Primary Source Deeper Dive Rubric—HIST 1320

Primary Source Deeper Dive Rubric—HIST 1320

Key Reminder: To do well on this option, you have to research and analyze TWO things: the author of the text PLUS the ideas in the text. Do NOT simply do a report on the author. You have to engage with the key ideas in our reading, too!


Guidelines and help will be located in Canvas.

Excellent (A)

Sophisticated / Nuanced

Good (B)

Successful / Thoughtful / Solid Fair (C)

Basic / General / Non-specific Superficial (D)

Limited / Inaccurate Unsuccessful (F)

Criteria Not Done / Understanding Not Shown

YOUR THESIS / Conceptualization of Answer to the Prompt——WORTH 10% OF YOUR GRADE

Your Answer to the Prompt:

What important life experiences did the author have that shaped the views/values/beliefs that come through in what he or she wrote in

the primary source reading?

Thesis provides a clear, specific, and explicit articulation of the focus of the essay

Thesis shows a sophisticated and nuanced analysis and understanding of how the author’s life experiences shaped the ideas in the text

Conceptualization demonstrates excellent depth of thought and insight and demonstrates a clear understanding of relevant research materials and content

Thesis serves as the controlling idea of entire essay—EVERYTHING included in the essay serves it. Your topic sentences advance it.

Thesis is both specific AND all-encompassing of every analytical point you make in your body paragraphs. You have figured out what analytical umbrella everything you discuss can fit under.

Thesis statements go beyond just listing the kinds of information or points you’ll develop to actually characterizing them (can be done in one to two sentences—you’ll fully develop in the body paragraphs! Dr. Law is OK with multiple-sentence thesis statements!) MAKE SURE TO LOOK OVER THIS HELPFUL SITE ABOUT THESIS STATEMENTS: cannot just be the type of point you’ll make—you have to really capture precisely what your answer is!

Thesis provides a good, clear, thoughtful articulation

Conceptualization demonstrates depth of thought and understanding

Thesis serves as the controlling idea of the essay

Thesis statements do have good specificity and clarity but do not nail the characterizations as well as the A range Thesis sets up essay but does not specifically articulate focus

Analysis shows a general understanding

Conceptualization demonstrates basic thought and understanding of research materials

Thesis serves as the controlling idea of most of the essay

Statements lack specificity in characterizations

I can basically tell what you’re going to talk about in your paper, but I can’t tell exactly where you’re going with your analysis and/or conclusions!

Thesis does not provide clear focus OR is not actually proven in the essay

Does not show adequate analysis, thought, or understanding

Conceptualization is either severely limited or problematic due to inaccuracy

Shows a lack of familiarity with research materials

Thesis is unclear and/or superficial

Has very little characterization or specificity OR statements contain problematic inaccuracies

I can only somewhat tell what you’re going to talk about in your paper (very little of your actual analysis or conclusions)

Is not clearly articulated / has no thesis

Does not control / fit with content in essay

Does not show a vision of topic or research

I can’t tell what you are going to talk about!

YOUR RESEARCH—WORTH 20% OF YOUR GRADE (Remember that these are your MINIMUM requirements!)

Note: You need 4 total sources (NOT counting the primary source text)

Demonstrates a command of the research tools available through the Alkek search tools and holdings

Finds required number of quality sources:

Uses at least 2 highly relevant scholarly MONOGRAPHS from the library (physical or e-book). THESE MONOGRAPHS HAVE TO BE AS SPECIFIC AS POSSIBLE GIVEN YOUR TOPIC. For example, say you are writing about the Texas Rangers. A general history of the United States is NOT the best you can do! Look for the most specific treatments that will have the most relevant information (such as a book about the Texas Rangers or a book about violence along the Texas-Mexico border during that time period)!

Don’t freak out about my using the term monograph. That’s a book written by a scholar about a particular topic. As long as you’re not using a reference material like an encyclopedia, the odds are that you’re using a monograph. If in doubt, just ask me!

Class sources do NOT count here but need to be cited correctly in your analysis if/when used

Uses at least 2 highly relevant scholarly JOURNAL ARTICLES. THESE ALSO NEED TO BE ON-POINT GIVEN YOUR TOPIC. Often students end up with whatever the search engine shows first. Your articles need to be the most helpful for your analysis. Do NOT end up with a weird, off topic article!!

