the ideas of the writer, not serve as the writer’s ideas. Evidence has strength when it has: tight connection to the ideas of the writer in the paragraph it lives in; something to say that directly relates to the thesis; leads the reader outward in more detail on an interesting angle or perspective on the thesis.


This writing checklist was written by James Pearce. If you would like to use this checklist in your classroom or as part of your teaching page on electronic media, please link directly to this page. 

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