Purpose: The purpose of commentary is not simply to report things but to give readers a way to make sense of them. A commentary will help you write critically about a topic and will help you analyze this topic within a larger societal context.
Audience: Your audience for this paper should be one who has a stake in the topic. For example, if you are discussing your understanding of a topic like ISTEP testing, your audience could be administrators.
Genre: For this paper, your genre is in the form of a commentary.
Stance: Your stance should be formal in that you are writing to an academic audience who will be making meaning of your topic. However, you may use the pronoun “I” to discuss your position.
Media/Design: This paper should be typed and take the form of an essay: 4-6 pages, double spaced, Times New Roman, with title page.
Give readers something to react to, think about or use to make sense of topic.
You will not use an objective tone or take a neutral stance; you have a perspective.
You are attempting to analyze and explain what is going on around you.
You are asking your readers to consider one possible way of making sense of what has happened in the past and what is going on in the present.
Your readers want a satisfying account of our shared experience and to find patterns of meaning that can make the world make more sense.
Approach your readers as co-thinkers, you are asking them to look at the world from your perspective (whether they ultimately agree with you or not). Even through your perspective, you must negotiate differences fairly.
While doing these things, refer to chapters 30-33 in Norton. You will be analyzing, classifying, and perhaps defining. Chapter 12, entitled evaluations, also speaks to aspects of commentary papers and Chapter 9 refers to arguing a position.
For this paper, you need to have three sources. Because you will be trying to show your perspective and make a valid argument, referencing sources will be helpful.
One source should be from a scholarly or professional source. A scholarly source is something that is considered academic like an essay from a journal or a book published about the issue. A professional source is something that might be found in a trade magazine or published specifically in regard to a professional issue.
You should use APA citation for your sources.
Purpose: The commentary paper meets a clearly defined purpose (e.g. to persuade, inform). The purpose is compelling because it goes beyond simply completing the assignment.
Audience: The commentary paper is addressed clearly to a specific audience besides the teacher; a peer group who needs to be informed about the topic, a group who might have a stake in the topic, etc.
Persona: The writer’s prose establishes a consistent and appropriate relationship with readers – one that is formal, informed, and/or concerned.
Development: The writer develops three to five main claims which are supported adequately via writer commentary and research. The argument concedes when necessary and makes meaning for the reader. The paper shows how the writer makes sense of the issue in a larger context. The paper is 4-6 pages.
Organization: The commentary paper has a clear thesis which maps the rest of the paper. The main points follow in a logical order. The introduction acts to entice the reader to move forward and the conclusion answers, “so what?”
Research: The writer has used 1 academic, professional, or trade source, and 2 other reliable sources which relate to the topic. They are integrated into the paper to help strengthen the writer’s voice. The sources are cited correctly in MLA format.
Style: The prose is engaging, clear, and coherent. Word choice is appropriate and sentences generally flow from one to another. Transitions between paragraphs are effective. The style encourages a dialogue between reader and writer.
Readability: The prose is free of distracting errors in grammar, mechanics, and spelling.
Revision: Substantial revision has taken place in between all drafts.
The commentary paper meets a clearly defined purpose (e.g. to persuade, inform). But the purpose is less compelling because it is geared primarily toward completing the assignment.
The commentary paper is addressed to specific audience sometimes. There are places where audience is unclear.
The writer’s prose establishes a relationship that is usually consistent, but that may shift inappropriately at one or two points.
For the most part, the writer develops three to five main points although some may lack backing. In some places, the writer fails to include his or her own voice to help transition between points. The writer doesn’t give much meaning for the reader and may fail to make sense of it in a larger picture. The paper is 3-4(part) pages.
The commentary paper has a thesis, but it does not direct the paper in all parts. A few elements appear in places that weaken the writer’s purpose, or unnecessary repetition may detract from a reader’s sense of coherence.
The writer has used one academic, professional, or trade source, and one other reliable source which relate to the topic. They are integrated into the paper, but in some parts they do not help strengthen the writer’s argument. The sources are cited correctly most of the time in MLA format.
The prose is generally clear and coherent. Word choice is generally appropriate, but a few inappropriate words weaken the prose. A few sets of sentences may be choppy, disrupting flow.
Although the prose is free of sentence-level errors (e.g. comma splices, fused sentences, fragments) it may contain a few obvious mechanical or spelling errors.
A good amount of revision has been done between one set of drafts (i.e. from draft one to draft two, but not from draft two to draft three).
The commentary paper meets no clearly defined purpose, or it may switch purposes unexpectedly. The writer seems only to have submitted something to complete the assignment.
The commentary paper has no clearly defined audience. The prose may imply inappropriate shifts in audience.
The writer’s prose establishes a relationship that is often inconsistent, that shifts inappropriately at more than a few points.
The writer generally fails to develop three to five main points. The research given does not support the argument. There is no writer’s voice to carry the reader from point to point.
The commentary paper is organized in a manner generally inappropriate for a logical argument. The thesis does not guide the paper. Unnecessary repetition detracts from a reader’s sense of coherence.
The writer has used no academic sources and other unreliable sources. The sources may not relate to the topic. The sources are not integrated with the writer’s voice and they do not help strengthen the argument. In many places the sources are not cited correctly in MLA format.
The prose is unclear in more than a couple of places. It may also be choppy in more than a few places.
The prose contains distracting sentence-level errors. It may also contain more than a few obvious mechanical or spelling errors.
No apparent revision has taken place.