Professor Gary Jason, PhD | Contemporary Moral Issues Resource Center | Part 4

Contemporary Moral Issues Resource Center | Part 4

Part 4: Term Papers–Rubric

I. The purpose of term papers:

  • I have several central goals in assigning term papers:
  • First: I want to help you develop your skill at writing critical essays–meaning, your ability to write papers in which you critically evaluate an issue;
  • By “critically evaluate” I mean using proper logical argumentation based upon facts, as opposed to illogical sophistry based upon mere emotion,
  • Second: I want you to wrestle with a basic issue in contemporary life–one of your choosing–using a tool most of you have never met: ethical theory.
  • Third: It gives me a chance to see how well you research and integrate material not generally covered in lectures (which is what the exams are based upon). Often, when I am considering elevating someone’s course grade, the term paper grade is the key factor I look at.

II. How term papers are graded:

  • If the paper is not turned in though Turnitin, it will not be graded and will be recorded as a zero. Why? Because I only want your work, not others.
  • You need to attach a Turnitin class homepage report showing both your name and a zero duplication score. that is the proof that you did not copy other peoples’ words.
  • Your pages should be numbered;
  • Your paper should be 5-10 pages double spaced, not counting the title page and the works cited page.
  • Any paper short of the minimum will have points deducted—5 points per each quarter-page.
  • You should consult at least four sources, 2 pro, 2 con…..
  • You don’t have to choose a term paper topic from my list, but if you come up with your own topic, I need to approve it.
  • The next page on this site lists 125 different term papers topics, along with links to videos with debates–so that you can quickly see the main arguments on both sides of the issues.
  • Turn on the spell and grammar checkers on your word processing program.
  • Try to write direct, easy to comprehend, and well-structured prose.
  • Clearly demarcate paragraphs by indentation (fives spaces or tab once).
  • Avoid words you don’t really understand. Don’t try to impress me with big words.
  • Avoid run-on sentences, i.e., keep sentences of short to medium length.
  • Remember to use and
  • Read your paper aloud to a friend or family member, or have them read it–if they can’t follow it, probably I can’t, either;

III. Below is a table of mistakes and points liable to be lost for them:

             Problem      Points Deducted
Unapproved topic         -20 to -60 (if you pick a topic upon which I have lectured, or was the topic of a prior short paper, or if it is not relevant to applied ethics).
Disorganized         -5 to -15
Lack of citations         -5 to -10
No separate title page         -5
No separate works cited page/bibliography         -5
No research/literature search         -25 minimum
Only one source (Desjardins or Bastiat, say)         -5 to -15 (depending upon your ideas)
Tendentious/one-sided         -10 to -20
Style/grammar/spelling         -5 to -15
No quote marks (if Turnitin shows passage borrowed)         -10 for every case

***If NOT cited, it is plagiarism

Excessive unnecessary quotation         -5 to -15
Any of the five major fallacies discussed in the tutorial         -5 to -15
No Turnitin check          Not accepted (recorded as zero)
Short of minimum          -5 for every quarter page


  • Below is a table of comment codes and what they mean:
             Mark/word     What it means
 A checkmark ( √ ) Good point/argument
 An “X” Irrelevant/silly/patently false claim/argument
 A “T” followed by a checkmark at top of paper No plagiarism detected by Turnitin
“awk” (akward) Your sentence is awkwardly phrased (try reading it aloud)
“uncl” Your sentence or paragraph is unclear
“word” Wrong word to use in that context (look it up)
“sp” Spelling wrong
“gr” (grammar) Ungrammatical sentence
“run-on” Run-on sentence
question mark Statement is dubious, strange, contradictory, or out of place with the rest of the passage
“frag” Sentence fragment.
“means?” What does this term/phrase/sentence mean?
“circ” (circular) Question-begging language or argument
“straw”(strawman) Distorting someone’s argument


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