Toward a Rubric for Argument

John Morillo


Claim/Evidence structure

Does the argument do more than summarize plot? Is there a main claim/thesis?

Are summaries used as evidence for some claim?

Does the argument stake claims that are not obvious? Not trivial?

Is each claim supported by plausible textual and other evidence?

Not Just What But Where

Is the paper point-first, with a thesis that summarizes the conclusive idea?

If not, is there a good rhetorical reason for its being point-last?

Are the points clearly stated?

How well are points linked with transitions?

Do points develop or merely repeat?

Are the paragraphs also point-first?How consistently?

Are paragraph breaks structured by points or random?


Does the introduction introduce the thesis effectively and efficiently?

How does the argument frame the issue to which the argument responds?


Does the conclusion merely repeat whatís been said or recast it in a new context, raise a new issue, or open up to new texts and claims rather than just seeking closure?

Prolepsis and Humility

Does the argument anticipate objections and address them?

Does the author acknowledge the provisional and limited nature of the argument?


Does the argument simply follow the chronology of the text(s) being interpreted? Breaking from that default structure is often the key to a student paperís having a voice.

Does the argument integrate other text and opinion well into its own voice?

Dos the author have a notable style?


Is the argument easily readable as prose?

Is it up to grammatical standards of published prose?

Is it clean copy?