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SNL Paper Rubric Explanations


Simply responding to an assignment or competency does not make an excellent essay. To be excellent, your essay must go well beyond the requirements of the assignment, providing the reader with a new insight or exceptionally compelling evidence.


Every essay has a purpose. In many cases at SNL, your purpose will be to persuade your reader that you have obtained a competency. You should develop a broader and deeper understanding of what you know from experience. You will be asked to do this by reflecting upon your experience and by studying applicable ideas, theories or principles so that you can analyze your experiential knowledge. For more on writing to competencey, see How to Write a Paper, particularly the section on organization.


Your essay should deal with the ways people might disagree with your claims and shortcomings of your evidence. When you find research or think of ideas that contradict or challenge your claims, embrace them. Sometimes you will think of rebuttals that strengthen your original claim. Other times, you will find yourself modifying your original claim in light of these new ideas. Either way, you will end up with a more deeply thought through and much stronger paper.


Successful papers almost always include detailed and credible support for focused claims. To support any claim, you need specific details that advance the particular point you are making.  Your evidence must be credible. Credible evidence is typical, adequate, relevant and accurate. Typical means that your evidence should not be from extreme cases. Relevant means your evidence actually supports your claim and that it is timely. Accurate means evidence that meets commonly held standards of correctness and truth. The best place to start looking for credible sources is the DePaul Library.

Logical Development

The ideas in your paper, the way you support these ideas and the connections you make between ideas must make logical sense. Logic in this sense can be both formal and informal patterns of reasoning like deductions or identifying the causes of a problem before recommending solutions. Your final drafts should have a clear and consistent organization that makes it easy for the reader to follow the flow of your ideas. D. G. Jerz from Seton Hill University provides an explanation on his webpage "Logical Argumentation in College Writing."

Style and Tone

Words, grammar, sentence and paragraph structure can shape the style of writing. Punctuation, sentence structure, and descriptive words can convey tone. You will need to adapt all of these features to meet the expectation of the specific audience you are writing a paper for.


Quotes, paraphrases and summaries of information from sources should be smoothly integrated in the flow of your essay. This means that they should fit grammatically with the writing around them. You must connect the ideas from your source with the ideas in your paper. In other words, introduce a quote or other information from a source and say in your own words how it relates to the point you are making. Use either MLA or APA citation. This means you will need to have in-text citation and a Works Cited or References page. In-text citation is when you indicate your source in the body of your paper using parentheses.

Sentence Variety and Paragraph Development

Vary the structure of your sentences. Use multiple strategies to develop paragraphs, such as addressing an objection, describing, comparing, giving examples, or adding detail. This development is crucial for fully thinking through and communicating your ideas or focus. Capital Community College provides more information on sentence variety and paragraph development.

Grammar and Usage

Even the best of us make mistakes, and it is very hard to find our own errors. Proofread on your own, but also use the Writing Center and kind friends to help you check over your papers. Capital Community College provides more information on proofreading.