Evaluation:  William Lee Jackson

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This section is about what to write.  If you want to know why or how go to the section on learning.  This section is about the how the content of your writing is converted into a final grade.  Grades will always be based upon how well you demonstrate to the instructor that you understand the material.  You will be able to demonstrate your understanding in a variety of ways.  The pages below discuss the general and specific requirements.

 

First some general comments about grades and how they are earned.

Check here for Understanding Grades.

Second there are many kinds of writing assignments.

Some of your favorites are explained here.  Check here for Writing choices.

Check here for a list of the Symbols and marks I use when marking up your drafts.

Finally, some ideas on the Form the paper should take.  Thanks to Dr. Edward M Hanlon at John Jay College.

 

A.  Understanding Grades

 

Grading performance constitutes a complex and difficult process.  While human beings cannot be pigeonholed, they can be judged on the basis of their achievement, not effort alone.  These descriptions attempt to explain why different students obtain different results.

 

The "A" Student -- An Excellent Student

A students have virtually perfect attendance.  Their commitment to the class resembles that of the teacher.  They are prepared for class.  They always read the assignment.  Their attention to detail is such that they occasionally catch the teacher in a mistake.  They show interest in the class and in the subject.  They look up or dig out what they don't understand.  They often ask interesting questions or make thoughtful comments.  They have retentive minds.  They are able to connect past learning with the present.  They bring a background with them to class.  They have winning attitudes.  They have both the determination and the self-discipline necessary for success.  They show initiative.  They do things they have not been told to do. They have something special.  It may be exceptional intelligence and insight.  It may be unusual creativity, organizational skills, commitment -- or a combination thereof.  These gifts are evident to the teacher and to the other students as well.  Their work is a pleasure to grade.

 

The "B" Student -- The Good Student

B students attend class regularly, but occasionally find good reasons not to be there.  They are prepared for class.  They always read the assignment, but not always before the class in which it is due.  They show interest in the class and in the subject.  They ask questions about the things they don't understand.  Their comments are interesting but occasionally not on the mark for the subject under discussion.  They have good attitudes.  They have a good measure of self-discipline.  They do the things, which have been assigned and suggested for improvement.  They have either special gifts, which they do not always discipline themselves to use, or they have exceptional determination and discipline, which allows them to make very good use of their more limited talent.

 

The "C" Student -- An Average or Typical Student

C students miss class frequently.  They put other priorities ahead of academic work.  They prepare their assignments consistently but in a perfunctory manner.  Their work may be sloppy or careless.  At times, it is incomplete or late.  They are not visibly committed to the class.  They participate without enthusiasm.  Their body language often expresses boredom.  They vary enormously in talent.  Some have exceptional ability but show undeniable signs of poor self-management or bad attitudes.  Others are diligent but simply average in academic ability.  They obtain mediocre or inconsistent results on tests.       They have some concept of what is going on but clearly have not mastered the material.

---------------

Source:  John H. Williams, Pepperdine University, "Clarifying Grade Expectations", The Teaching Professor, Volume 7, Number 7, August/September 1993.

 

        A.  Understanding Grades.

        B.  Writing choices.

        C.  Symbols

        D.  Form and Style

        E.  Top

 

Criteria for Evaluating a Class Paper

 

An "A" paper has the following elements:

1.  Good, clear and complete description of the issue.

2.  Clear thesis statement.

3.  Good clear arguments; each argument supported by evidence and/or plausible example.

4.  May offer unique arguments or evidence that others missed.

5.  Paper well-organized with few errors in sentence structure, spelling and mechanics.

6.  Complete and informative reference page.

 

A "B" paper:

1.  An adequate description of the issue.

2.  Thesis statement is clear, but more weakly stated than in "A" paper.

3.  Advances good arguments and tries to supply evidence or example to back up each one.

4.  Generally a good job.  Clearly written with few errors.

5.  Reference page is informative.

 

A "C" paper must have some description of the issue, a thesis, an argument and evidence.

