Anyone about to enter a North American university and concerned about the criteria in their all-pervasive grading system could do worse than consult Chad Nelson, a graduate student at Simon Fraser University, who offers the following analysis : the student failed to cite any of the professor's published work no matter how irrelevant: -10 per cent.
The paper disagrees with the opinions of the professor: -15 per cent. The paper links relevant concepts from other academic disciplines: -25 per cent. The paper conveys original thought: -20 per cent. The paper challenges concepts advocated in the lecture, but then, in rebuttal, endorses the wisdom of the professor's views: +20 per cent.
He concludes with some handy advice for professors on capturing the reader. Mark the paper thoroughly with thick, red, authoritative penstrokes. Use lots of emphatic symbols such as huge question and exclamation marks.
Before returning the papers to the students use wild, emphatic gesticulation to illustrate a personal diatribe on how the university, quality of students, society and quality of student papers are going to hell in a handbasket. Immediately after handing back the papers go on an extended research trip to Costa Rica.