Essay – research paper on beowolf–research_paper/00–the_research_paper.html



  1. Don’t give the biography of the author.
  2. Don’t retell the story. Seriously, don’t!

Analyze the Literature

  1. Textual Criticism. Establishing the text is important for ancient texts & frequently for more recent ones as well.
  2. Source Criticism. What sources did the author use? What did the author change? Keep the same? What does that mean? Here is an example of source criticism.
  3. Psychological approaches.
    1. Freud
    2. Jung
  4. Sociological approaches.
    1. Marx
    2. Mead
  5. Structural (and post-structuralist) approaches
    1. Lévi-Strauss
    2. Barthes
    3. Derrida
  6. This is just a thumbnail sketch of all the approaches to literature. A good place to start becoming familiar with the various approaches is by collecting the Critical Theory Trading Cards. Never be at a loss for a way to analyze literature again!



  1. You did not provide a thesis.
  2. You assumed a thesis but did not state it. Or you stated a thesis, but the thesis was vague or too broad.
  3. You provided an adequate thesis.
  4. You provided an outstanding thesis that cogently sets up your analysis.


  1. You had neither topic sentences nor logical development.
    • a. You had topic sentences, but they were not logical.
    • b. You had logical development, but you did not provide topic sentences.
  2. Weak topic sentences. Weak development.
    • a. You had topic sentences, but they did not support your thesis.
    • b. You had topic sentences, but they were too broad.
  3. You had both topic sentences and logical development. These provide a competent but uninspired framework for your description.
  4. You had excellent topic sentences and logical development.


  1.   Unsatisfactory use of primary sources.
    • a. You provide no supporting details and quotations from the work you were analyzing.
    • b. You provide details and quotations in an apparently random order.
  2.   Weak use of primary sources.
    • a. You provide some details and quotations, but they are too general and vague.
    • b. You provide some details and quotations, but too many do not belong where you place them.
  3. You provide generally provide details and quotations in the proper places and provide a general picture of what you are analyzing.
  4. Your use of details and quotations clearly, effectively, and aptly supports your argument.


  1.   Unsatisfactory use of secondary sources.
    • a. You did not use research materials in your paper.
    • b. You abused research materials (plagarized).
  2. You used research materials in a manner that demonstrated a lack of mastery of them. Examples of this are quotations that do not support the argument you are tying to make and strings of quotations that run on too long.
  3. You use materials in a competent but uninspired way to support your argument.
  4. You smoothly integrate the research materials you use into your argument.


  1. Your essay lacks coherence and cohesion. Transitions are ineffective. The paragraphs read like a list, with no connection between the sentences.
  2. The paragraphs have a general focus, but some sentences are unrelated. Coherence, cohesion, and transitions need work.
  3. Paragraphs are generally well developed with fewer than three problems of focus, unity, or coherence. Transitions may be a bit forced.
  4. Paragraphs are focused, unified, and coherent. Transitions are logical and effective.


  1. You exceeded 10 serious grammatical mistakes.
  2. You had 7-9 grammatical errors.
  3. You had 4-6 errors.
  4. You had 1-3 errors.
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