      However, a "C" will have one of the following characteristics:

1.  Incomplete description of the issue.

2.  Failure to address intended audience (assumes the reader knows the issue; reasons or evidence left unstated).

3. Weak or unclear thesis statement.

4.  Arguments are advanced, but they are not clearly stated, often no evidence or example is offered

      in support of one or more of the arguments advanced.

5.  May evince problems with articulation of ideas, transitions, organization, or spelling and mechanics.

 

A "D" paper may have one or more of the following characteristics:

1.  Doesn't describe the issue.

2.  Weakly organized, poor development of ideas, little or no evidence offered in support of arguments made.

3.  Over quotes.

4.  No evidence of having read or used reference source.

5.  Generally sloppy with too many typos, misspelled words and poor articulation.

6.  No reference page.

7.  Inaccurate data.

8.  Data dumping with no argument.

___________________________

Source:  Political Science Teacher, Summer 1989

 

        A.  Understanding Grades.

        B.  Writing choices.

        C.  Symbols

        D.  Form and Style

        E.  Top

     

B.  Writing Choices

 

Commentary

 

A commentary is a written work with a narrow scope specifically related to the general module. It includes material drawn from at least two outside sources. (Wikipedia is good for information but not acceptable as a source here) Your purpose is to demonstrate understanding of one module by completing a 1000 word essay which reports on some aspect of the module in greater detail than the text. It requires you to do outside research on some particular aspect of the module, which is interesting to you. Commentaries must do two things. First, they say something about the specific subject. Second, they must explain how that specific subject is an important piece of the module.

Your commentary must analyze your subject in relation to our module. It must provide additional information on some aspect of the module and it must relate that specific information to the module. Review the module and select one area, which interests you. Research it and write a summary of that research in a well-constructed essay. This means your thesis must demonstrate the relevance of the commentary subject to the class module and guide the construction of the commentary.

Your commentary should begin with a strong introduction, which places your subject within the context of the class subject and the particular module. It is followed with a brief summary of the new information you have developed for the commentary.

The final portion of the commentary is your analysis, which explains what the subject of your commentary contributes to our knowledge of the class subject and the module of the week. It explains the importance and the contribution of your commentary to the broader issues we have been investigating in class. It is the most important part of your commentary and the part, which is hardest to prepare. It is also where you demonstrate your understanding of the subject.

 

Each standard is graded on a five point scale:

 

Is it well-organized (outlined)? 

Does it identify the clear and coherent thesis?

Does it review the appropriate material from the text?

Does it contain an effective brief summary of the new information?

Does it explain how that specific subject is important to the module?

Does it explain how that new information improves our understanding of the module?

Does it have few errors in sentence structure, grammar and spelling?

Does it demonstrate mastery of the module material covered?

Does it have an effective summary?

Are the sources properly cited?

 

        A.  Understanding Grades.

        B.  Writing choices.

        C.  Symbols

        D.  Form and Style

        E.  Top

 

Essays

       

Essays (c. 1000 words) are analytic or interpretative compositions dealing with subjects from a limited point of view. Essays consist of specific essay questions, which I select to allow you to demonstrate your knowledge of one class topic. They give you the opportunity to develop your cognitive skills in the area where they will be most in demand in the real world. That is to analyze a problem or question, reach a conclusion and defend it with appropriate evidence and argument. The questions will be designed to get you to take a position and defend it with reasoned analysis. They are seldom questions with correct answers. Rather they are subjects of debate and decision. The point is to take a view and defend it. My goal is to help you learn to think through the problem and learn to better express your thinking. This is not an opinion but an analysis based upon the evidence.

Your job is to answer the question by analyzing the general knowledge you have acquired and apply it to the defense of your answer with a well-reasoned essay. Essays are not definitive treatments of the subject but your reflected analysis of the assigned readings and any outside readings you may have done. To do that you should first put the problem in its proper context. This is done through an introduction, which relates the specific, question to the topic and shows me that you have some understanding of the topic beyond the narrow scope of the question. Then you should express your view, or reach your decision that is explained in your thesis statement. Now you must defend your thesis with facts and ideas that have been presented in the text, discussions, videos and outside sources. You should be able to make a least four points to defend your thesis if I have done a good job with the question. Simply stating these points is not enough. You must develop each of those points with evidence from the material to show that you understand the material. If you understand the material well this will create a well organized and coherent essay. Finally be sure to cite your sources.

