Thursday, October 11, 2007

Telling Mistakes

I am grading mid-term papers and am reminded of my college epistemology professor's frustration that half the class (I don't remember if that included me) misspelling "epistemology" in our first set of papers ("epistomology").

Here is a list of common minor mistakes that rapidly sour me to a paper:
  1. Misspelling my name.
  2. Repeatedly misspelling the name of the author, book, or film (or character in a film).
  3. Wrongly attributing references usually attributing something to the author when she was quoting another, or vice versa (my current favorite is a person who replaced the author with the publisher "Routledge says..")
  4. Inconsistent capitalization, italicizing, and such.
  5. Paraphrasing, referencing, or quoting from a text book by saying "the book says."
  6. Starting a sentence "Reason be" (maybe this is a dialect issue, but it usually happens in papers with many other errors).
  7. Refusing to use the possessive form ('s), and instead just using the proper noun (Hume Fork, Craig wife, Plato theory).
  8. Referring to things as "theories" when they are not. (skeptism (sic) theory, metaphysics theory, epistemology theory, etc..)
  9. Starting a paper with a condemnation of the subject, confession of ignorance, or quotation from the dictionary ("Webster's Dictionary defines a contract as an 'unbreakable agreement....unbreakable! ...uhh You honor I'd like to move for a... bad.. court... thingie")
One or two mistakes is to be expected. Spell check errors, while no excused, are understandable, but if a paper has five or six of these mistakes, odds are, I will become impatient with it and give up searching for the hidden content. These errors themselves do not result in a bad grade. But if a paper is on the borderline, or requires much 'charitable interpretation' from me, these don't help.

Note: I allow students to rewrite all papers (except the final one, heck I'd probably even allow that if they want a grade change). So please do not berate m


At 10:24 PM, Blogger amanda said...

What about ending the paper in the middle of a sentence? ;)


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