Writing Guide Home
Writing in History
Types of Writing
Your Professors' Advice
Turabian Style Citations
Links to Writing Advice
Decoding the Question (Definitions)
Grading Standards

What Should Be in Your Paper

  • An interesting argument: Remember you must be analytical, not just descriptive. Set up a tension or a surprise at the beginning and then discuss it. Do not spend all of your time (or even most of it) summarizing or describing.

  • Evidence of research: Your professor wants to see that you have read and analyzed a number of sources and woven them together in interesting ways. She wants assurance that you have learned something.

  • Clarity and organization: Your paper should make sense; the paragraphs should be organized to support the overall argument.

  • Technical details: Appropriate citations, readable prose, minimal (or zero) typographical errors, and good grammar.

What Shouldn't Be in Your Paper

  • Plagiarism: Plagiarism is copying someone else's work without acknowledgement in an attempt to pass that person's words and/or thoughts off as your own. Plagiarism will be treated to the full extent of the George Mason University Honor Code.

  • Personal opinions (when the assignment does not specifically call for them)

  • Too much description

  • Common grammar errors

  • Weak paragraph transitions

  • Misuse of quotations and paraphrases

  • Improper citations

  • Superficiality