POLS 150: Current World Problems Fall 2011, Ohio University

Policy Memo Grading Rubric

  • Formatting (10 points) [Memos substantially under 13 pages or over 15 pages will be penalized]
    • Are all of the fonts and margins as specified?
    • Is the heading as specified? Are the pages numbered? Are all group members’ names listed?
    • Are all in-text citations present and properly formatted? Is the bibliography properly formatted (in Chicago Manual of Style formatting)?
  • Organization and Style (30 points)
    • Is the memo organized with a clear introduction (excluding the executive summary) that defines the problem, provides a roadmap for the memo, and summarizes the main recommendations?
    • Does the memo have a conclusion that draws together the key points?
    • Are there section headings, and do the section headings help the reader to follow the memo’s “story”?
    • Is the memo free of spelling, grammatical, usage, and major stylistic errors? Is it clear and easy to read, yet written in a formal tone? Does it avoid jargon and state the problem and its solution in plain English? Note that the first-person (“We recommend…”) is perfectly acceptable. Also note that, with very limited exceptions, bullet-points should be avoided in favor of plain language.
  • Statement of the Problem (20 points)
    • Does the memo demonstrate a grasp on the major issues and actors involved in their “current world problem”?
    • Does the memo accurately describe the scope of the problem, explaining to the reader why he or she should care?
  • Describing the Issues: The body of the memo (20 points)
    • Does the memo draw accurately and effectively on major social science research and informed (expert) opinion surrounding the problem (15 sources cited, 7 by “experts”)?
    • Does the memo effectively summarize and explain the various (and often competing) positions taken by relevant actors on the problem?
    • Does the memo describe existing projects or proposals to address the problem, including those that run against the memo’s recommendations?
  • Recommendations and Conclusions (20 Points)
    • Does the memo clearly state their recommendations in a way that leaves no doubt as to the position of the authors?
    • Do the recommendations address competing proposals and potential counter-arguments?
    • Does the memo take its chosen audience into account, recommending actions that could plausibly be taken by the memo’s recipient?
    • In general, are the recommendations plausible, taking into account the resources and circumstances necessary to carry them out?