This page outlines the requirements needed for essays and the grading system used for the papers.
Rubric points 1 through 7 are baseline objectives, which are required for papers earning a B- or higher score. In other words, any paper that does not earn at least a B- by meeting the rubric points will be deemed “incomplete” until they are met. Exceptions to point 7 may be made under extenuating circumstances. Point 8 is an advanced objective. All papers earning an A- or higher will sufficiently meet point 8. When assessing the students’ papers, the advisers will assign one of four proficiency levels for each point: does not meet, sufficiently meets, meets and exceeds and meets and greatly exceeds.
- Does the essay have a clear and well-developed thesis argument, which is articulated in the introduction and substantiated in the body paragraphs? A well developed thesis argument will not only explain the paper’s subject matter but consistently and purposefully analyze historical causation.
- Does the essay describe the historical context of the chosen topic?
- Does the essay engage the historical discourse by situating its argument within pertinent historiographical debates?
- Does the essay support its thesis with ample, accurate and specific historical evidence? Papers must cite both secondary sources and primary sources using Chicago Style to provide historical evidence. The appropriate number of sources for an essay to cite will vary based on its subject, After the student has determined the essay’s topic, the advisor will establish how many sources it must cite.
- Does the essay thoughtfully analyze historical significance?
- Is the essay logically organized, well written and proofread for grammatical and spelling errors?
- Is the paper between 6,250 and 7,500 words (roughly 25 to 30 double-spaced pages)? Footnotes, the title page and the works cited pages do not count toward the word length.
- Does the essay imaginatively engage with historical scholarship corroborating, qualifying, modifying and contesting other historians interpretations of the past? Such essays will exhibit a complex understanding of historical development by frequently and creatively analyzing both primary and secondary sources in order to synthesize a well developed thesis argument.
Thesis Steps to Completion
Students will complete the thesis in an eight step process. Students must complete all eight steps in order to receive a final course grade on their thesis project, except under extenuating circumstances.
1 — Prospectus
The student will compose a six to seven page paper (1,500 to 1,750 word) prospectus. The prospectus will articulate the research question, formulate a working thesis argument, describe historical context, analyze the historiography of the research topic and assess how the thesis project will either challenge or advance the existing historiography. The prospectus may also address any methodological difficulties the student foresees in his/her project.
At the end of the prospectus, the student will append a bibliography. Each bibliography entry will include a one paragraph description of the source. The annotates bibliography does not count toward the 1,500 to 1,750 word length of the prospectus.
The student may write his/her prospectus as a paper for the History Methods course. After writing the prospectus, the student will meet with his/her thesis adviser to discuss it. A student may incorporate edited versions of the context and historiography portions of the prospectus into the thesis essay with permission of his/her adviser.
2 — Outline
The student will compose an outline of his/her essay, which delineates its sub-arguments. The adviser will provide thorough feedback of the outline, including critiques regarding argumentation, research and structure. The student will meet with the adviser to discuss this feedback. The adviser may require the student to modify portions of the outline before moving to step three.
3 — First Draft
The student will write a rough draft of the first third of his/her thesis essay, consisting of an introduction, a historiography section and the opening body paragraphs.
The adviser will provide thorough feedback for the first section, including critiques regarding argumentation, research, grammar and structure. The student will meet with the adviser may require students to re-write portions of this draft before moving to step four.
4 — Second Draft
The student will write a rough draft of the second third of his/her essay, consisting of the central body paragraphs.
The adviser will provide thorough feedback for the second section, including critiques regarding argumentation, research, grammar and structure. The student will meet with the adviser to discuss this feedback. The adviser may require the student to re-write portions of this draft before moving to step five.
5 — Third Draft
The student will write a rough draft of the final third of his/her thesis essay, consisting of the last body paragraphs and the conclusion.
The adviser will provide thorough feedback for the final section, includes critiques regarding argumentation, research, grammar and structure. The student will meet with the adviser to discuss this feedback. The adviser may require the student to re-write portions of this draft before moving to step six.
6 — Complete Draft
Students will merge all three sections of the thesis essay into a penultimate draft. This penultimate draft will incorporate the advisers’ feedback by this draft.
The argumentation, research, grammar and structure should be refined by this draft. However, the adviser will provide additional feedback on it and may require the student to re-write portions of the essay. The student will meet with the adviser to discuss this feedback.
7 — Final Draft
The student will submit the final draft, which will incorporate the advisers’ feedback from the penultimate draft.
8 — Presentation
The student will present his/her findings at a public setting, such as BSU’s Student Achievement Day and undergraduate conference at another university or at a thesis defense meeting before a panel of three faculty members, including the adviser.