 

Standards

 

Does the essay have a strong introduction? 1 2 3 4 5

Does it present a clear and coherent thesis? 1 2 3 4 5

Is the first point clearly presented, explained, defended and correct? 1 2 3 4 5

Is the second point clearly presented, explained, defended and correct? 1 2 3 4 5

Is the third point clearly presented, explained, defended and correct? 1 2 3 4 5

Is the fourth point clearly presented, explained, defended and correct? 1 2 3 4 5

Does it have few errors in sentence structure, grammar and spelling? 1 2 3 4 5

Does it demonstrate mastery of the material covered? 1 2 3 4 5

Is the essay well organized and coherent? 1 2 3 4 5

Are the sources properly cited? 1 2 3 4 5

 

        A.  Understanding Grades.

        B.  Writing choices.

        C.  Symbols

        D.  Form and Style

        E.  Top

 

Identification

 

Identifications are about the building blocks of history and writing. We try hard to pick out the most important items in the assignment to make sure that you understand them. They are the people, events or ideas which are at the foundation of understanding the reading assignment. We give you ten of them in the assignment and we ask you to indentify the items in sentence form because sentences are the building blocks of writing. Some of you don’t need the practice; some of you do, so we ask you to answer each of the items with a couple of complete sentences to make up a clear simple paragraph.

Identification questions ask you to write a brief paragraph which demonstrates that you understand the importance of the item within the context of our subject. All you need to do is to write a sentence or two which explains who, what, where, when, and why it matters in the context of this module?” No outside research is required, nor will it help. The text covered this point.

E.g. Napoleon Bonaparte - Napoleon was the general who rose rapidly as a brilliant military commander, became ruler of France from 1800 to 1815, instituted widespread reforms in France and almost brought the whole of Europe under his control. He spread the ideas of liberty, equality, fraternity and nationalism throughout Europe, remade the map on the way, and sparked revolutions in Latin America.

 

Standards (five points for each item):

 

    Is the answer is proper sentence form?

    Does the answer say who or what?

    Does the answer say where and when?

    Does the answer explain the historical significance?     

    Does it demonstrate understanding of the material? 

 

        A.  Understanding Grades.

        B.  Writing choices.

        C.  Symbols

        D.  Form and Style

        E.  Top  

 

Outline

 

The topic outline is useful for quick reference. It presents, in logical order, the topics and subtopics that a paper covers. A thesis statement summarizing the central idea of the paper precedes it. It then presents the major points raised in the reading in outline form. The outline consists of headings for the major points developed, subheads for the points developed in support to the major points and sub subheads for the examples and data cited.

Your instructor believes that outlining a very valuable tool in both learning and writing that too few students use effectively. Preparing an outline of the reading helps you to visualize the relationship among ideas and examples used by the author. It helps you to better understand those relationships. It is also a good way of reviewing the material and creates a good study guide. Of equal importance, practice in outlining and summarizing helps a student achieve a firm grasp of organization. This will help the student in preparing outlines for their own papers and essays.

Read the material as you normally do. Then jot down the major themes, which were developed in the reading. Now go back through the reading and prepare an outline as you read through the material again. Make sure that the outline covers the subject that it treats and everything promised in the title. An adequate outline is a kind of process of thinking through the reading. Make sure that the parts of the outline are logically arranged. If the outline is disorganized and ineffective, you have probably missed something important. I seldom assign readings, which are disorganized and ineffective. Doing it correctly you will develop a good understanding of the material. As you outline you should concentrate on the value of the outline as both a tool for learning and a writing tool.

