Special Circumstances While Grading

While you are grading, you should be mindful of student citations and know what to do in cases of incomplete work, possible plagiarism, or writing on sensitive topics.


Whenever you are grading a research paper, make sure that you diligently check citations. Citations are especially important in research papers and some students may not have many opportunities to practice. It’s important for you to recognize whether a student is using the citations correctly. If they have not mastered citations, you can point them to the following resources (based on which formatting style they are using) and be sure to flag this to the teacher in the Class Summary write-up.


If you suspect plagiarism, please send the teacher a message immediately and let them know which student and where the plagiarism is located in their essay. Teachers have their own procedures for handling plagiarism. Your job is simply to alert them. Here are some potential signs of plagiarism, according to MIT’s Comparative Media Studies Writing Center:

  • Unusual phrasings
  • Noticeable unevenness of style (some very sophisticated sentences followed by some amateurish ones)
  • Concepts that seem too sophisticated for the level of the class
  • Unclear or incorrect sources listed in the bibliography
  • A writing style or diction choice in a particular paper that seems inconsistent with that found in other samples of the student’s writing  
  • Please note: It is NOT your responsibility as a Graider to identify the source of the plagiarism. Please do not copy and paste student work into free, online plagiarism detectors. While this may seem like the diligent thing to do, you may not share student work with any third party - including services like these.

Incomplete Work

If you come across work that is incomplete, please send the teacher a message immediately and be sure to include the student’s name in your message. The teacher may be able to upload a completed version of the work, or they may have their own procedure for handling incomplete work (depending on how much the student has written.)

It can be challenging to provide constructive feedback on work that is incomplete, but you still need to engage the student based on what they have written. Students are more likely to read a personal note than a coded teacher response. Simply remarking “incomplete assignment” - while potentially the most accurate statement - will not motivate or encourage students to keep working. To be effective, students need to hear what the Graider is trying to say. Try your best to give them praise on what they did - and encourage them to persist. 

Carol Jago, the author of Papers, Papers Papers, gives the following example of feedback for incomplete work:

Dear student,

Intriguing title and introduction. You make me want more - much, much more. Fulfilling the demands of this assignment requires an essay that is at least twice as long as what you have written here. It’s not that longer is always better but without development you essay is incomplete. Next time be sure to include concrete examples to support your thesis.

Sensitive Student Work

Student writing provides opportunities for students to be vulnerable. When you are reading and grading student writing, it is possible you will encounter personal accounts or hints at violence, self-harm, abuse, neglect, bullying, or other similarly sensitive content. If you encounter this or suspect a student may need help, it is your responsibility to immediately send a message to the teacher. Include the student’s name so that the teacher is aware of the situation and can check in with the student and follow up as necessary. This is absolutely critical in cases where a student may be in danger.