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Suggestions for Writing Effectively: Below are some guidelines and the criteria which will be used to grade your essays, papers, projects, cases,
etc…. Multiplied by 4, your score on writing assignments (cases, project etc.) will be given out of 100.
It should go without saying that your essay or case analysis should be a model of Standard American English, with correct spelling and
You should edit. The intent of editing is to eliminate redundancy, to make sure that you say what you mean, to refine your language, to
reduce your analysis to its essence. “You can always edit out, but you can’t always edit in.”
State your conclusion, your point of view, your suggestions for action, in the beginning of your analysis, to introduce your observations. In
the body of your essay, you should demonstrate understanding of the key issues. That is that you are able to identify what needs to be
addressed in the case and a range of prospective solutions. You should also demonstrate the process of how you propose to resolve the
issues, how you would make a decision in this section. Finally at the end you should elaborate your conclusion, what justifies your course of
action, your point of view.
You should not rely on anecdotal information or “common” knowledge. Cite your sources using inline citations and an associated reference in the
bibliography or references section.
Score ___
Score ___
Score ___
Excellent (5)
Strong (4)
Marginal (3)
Weak (2)
Unsatisfactory (1)
Central idea is clear,
original and significant.
Consistently clear focus
Central idea is worthy. Thesis
clarity and consistency of focus
in the writing is good.
Central idea is apparent but
vague or trivial, or a worthy idea
receives inconsistent focus.
Central idea is superficially
presented or poorly
Lacks a discernible central
Sophisticated use of
definition, method, and
evidentiary detail. Shows
precision of thought and
breadth of understanding.
Effective use of definition,
method, and evidentiary detail
Shows good thought and
research effort.
Displays knowledge of subject
but inconsistent analytical rigor
or questionable methodical
Displays superficial
knowledge of subject or poor
analytical development.
Fails to develop a
convincing analysis.
Sophisticated selection of
evidence and method.
Writing is consistently,
logical, coherent, and easy
to follow.
Good use of evidence and
method. Writing is generally
orderly and logical throughout.
Organization apparent, but
problems of logic or consistency
undermine clarity and
Weak organizational strategy,
or poor logical consistency
and argumentative coherence.
Incoherent and ineffective
evidentiary development.
Shows substantial research
Shows good research effort and
Shows research effort but
Lacks depth of research or
Lacks supporting evidence,
Score ___
Usage &
Score ___
effort and evidentiary
breadth. Evidence is
relevant and convincing
throughout. Sources are
documented accurately.
evidentiary breadth. Evidence
is generally effective. Sources
are documented accurately.
contains faulty, irrelevant, or
insufficient evidence; or fails to
document sources effectively.
evidentiary sufficiency or
fails to document sources
fairly and correctly.
fails to document sources,
or plagiarizes.
Presents sophisticated
rhetorical appeal that
includes clear and precise
choices of language and
Generally effective in form,
with good use of language and
Passingly clear, but inadequately
attentive to grammar, language,
or syntax.
Contains frequent errors in
syntax and vocabulary that
confuse meaning.
Contains serious syntax and
grammar errors that obscure
These guidelines will help you develop your writing skills and also guide you in evaluating your current proficiency. For professional work in the future, you will need to
write well. In fact, a substantial part of your career development, annual review, and promotion will depend on your ability to write clearly and sharply. You will need to
write good memo’s, short briefing papers, reports, or, perhaps, even lengthy reports
Thanks and inspiration to:
Steffen Schmidt
Professor of Political Science
Iowa State University

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