 

Standards

 

Does it identify the clear and coherent thesis? 1 2 3 4 5

Is the assignment completed in the proper form? 1 2 3 4 5

Does it present the major points raised in the reading?  1 2 3 4 5

Are the subheads developed in support to the major points? 1 2 3 4 5

Are sub subheads for the examples and data cited developed? 1 2 3 4 5

Does it have few errors in sentence structure, grammar and spelling? 1 2 3 4 5

Does it demonstrate mastery of the material covered? 1 2 3 4 5

Is it a good way of reviewing the material? 1 2 3 4 5

Are the sources properly cited? 1 2 3 4 5

Is it well written? 1 2 3 4 5

 

        A.  Understanding Grades.

        B.  Writing choices.

        C.  Symbols

        D.  Form and Style

        E.  Top

 

Position Paper

 

A position paper (c. 1000 words) is an analytic or interpretative composition dealing with a subject from a limited point of view. It gives you the opportunity to develop your cognitive skills in the area where they will be most in demand in the real world. That is to analyze a problem or question, reach a conclusion and defend it with appropriate evidence and argument. The question will be designed to get you to take a position and defend it with reasoned analysis. It is seldom a question with correct answers. Rather it is issues of debate and decision. The point is to take a view and defend it. My goal is to help you learn to think through the problem and learn to better express your thinking. This is not an opinion but an analysis based upon the evidence.

 

Your job is to answer the question by analyzing the general knowledge you have acquired and apply it to the defense of your answer with a well-reasoned essay. Essays are not definitive treatments of the subject but your reflective analysis of the assigned readings, your outside readings and our classroom work. To do that you should first put the problem in its proper context. This is done through an introduction, which relates the specific, question to the module and shows me that you have some understanding of the module beyond the narrow scope of the question. Then you should express your view, or reach your decision that is explained in your thesis statement. Now you must defend your thesis with facts and ideas that have been presented in the text, discussions, videos and outside sources. You should be able to make a least four points to defend your thesis. Simply stating these points is not enough. You must develop each of those points with evidence from the reading to show that you understand the material. 

 

Standards

 

Is the assignment completed in the proper form? 1 2 3 4 5

Does it present a clear and coherent thesis? 1 2 3 4 5

Is the first main point explained, defended and correct? 1 2 3 4 5

Is the second main point explained, defended and correct? 1 2 3 4 5

Is the third main point explained, defended and correct? 1 2 3 4 5

Is the fourth main point explained, defended and correct? 1 2 3 4 5

Are important counter-arguments refuted? 1 2 3 4 5

Does it have few errors in sentence structure, grammar and spelling? 1 2 3 4 5

Does it demonstrate mastery of the material covered? 1 2 3 4 5

Are the sources properly cited? 1 2 3 4 5

 

        A.  Understanding Grades.

        B.  Writing choices.

        C.  Symbols

        D.  Form and Style

        E.  Top

 

Presentations

 

There are several reasons why I use student presentations as a teaching/learning tool.

 

First, it often helps break up long class sessions. While I can easily talk for two and a half or even five hours about these interesting modules, students often have trouble listening to me for that length of time. Student presentations give us the opportunity to listen to someone else. Second, it is a good way for the class to review the material. A presentation by fellow students often encourages you to think through the material in a different way than a presentation by the instructor. Third, it is sometimes a good check for me to see what aspects of the material students find most interesting or important. Fourth, student presentations allow you to focus in on those aspects of the module you find most interesting rather than those which I find compelling. Fifth, presentations give you the opportunity to practice and develop different cognitive skills than normal. You are required to organize the presentation and discuss it with your peers in a controlled setting.

Presentations are lessons by students of something in the reading that was of enough interest to merit extra research. Students research the subject from at least two additional sources and prepare a presentation. It must review the appropriate material from the text and present new information. Presentations are scheduled with the instructor by email or using the Wiki. When we reach the appropriate place in the class, I will turn the class over to the student. The student will deliver the presentation in about 30 minutes with time for questions. They may use power point, lecture notes and outlines, discussion (Socratic or otherwise), handouts or outlines for the class or even where appropriate a game format.

