Goucher College Writing Proficiency Criteria (Rev. 8/2006)

Criteria Goucher faculty consider most important to proficient writing:


Writers should have clear theses that are appropriate for their papers' length, audiences, and purposes, with appropriate transitions between major parts.

Writers should demonstrate that they can develop positions and arguments rather than merely describe topics.


Writers should logically organize the major points of their papers, using techniques appropriate to their topics and the logic of their arguments.

Content Specifics / Support--

Writers should support their theses with sufficient, specific, appropriate evidence.

Writers should demonstrate their ability to employ the basic strategies of research writing: evaluation and analysis of primary and secondary sources, engagement with differing arguments and correct incorporation of them into the writers' argument, and appropriate citation.

Writers should understand the definitions and consequences of plagiarism in all its forms, as described in the Academic Honor Code.

Style and Voice--

Writers should use diction that is clear, accurate, and appropriate.

Writers should be able to compose effective complex sentences rather than just simple and compound sentences.

Writers usually should use strong verbs, avoiding passive and vague constructions, except when required by genre (e.g., the use of passive voice in lab reports).

Writers should use standard grammar and spelling.  Sentences should be coherent, unambiguous, complete, and properly punctuated.

Writers should use paragraphs that are well-organized and coherent, with clear topics and functions that serve the paper's thesis.