Critical Paper: Guidelines/Format and Evaluation

Critical Paper: Guidelines/Format and Evaluation
In order to maximize your performance on the required critical paper, precisely
follow these instructions. In a three-page paper (Times New Roman, 12 point
font, double-spaced, 1” margins), include:
1. An introduction: in a brief paragraph (e.g., five sentences or less) provide
a succinct statement of your thesis and briefly outline the argument that
you intend to make in support of it. You may want to write this paragraph
last in order to ensure that it properly sets-up what follows. After I read this
section I should have a very clear idea of your coming argument and what
to expect.
2. A summary: in a paragraph or two (at most) summarize the argument that
you intend to critique. For example, if you favor a playoff format for
collegiate football then provide a brief summary of the opposite argument
(i.e., supporting the non-playoff model; e.g., the Bowl Championship Series
(ref. Dixon, 1999)). Make certain that you accurately represent the
argument that you intend to critique, otherwise all that follows will be moot
(and your grade will suffer). Be sure to set a narrow scope. If you address a
multiplicity of points (e.g., 3-4 points in favor of the opposing position) you
will not have sufficient space to refute them in the coming critical analysis.
In other words, summarize only the strongest arguments (1 or 2 at most) in
favor of the opposing position.
3. A critical analysis: this section should constitute the heart of your paper
and consume the majority of available space. Here you critique the
opposing position that you have summarized in section two. Engage a
point/counter-point sequence of debate. That is, address the opposing
position (A) with your critique (B). Then, follow your objection (B) with an
anticipated response (A1), to which you again reply (B2), and so forth until
you have exhausted your responses. Do not engage a single-turn debate
(i.e., where you provide a single response to numerous opposing positions).
The critical analysis, laconically, is an argument with yourself over a given
issue that you put to print for a grade. The pedagogical objective is for you
to critically dissect your opponents’ arguments, and anticipate how they
might respond to those criticisms and reply accordingly.
4. Conclusion: this should be a very brief and succinct paragraph (2-4
sentences) in which you summarize the main points you have made and
restate your main thesis.
Your papers are evaluated on the following criteria: 1| do you accurately
represent the opposing position, 2| do you attempt to refute the strongest
possible argument from the opposing side, 3| do you engage a point/counter-point
sequence, rather than a single-turn debate, 4| do you refute the opposing
argument (i.e., what is the normative strength of your thesis), 5| do you follow the prescribed outline. Affirmative answers are to your benefit, negative answers at
your cost; with all normative evaluation being at the discretion of the instructor.
In order to earn the highest possible grade a student must meet all of the above
criteria and refute the opposing position. Students who meet all criteria but do
not refute the opposing position, and who exercise innovative, thoughtful, and
intelligent arguments, including well-anticipated counter-arguments will be
graded in the B-range. Student’s who do not meet the above criteria and ignore
easily anticipated counter-arguments will be graded in the C-range. Students who
do not accurately represent the opposing argument will be graded in the D-range.
Papers graded in the F-range will include a combination of the above problems.
Additionally, papers that do not follow the proscribed format will be reduced by at
least one letter grade unless those papers are already graded in the F-range.
Do not include sources other than the author whose argument you are
addressing.

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