 

Standards

 

Does it identify the clear and coherent thesis? 1 2 3 4 5

Is it well-organized (outlined)? 1 2 3 4 5

Does it review appropriate material from the text? 1 2 3 4 5

Does it present new information on the module? 1 2 3 4 5

Did the presenter attempt to convey knowledge? 1 2 3 4 5

Does it demonstrate its relevance to the module? 1 2 3 4 5

Did it stimulate questions and discussion? 1 2 3 4 5

Was the material explained rather than read?  1 2 3 4 5

Does it demonstrate mastery of the material covered? 1 2 3 4 5

Are the sources properly cited? 1 2 3 4 5

 

        A.  Understanding Grades.

        B.  Writing choices.

        C.  Symbols

        D.  Form and Style

        E.  Top

 

Précis

 

 A précis is a 1000 word essay appreciation of an academic article. It explains what that one article contributes to our understanding of the module and in so doing demonstrates that you understand both the article and the module. Your purpose here is:

         1. To broaden your understanding of the module.

         2. To develop familiarity with the process of academic research.

         3. To improve your understanding of how good academic writing is organized and presented.

        4. To improve your ability to read and understand academic material

Only articles from academic journals can be reviewed. Academic journals are those thick ones with long articles with lots of footnotes. They are not Time, Newsweek or even Atlantic Monthly. If you have any doubt about the journal clear it with me before you begin. The upper right hand corner of the moodle pages provides you with links to guides and assistance in finding appropriate sources.

The précis should be written like a commentary, but discusses a single source in more depth. It too should begin with a strong introduction and clear thesis. In this case your thesis is ideally a one sentence statement of the findings of the work. It is followed by a number of paragraphs which develop and support that evaluation. You should summarize the main points of the article and demonstrate that you understand both the article and the module. The précis should end with a substantial conclusion which explains what the work adds to our understanding of the module. Thus it is more than a book report and less than a term paper.

 

Each standard is graded on a five point scale:

Is it well-organized (outlined)?

Does it identify the clear and coherent thesis?

Does it review the appropriate material from the text?

Is the article from an appropriate academic journal?

Does it demonstrate a good understanding of the article?

Does it explain what the article teaches us about the module?

Does it have few errors in sentence structure, grammar and spelling?

Does it demonstrate mastery of the module material?

Are the sources properly cited?

Is it well written?

 

        A.  Understanding Grades.

        B.  Writing choices.

        C.  Symbols

        D.  Form and Style

        E.  Top

 

Takehome
 

The purpose of the take home is to give you the opportunity to demonstrate your understanding of the material covered in the topic. It is designed to test your understanding of the reading assigned. It is also designed to help you develop your writing skills. It is not designed to test your ability to do rapid internet research. It consists of two elements: identification and essay. Each has a specific goal in helping you improve your cognitive skills.

 

For the identification element you should select the five most important people, events, or ideas presented in the readings. You should also answer them in a sentence or two which identifies them (who, what, where, when) and explains the significance. Identification questions ask you to write a short paragraph which demonstrates that you understand the importance of the item within the context of the module. No outside research is required, nor will it help. The text covered this point. The question is “Do you know who, what, where, when, and why it matters in the context of this topic?”

 

For the essay element, you should create an essay question and write an answer which demonstrates your understanding of the topic. Essays are narrow in focus and primarily ask you to briefly explain something that was more thoroughly covered in the reading or class. They are about 750 words and require neither elaborate development nor research. Your job is simply to answer the question directly and accurately in your own words. Doing so effectively demonstrates that you understand the basic facts involved. They are designed to test your understanding of the material by requiring you to demonstrate it by writing and effective description. Below are the standards by which it will be graded.

 

Standards

 

Identification One: who, what, where, when and historical significance?

Identification Two: who, what, where, when and historical significance?

Identification Three: who, what, where, when and historical significance?

Identification Four: who, what, where, when and historical significance?

Identification Five: who, what, where, when and historical significance? 

Is the essay answer supported by adequate evidence? 

Does the essay have a clear and coherent thesis?

Does the essay support that thesis with clear arguments? 

Are those arguments supported by evidence and/or plausible example?  

Is the assignment written in proper sentence, grammar and spelling?

