Critique Sheet for Research Papers
This is a document you can use as a `check list' to see whether your
research paper meets requirements I outlined in the longer Checklist.
Statement of Purpose: the Hypothesis you want to test.
- This paper has one, stated clearly and succinctly, near the
- It has one, but it's sort of vague, or hesitant.
- I can sort of guess what it is, but I shouldn't have to.
- Hypothesis currently unclear.
Review of Literature
- Your paper has one, located somewhere near the beginning of the
- Your paper currently lacks one.
- Your paper has a vague or poorly-defined
review, or it is located in an inconvenient place, or is
spread out all over the place.
- You review some of the literature, but don't link it to what your
project is about.
- This paper makes smooth transitions.
- There are a few places where transitions should be smoother,
(marked in the paper). You might want to use "connecting words" such as
moreover, however, nevertheless, thus, hence, etc.
- Transitions in this paper are jerky; they give the impression that
paragraphs have been moved around or inserted without regard for how
they fit with what precedes them and what follows them.
- Transitions would be helped by demarcating certain sections with
subheadings, e.g. Statement of Purpose, Review of Literature
, etc. (See below, format).
- You use a format that cites a minimum of information, e.g.
Authorname, date (year), and page numbers, but fills the bill.
- Currently, there are very few citations or indications of sources.
- Your citations are overly complete in the text, giving us
information that is best left for the bibliography.
- Citations are inadequate, in that one of the following is missing:
authors, but no year; or author and year
but no page numbers.
- Your paper tends to rely rather heavily on one author/one source
only. This makes it in effect a review of that work, and should be
explicitly stated to be such.
- Your paper seems to ignore sources that are in fact crucial to your
topic. (See below for suggestions).
- Your paper seems to use only
sources found on the Internet or using "on-line" library catalogues,
ignoring print resources published before 1968.
- The way your paper deals with things that are common knowledge could
- The fact that something is common knowledge does not need to be
cited, but it does need to be made clear that you think it is
common knowledge, and therefore does not
need to be proven. (See full checklist for a way you can state this.)
- Or, your paper tends to accept/portray as common knowledge things
that are not necessarily so accepted.
- Your paper mentions sources in the text that are not spelled out in
- Your paper accepts [one or more] source(s) uncritically.
- You have chosen a not very credible source ( `straw man')
against which you are forcefully arguing.
- Your paper ignores the work of:____________________________
Style and Format.
Occasionally I have marked areas where what we call style is
- Spelling problems are marked in margins etc. with "sp" or with a
proposed better one.
- Stylistic problems are given alternative suggestions. (sometimes marked
in margin "awk" for awkward.)
- Some sentences run on complete thoughts are connected by
commas rather than semicolons, or periods; or, a main verb is missing,
with phrases connected somewhat randomly, but no conclusion to the
- If some words or phrases are repeated or overused, the mark
repet for `repetitious' may appear in the margin.
- If the symbol ¶ appears, it means "start a new paragraph".
- If something is really unclear I have marked it with "?" or "uncl".
- Occasionally, it might help things if you used subheadings to clearly
demarcate sections of the paper: Statement of Purpose, Review of the
Literature, Methodology, Conclusions, or other headings might make
Content and Argument Structure.
Reminder: the content portion of the paper is the main part. If
your form is okay, then your content section will be able to concentrate
on convincing the reader of your position. If other things are not clear,
it will be hard to see what it is you are trying to do.
- Your paper shows evidence of your having thought about such
issues as gender, class, race, sexuality, glamor and other issues, or
metaphors for these issues, that we have focussed
on in class.
- Your paper vaguely touches on these issues, but doesn't give them
much weight, wandering off into other topics but missing the main point.
- Your paper shows very little evidence of your having
benefited from anything we discussed in class, or read for class.
- You make unwarranted conclusions or give inadequate evidence for your
conclusions at one or more points in the text; (see marginal comments).
Summary and Conclusion
- Your conclusion is clear and obvious, and related to your Statement
of Purpose, i.e. it tells us that you have done what you set out to do.
- Your conclusion is there, but needs to be more explicitly or
- At the moment, I can't detect an obvious conclusion in your paper.
- Your conclusion claims more than has in fact been demonstrated.
(One way to fix this is to change what you claim to be your
statement of purpose at the beginning, rather than change the ending.)
- Your conclusion is vague, hesitant, flounders around and misses a
number of obvious points, or is weak and obviously hastily constructed.
What I like best about your paper is: