The (almost) Perfect Paper - A Self-Evaluation Checklist

Math 4010/5010 - History of Mathematics

Mechanics
Spelling Use a spell-checker! Also, watch for words that sound alike but have different spellings.
Grammar Sentences must have verbs. Dependent clauses must be properly placed. Watch for run-on sentences!
Punctuation Don't separate the main noun from the main verb. Punctuation should reflect the logical structure of the sentence
Semantics Choose the right word! Pronouns need clear antecedents. Linking words ("because", "thus", "but", "although", etc.) should be used appropriately
Logic All sentences should be clear. All sentences should make sense. If you don't understand it, the reader won't either.
Format
Paragraphs Double spaced, first line indented.
Footnotes At the bottom of the page, not the end of the paper.
References Numerical pointers to the bibliography are all you need, but other formats are acceptable as long as they are clear and precise.
Bibliography Use a consistent format. Give full data.
Paper Organization
Introduction Should be well-written, state your goals and starting point, and should include a transition to the major portion of the paper
Conclusion Should briefly summarize your conclusions without being repetitive. Should provide closure to the paper
Main body Sections should have clearly-defined subjects. Logical structure of the argument should be clear. Use an outline!
Writing Style
Tone No contractions, appropriate vocabulary.
Objectivity Write objectively. Everything in the paper is, by definition, your opinion, so you need not intrude with "I think" and similar constructs.
Precision Don't confuse someone's opinions with fact, don't cite without a reference, say exactly what you mean, don't go beyond your evidence.
Readability It's your job to make your paper interesting and readable!
Substance
Content Include some real content. Aim for a high level of information. Details should be included only when relevant---deciding which details are relevant is part of your job.
Sources There's no minimal number, but there should be enough sources for what you aim to do. Evaluate your sources!
References Indicate the source for each bit of factual information.
Quotes Are they used to support the argument? Are there too few/too many of them? Do the quotes have a function, or are they just there to look pretty?
Argument Does the paper adequately support its thesis? Have other possibilities been taken into account? Have you thought this through?
Mathematics When you discuss math, are you precise? When you use formulas, are they meaningful?
History Does your paper make a historical argument? History is more than the collection of facts!


(Taken from F.Gouvea's Math 177 webpage and based on a table by Suzanne Medina published in The Teaching Professor, October, 1997.)