Must be peer-reviewed

Must be substantive (not just 1 page or a couple of paragraphs)

A single chapter in an edited work can count here (again…our reader does NOT count towards your research requirement for sources you find)

Conducts targeted research to find the relevant information to insightfully discuss the historical experiences of the author

Questions determined from own analysis

Key life experiences that shaped their views/values/ beliefs

How/why they wrote about what they did in the primary source

What happened to them after they wrote what they did

Uses good sources and meets requirements of number and type

Uses research to find good biographical information that explains key aspects of the content of the primary source

Shows a solid ability to use the Alkek search tools and holdings

Sources are too generalized or may be lacking a source

Uses research to find basic biographical information

May contain some irrelevant information to the content of the primary source

Shows a basic ability to use the Alkek search tools and holdings

May contain a source that is professional but not scholarly (like encyclopedia-style source) Sources are limited or may be lacking required sources

Includes inaccurate or superficial information

Research information does not show adequate work or relevance to the content of the primary source

Relies on general internet sources that may or may not be reliable; does not do adequate research through Alkek’s search tools and holdings

Contains some sources that are not professional and are not scholarly Did not do adequate research or none at all

Lacking multiple sources

Does not include adequate biographical information

Biographical information is unrelated or wholly inadequate regarding the content of the primary source reading

Does not show the ability to use university / scholarly resources

Contains multipole sources that are not professional and are not scholarly


This section is where you earn credit for your argument / elaboration. Make sure that the argument is anchored in that application of your research to your primary source analysis! REMEMBER THAT YOU CANNOT PROVE A POINT WITH JUST ONE PIECE OF EVIDENCE!

Adeptly connects biographical information to content of the text of the primary source for an insightful and sophisticated discussion of the author and their views

Demonstrates a nuanced understanding of the primary source reading as it reflects the author’s experiences and views

Uses specific and convincing evidence from the primary source reading AND biographical research

Provides excellent analysis and commentary on evidence (both textual AND biographical information)

Evidence provides convincing support for thesis / conceptualization. IN OTHER WORDS, ANY POINT YOU MAKE YOU BACK UP WITH EVIDENCE!

Commentary on evidence is insightful and smoothly connects evidence to thesis

Analysis is good

Evidence provides solid support

Commentary on evidence shows good thought

Shows solid understanding of topic

Evidence provides solid support

Commentary on evidence shows good thought Analysis is general / basic

Evidence is not highly relevant or is lacking

Commentary on evidence basic

Shows basic understanding

Evidence is marginally related or just general in nature

Commentary on evidence is basic Does not show adequate analysis, thought, or understanding

Statements unsupported by evidence or elaboration

Does not show adequate analysis, thought, or understanding

Includes inaccuracies that undercut argument

Information appears cut and pasted with no real thought to fitting things together

Some statements unsupported; evidence inappropriately used or mischaracterized Analysis is not done or does not show understanding

Does not provide evidence or elaboration

Does not provide commentary

Does not analyze required number of sources

Does not show understanding

Serious inaccuracies

Your Proper Use and Command of the Chicago Style of Documentation— WORTH 10% OF YOUR ASSIGNMENT GRADE

A failure to use footnotes and give proper credit can result in a penalty greater than the grade percentage of this section and can result in no credit for the entire assignment.

Pays attention to the difference between how books are cited and how journal articles are cited (in both footnotes and works cited sections)

Proper credit is given to ALL sources

Any direct quotation has a footnote at the END of the sentence.


If you cannot see page numbers for an eBook or article, you need to download the chapter or article in PDF form. Then the numbers should be visible!

Any paraphrased material has a footnote at the end of that discussion (unless you have a direct quotation in there, you can have several sentences of paraphrased information with a footnote at the end of that chunk of writing)

Every paragraph with source information has a footnote or footnotes to properly give credit. (The only way you have a body paragraph without a footnote is if you don’t use anything from any source in that paragraph. You should be discussing the primary source text AND/OR your research source(s) in each paragraph, so not having anything to cite would have a truly negative impact on your argument score.)

