Staged Rubric for Research Paper

[PDF Printable Handout ]

Task Description: Write a research paper on the popular culture topic of your choice.  Your paper should be based on primary resources, although you should, of course, include whatever secondary sources are available on that topic.  In addition to whatever other primary sources you use, you are required to create, distribute, analyze, and utilize the results of a survey on your topic.  The survey must include at least 10 questions and must be distributed to at least 30 people to be valid. 

  Excellent Average Weak
Preliminary bibliography (Stage 1) Due Week 2 of class
  • All possible primary sources are listed.
  • All possible secondary sources are listed.
  • Formatting follows a recognized style.
  • Some primary sources are listed but not all.
  • Some secondary sources are listed but not all.
  • Formatting includes all relevant information but follows no known format. 
  • No primary sources are listed.
  • No secondary sources are listed.
  • No recognizable format style is used and information on many entries is partial.
Working thesis (Stage 2) Due Week 3 of class The thesis is clearly written, allows for a compelling paper whether your research proves the thesis correct or not. The thesis is unfocused and too simplistic.  What are you going to do if your results prove you wrong? This is not a thesis, working or otherwise.  Where are you planning to focus this paper?
Survey (Stage 3) Due Week 3
  • Questions relate clearly to the thesis.
  • Questions are as objective as possible and do not “lead.”
  • There are at least 10 questions in addition to those relating to demographics.
  • Survey formats (multiple choice, Likert scale, yes-no) are appropriately used.
  • The demographic questions are limited to those that might make a difference to our thesis. 
  • Some questions do not seem to relate to your thesis.
  • Questions show a bias toward a desired result; you are leading your respondents or failing to allow them to disagree if they wish to.
  • Survey formats (multiple choice, Likert scale, yes-no) are not always used to their best advantage.
  • Demographic questions are too general and either too many or too few.
    • Questions seem unrelated to your thesis; you need to rethink either the thesis or the survey.
    • Questions do not allow for any flexibility of response.
    • Survey formats are not well selected for the types of questions you are asking.
    • Demographic questions are unclear and seem to have no relevance to thesis or topic.
Survey analysis (Stage 4) Due Week 6
    • SPSS or Excel was effectively used to collate, cross-reference, and analyze the data.
    • Every method was used to gain as much information from the data as possible.
    • The results were presented in both narrative and graphic forms.
  • SPSS or Excel was used to collate, cross-reference, and analyze the data, but there are some mistakes in how used.
  • More information can be wrung out of these data.
  • The results were presented in narrative or graphic forms but not both.
    • SPSS or Excel was not used or was used incorrectly.
    • Very little analysis of the data was done.
    • The results were not written up in narrative form or generated in graphic form.
Outline or mind-map (Stage 5) Due Week 8 The outline or mind-map shows clearly where every aspect of the research done will go in the final paper. The outline or map-mind gives a general idea of how the research will fit into the final paper, but some parts are missing or some connections are unclear. The outline or mind-map is unfocused and incomplete.


Stevens, D. D., & Levi, A. J. (2005). Introduction to rubrics. Sterling, VA: Stylus Publishing LLC.