        A.  Understanding Grades.

        B.  Writing choices.

        C.  Symbols

        D.  Form and Style

        E.  Top

 

Treatise

 

A treatise is a synthetic composition covering the module under discussion. It demonstrates your understanding of one module by completing an essay of 1000 words, which summarizes the required material effectively. It is your written answer to the question "What is the major theme of this module?"  The treatise is your reflected blending of the assigned readings and our classroom work. It presents them in a well-organized manner, which clearly reflects your understanding and analysis of the material. You must organize and present the material in your own words to demonstrate that you truly understand.

 The treatise is not a summary of everything that you have learned about the module. Rather it is a well-written and defended analysis of what you find to be the major theme of the module. Your first challenge is to think through the material and define its major theme. This then becomes the thesis of your treatise. This is not always an easy task, but it is what makes the treatise a valuable learning tool. Since it is the major theme, it must touch on most of the material, but it need not explain everything.

 Then you must isolate at least four important points, which support your thesis. These points should be balanced throughout the material so that you can demonstrate the breadth of your understanding of the module when you explain them. Even with careful selection of your points, there will be important portions of the material, which do not fit. You can of course ignore them or you can prepare an excellent introduction, which briefly puts those elements in place. Such an introduction is more than just a way to start the treatise and takes more time but it is always worth the effort. Be sure to develop each of your points so that they support your thesis and show me that you understand them.

 

Each standard is graded on a five point scale:

 

Does the introduction effectively demonstrate a broad understanding of the module?

Does the treatise present a clear and coherent thesis?

Is the first argument in support clear?

Is it supported by evidence and/or plausible example?

Is the second argument clear?

Is it supported by evidence and/or plausible example?

Is the third argument clear?

Is it supported by evidence and/or plausible example?

Is the fourth argument clear?

Is it supported by evidence and/or plausible example?

 

        A.  Understanding Grades.

        B.  Writing choices.

        C.  Symbols

        D.  Form and Style

        E.  Top

 

C.  Symbols

 

The following symbols will be used to mark your drafts:

 

  A =  This pronoun does not have a clear antecedent,

                   number is wrong or the reference is vague.

  D = Direct and active sentences are much easier

            to understand than passive and indirect ones.

  N = The number of your nouns and verbs do not

         agree with one another, one is plural and the

        other is singular.

         P =  You meant this to be possessive but did not

                    spell it right or you made it possessive when

                    you should not have done.

  R =  Redundancy - you just said that, do not say it

            again.  Once is enough.

  S =  Spelling, you spelled this incorrectly or spelled

            the wrong word.

  U = Too many unclear pronouns in this sentence.

  II = Things listed in a series must take the same

            form.

  W. C. = This isn’t exactly wrong but I think there

            is a better "word choice” to say what you

            mean.

  NAS = This pretends to be, but is not a sentence.

                   It has no subject or it has no action.

 


          A.  Understanding Grades.

        B.  Writing choices.

        C.  Symbols

        D.  Form and Style

        E.  Top

 

D.  Form and Style

 

    Dr. Edward M Hanlon at the John Jay link in my resources section has a History Stylesheet from which I borrowed much of what follows which is much complete and highly recommended.

Paper writing has its own conventions.  The style historians use is that outlined in Kate L. Turabian, A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations, 6th ed. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996).  Others use the APA style.  Either is acceptable.

 

        Plagiarism will not be tolerated.

                 Plagiarism is the act of using the words and ideas of

                others without giving proper credit.  Common varieties

                of plagiarism include:  a.  having another individual

                write a paper or take an examination for a student;

                b.  directly quoting material without using quotations

                marks or proper indentation;  c.  not giving credit for

                another person's original ideas and organization.

                Plagiarism and cheating are considered unethical

                actions and a violation of academic policy.  (SMC p.29)

 

Sources must be listed and appropriate credit given.

I prefer parenthetical citations and sources consulted.

 

I will gladly review your drafts.  I will not proofread them.  When it

becomes obvious that you have not "proofed" the paper I will stop

making "English" corrections.

