Criteria Description Points Thesis Clear, perceptive, and focused; leads to an incisive, creative argument; takes on interesting, complex ideas; sufficiently limited in scope. [6-8 points] Muddled or difficult to decipher; ordinary or uninteresting, not especially creative or insightful; may lack focus, be too broad. [3-5 points] No thesis or a thesis that is merely descriptive, not the heart of an argument; vague, confusing, or plainly erroneous thesis. [0-2 points] Motive Introduction establishes a compelling, thoughtful research question or puzzle to be answered; clearly identifies an inconsistency, contradiction, gap, conflict, or tension that needs explaining; engages the reader with a question, insight, or intellectual context. [4-5 points] Motive is present, but ordinary or not especially compelling; the opening sentences do not engage the reader’s attention or explain an interesting question or puzzle; the author has too many research questions or puzzles or a research question that is too broad or not well defined. [2-3 points]
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