FOOTNOTES are formatted correctly

Word’s reference insert footnote tool is used (NOT endnotes)

Number in text is placed correctly at the END of the sentence—NOT in the middle

The text in the footnote section is font-size 10 and has uniform size and font with no extra spacing

There is excellent attention to detail in following the FOOTNOTE example from the Chicago Quick Guide (showing an understanding of the difference between the note form, which means footnote in our case, and the bibliographic form)

Pays attention to the difference between how you cite a source for the very first time in an essay and how you subsequently cite it (notes vs. shortened notes examples in the Quick Guide)

You have a proper Works Cited / Bibliography page

Make sure to refer to the CANVAS resources about how to use Chicago! A good-faith effort but not as much attention to detail as the A range Mostly a good-faith effort but with several minor errors Shows a superficial attempt. Requires consult with Dr. Law about giving proper credit and/or using Chicago Does not make a good-faith effort; does not give adequate credit to show academic integrity. Requires consult with Dr. Law about giving proper credit and/or using Chicago

Your Conceptualization and Writing—- WORTH 20% OF YOUR ESSAY GRADE (ALL TOGETHER)

Note: not doing well on these smaller categories can impact your scores in the previous categories!


Each Worth 5% There will be different ranges of success on these criteria:

A = Excellent, B = Solid, C = Fair, D = Problematic Unsuccessful


THIS IS YOUR INTRODUCTORY PARAGRAPH and how you work up to your thesis.

Your thesis is scored separately in the first section!

Do NOT write this part of your paper or your thesis until you are crystal clear about your analysis and what your evidence proves!

Has a good lead-in (your first sentence or two that you use as a starting point)

Is a single, introductory paragraph (you do not need multiple set up paragraphs!)

Introduction serves as an excellent lead-in for your essay and your answer to the prompt—frames the rest of your paper

Introduces your topic (specific enough to show clarity and understanding) and puts it into context: the time frame, the place(s), the people(s) involved

Shows an understanding of the way the paper is framed—I can see you working your way to your thesis and characterizations by getting more and more specific

Flows smoothly to the specific thesis statement(s) by keeping focus on key ideas or questions

Attracts your reader’s attention and interest

Avoids meaningless generalizations like “Throughout history…” or “From the beginning of time….” Your first sentence needs to be more specific to something involving your topic!

Does not introduce the larger topic

Is not clearly articulated / has no thesis

Does not control / fit with content in essay

Does not show a vision of topic or issue

Just has sentences that are unrelated, that do not go anywhere

Organization Every section of essay is tightly connected to thesis

Transitions and analytical connections make the writing flow smoothly and logically from one point to another and create a smooth expression of ideas

Weaves evidence from sources smoothly into argument using transitions (don’t dump clunky quotations into your paragraphs…work them into your writing!)

Every sentence and paragraph serve to develop and support the thesis

Each body paragraph has a clear topic sentence. THE FIRST SENTENCE OF EACH BODY PARAGRAPH HAS A SENTENCE THAT SETS UP HOW THAT CHUNK OF INFORMATION FITS WITH YOUR THESIS!! Think of it as a miniaturized thesis just for that body paragraph.

Essay is disorganized and/or disjointed

Limited or no transitions make the information choppy or jumping around = hard to follow ideas

Lack of connections makes essay more a collection of unrelated thoughts or information

Not all information serves the essay topic and thesis

Use of Language Well written, good vocabulary—accurately uses historical terms, proper spelling, grammar, mechanics, plus a Non-Boring, Original Title that Connects to a Key Point in Your Essay!! Is not something blah like the name of your author!! It sure as heck isn’t “Research Paper”!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Writing is simplistic, and errors detract from meaning


Comes prepared on Peer Review Day and responds to any other process workshop or check in.

Paper is typed, double-spaced, font size 12, 1-inch margins, 4 pages minimum (not including title page/bib page—NOTE: 3.5 pages does not equal 4!) and 6 pages maximum (it’s OK if you go over onto the next page), has footnotes (font size 10), has pages numbered with your last name in the header, has title page and bibliography that look exactly like the examples provided (spacing, place on the page, etc.); sources are cited correctly using Footnotes and Turabian/Chicago-style format. Heads up: the title page is NOT page 1!!! See link provided in Canvas for help with this!

Show me that you cared enough about your work that you carefully looked over the formatting examples that I provided.

Note: essay will automatically be screened by Turn It In when submitted digitally into Canvas. Make sure that any direct quotations have quotation marks around them and that you cite every, single source.

***If an e-book does not have page numbers, do the download as PDF option…that should have page numbers to put in your citations.

Note: a 4-page paper does not guarantee you a passing grade. Neither does a 6-page paper. You have to do adequate research and develop your ideas in your body paragraphs in order to do well on this assignment.

Does not come prepared on Peer Review Day

Does not follow format; falls short of minimum length

If you have any questions about what anything means in this rubric, reach out to Dr. Law or your IA for clarification! We want to see good papers, and we want you to do well. Ask about anything in here!