Drafts are double spaced with a right hand margin of at least two inches

so that I have room to comment.  They will be reviewed and

returned (usually by the next class session) for both content and

"English".  Papers are graded upon how well they demonstrate an

understanding of the material.  Correcting the "English" errors will

not improve your grade.

 

Typing and Presentation:

 

Papers must be typed, single-spaced (.doc, .docx or .rtf).

Papers are written in paragraphs with no gap between paragraphs.

The first line of each paragraph should be indented five spaces.

Long quotations should be single spaced and indented.

All pages should be numbered.

Use one inch margins all around. Use 14 pt. type.

Do not use right-hand justification as it leads to oddly spaced words.

Include the following on the upper corner of the front page:

        Your name

        The course name and number

        The assignment this paper is to complete

        The date the paper was due

        The title of the paper.

Spell check and proof read before submission.

Email the assignment as an attachment to wjackson@stmartin.edu.

I do not grade papers without proper citation.

 

Good grammar is expected.

 

    Those new to writing papers should pay special attention to the following, lack of attention to which represents 90% of grammatical and stylistic errors seen in student papers:

Spelling should follow the generally accepted conventions. If you do not have one, buy a good dictionary.

Use the correct tense.  In general refer to actions people did in the past in the past tense (examples: "Napoleon won the Battle of Austerlitz", and "Voltaire wrote Candide"). Refer to quotations from authors in the present tense, even if the author you are referring to is a historical person (examples: "E.P. Thompson [a modern writer] says that the English working class evolved only in the 19th century," and also "Voltaire [an 18th Century author] suggests the Church of his time was corrupt.") In the last case note that you use the present tense for what Voltaire says/writes/suggests but the past tense for his description of a state of affairs in the past.

Apostrophes are not used in the plurals of words (example: "telephones." not "telephone's.") Apostrophes are used to indicate possession of one thing by another (example "the man's hat.") If the word that possesses is already plural the apostrophe goes after the "s" that was added to make the word plural (for instance, "The Students' Association" means the association belonging to many students, but "the student's association" would mean some association pertaining to one particular student.)

"Its" = indication of possession, like "his" or "her."  e.g. "the book's cover" = "its cover."

"It's"= contraction for "it is."

Capitalize:

    The first word in a sentence.

    Proper nouns (i.e. names).

    Words such as "King," "President," only when referring to a particular person.

    Words in titles, but not non-initial conjunctions, prepositions, or articles.

Conditional Verbs I

"He would have been elected," not "He would of been elected."

"She could have done it," not "She could of done it."

Conditional Verbs II

It has been very common to use phrases such as "If he would have helped her, she would now be safe," but this is grammatical nonsense and does not do what it intends, which is to make a conditional statement about the past. Literally the phrase as it stands means "If he had wanted to help her, she would now be safe." The phrase should be "If he had helped her, she would now be safe."

Split Infinitives

The infinitive of a verb is that part which expresses the meaning alone, for example, "to go," "to sing," "to be."  It has long been considered bad style in English to "split infinitives" with adverbs.  Instead of writing "to quickly go," or "to finally sing," you should write "to go quickly," or "finally to sing."

Use of First Person Pronouns

When writing formal papers only use "I" and "me" when it becomes confusing to avoid them. A term paper is not meant to "sound" like a letter to a friend or a diary entry.

"Feel" and "Believe"

These words are massively overused by students. Your feelings are not relevant to a paper, it is your thoughts that count. When writing about historical figures, you only know what they "felt" if they left diaries or told someone else their feelings. Unless you can cite such information, do not state that a historical figure "felt" something. Also do not use "felt" when you mean "thought." These comments apply to "believe" in a less stringent manner.

"Being that"

"Being that he was King of France, ...." is better stated  "Since he was..,." or "Because he was...," or "When he was..."

Words to Avoid

"Incredible," "Unbelievable," "Literally," "People," "They." Always check that these words really mean something when you use them.

Passive Constructions

It is bad style to use passive constructions, or more concretely, passive constructions lead to bad style.

Here are some examples:-

"The King was lynched."
"The White House had been burned down."

All these sentences would be stronger and more informative if the person doing the lynching/burning/discovering was put in the picture.

"The Parisian mob lynched the King."
"The British burned down the White House."

 

        A.  Understanding Grades.

        B.  Writing choices.

        C.  Symbols

        D.  Form and Style

        E.  Top

 

Citations and Notes

      You must indicate from where you are making any quotations you use in your paper. It is also important to cite the source of arguments and ideas when you take them from a textbook or other author. The way to do this is in citations footnotes (at the bottom of the page) or endnotes (at then end of the paper) or, although it is not yet the standard in History, I much prefer the parenthetical references system explained below.

        Avoid quotations and paraphrases of the modern authors you consult. Sources from the period you are writing about may be quoted, but do this sparingly. It is YOUR words and thoughts that are required, and on which you will be graded.

        My preferred system of citation is the parenthetical references system used in some fields of academic study. It is not used in history, but you may wish to investigate it for other classes. APA Style.  When using a direct quote, write the author and date in parentheses, following the quote: (Author's last name, page number) Example: According to Christopher Haigh, "Henry VIII died a Catholic, though rather a bad Catholic" (Haigh, 1984, 207).  (Note: you will write out the book in full at the end of the paper, in your "References," or bibliography, section).  

        If you do not directly quote, but you mention the author's name, follow the name with a date (of the book's publication) in parentheses.  Example: Susan Reynolds (1994) would like to dispel with the idea of feudalism altogether.

        If you do not quote from the authors or mention their names in the sentence, and if you still borrow their arguments or ideas, cite their names and the dates of their works in parentheses at the end.  Example: Atheism was unknown to Europe in the sixteenth century (Febvre, 1982).

        If you insist or you computer is set up to footnote.  Go ahead.  Notes should be indicated in the text by superscipted numbers, like this - 1. If your equipment cannot superscript, enclose footnote numbers in brackets like this - [1]. Notes should be numbered consecutively from the beginning to the end of the paper rather than being separately numbered on each page. Footnotes should be single spaced. Leave a line between each footnote. The first line of a footnote should be indented five spaces.

The first mention of a source in the footnote or endnote should contain the following information in the order given here:- Author, Title, Publisher, Date

        Note especially the use of punctuation in these references. Note also that the place of publication is always a city, never a state or country. If the place of publication is not one of the major publishing centers [i.e., New York, London, Boston, Paris, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago], indicate the city and the state. Finally with publishers names do not include words such as "Limited," "Inc." or "Publishing Company.".   Later references to the same author can just give his or her last name and the page number. Do not use "p" or "pg".  Do not use Latin reference abbreviations such as ibid., idem, or op.cit. They are unclear today and look old-fashioned. Your aim is to present information as clearly as possible.

  

Bibliography

        For a college paper your bibliography or booklist should list all the books and articles you have consulted in writing your paper. It should contain the same information as your first citation in a footnote but in a slightly different order. For example:-

 

Single-author book:

Alverez, A. (1970). The Savage God: A Study of Suicide. New York: Random House.

 

More than one author:

Hesen, J., Carpenter, K., Moriber, H., & Milsop, A. (1983). Computers in the Business World. Hartford, CT: Capital Press.

 

An anthology or edited volume:

Schmoe, Joseph (Ed.). (1987). The History of It All: Historians on History. Chicago:  Goingbroke Press.

 

An article from a journal:  (Note: Do not use abbreviations "p." or "pp." )

Maddux, K. (1997, March). "True Stories of the Internet Patrol." NetGuide Magazine, 88-92.

 

Online article

"Monetary Regulations of the Carolingians, 750-817." Retrieved November 18, 2000 from the World Wide Web: http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/source/750caroling-  money.html.

 

In a list of books the last name goes first. The books are listed alphabetically in order of the authors' last names. Books without an author are listed by the first word, excluding "the" and "a" in the title: Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary would go under "W". It looks better if you indent from the second line of each entry (a hanging indent). For more information see the pages in Webster's already mentioned.

Again thanks to Dr. Edward M Hanlon at John Jay College.