The Papers-Based Credit Option


The goals of ESSREP are for students to gain exposure to research conducted in the social sciences, enhance understanding of the basic theories and methods guiding research studies, and encourage students to apply the knowledge learned in class to their lives. As an alternative to the research participation option, you can earn ESSREP credit by reading an approved research article and submitting a short essay (see list of accepted articles and grading rubric below). Please email the lab manager at if you would like to be enrolled in the paper option, and be sure to include your name as it appears on Carmen and the class that this credit will be for.

All essays must be submitted to the lab manager at on one of the due dates listed below. The lab manager will inform you of your performance for each essay within 7 days of the due date, via email. DO NOT CONTACT YOUR INSTRUCTOR OR TA REGARDING THESE ESSAYS. All submissions, grading, and enforcement of policies will be handled by the lab manager.

Each essay will be graded out of 10 possible points which are equivalent to up to 2 credits; see your class syllabus for the number of credits that are required (or allowed, for extra credit). Depending on your class’s credit requirements and rules, you may not need to submit a paper for every due date. However, completing them towards the beginning of the semester is still highly recommended! 

Please contact the lab manager and you will be sent an article to write your assignment on for a specific due date. Assignments written on non-approved articles will not be accepted.


PAPER DUE DATES for Spring semester, 2024


Assignment Due

Jan 22nd

**Enrollment Deadline. You must enroll by contacting Ellen Eilers, ESS Lab Manager, at by this date to participate in the paper option. Please include your name as it appears on Carmen and the class that this credit will be applied to.

Jan 29th

Due date #1 (article #1) - Please include “ESSREP paper  – your name – class number” in the subject line

Feb 5th

Due date #2 (article #2) - Please include “ESSREP paper – your name – class number” in the subject line

Feb 19th

Due date #3 (article #3) - Please include “ESSREP paper – your name – class number” in the subject line

Mar 4th

Due date #4 (article #4) - Please include “ESSREP paper – your name – class number” in the subject line

Mar 18th

Due date #5 (article #5) - Please include “ESSREP paper – your name – class number” in the subject line

Apr 1st

Due date #6 (article #6) - Please include “ESSREP paper – your name – class number” in the subject line

Apr 15th

Last due date #7 (article #7; last chance) - Please include “ESSREP paper – your name – class number” in the subject line

Apr 26th

Your total points earned will be shared with your instructor

No assignments will be accepted after a deadline has passed.


If a personal emergency arises and you cannot meet one of these deadlines, you must notify the ESSREP lab manager at in a timely manner. Similar to other class assignments, you will be required to submit sufficient documentation about the emergency.


Grading Rubric:

Part 1: Article Summary

            ___/1pt Summary of the rationale (stated purpose) of the research or paper

___/1pt Describe the methods used to perform the research

            ___/1pt Briefly describe the main findings from the research

___/1pt Summary of discussion points and conclusions of the authors

Part 2: Article Reflection and Class Application

___/2pts Provide a brief personal reflection on the meaning or implications of results – i.e. what is the “so what” of these findings to your life, the world, or an issue you’re concerned about?

___/2pts Discuss a way in which these methods or results relate to something you’re learning in class; what class concept and part of the research, and in what way are they connected?

Word Length and formatting

            ___/1pt Paper includes article name, your name, and the class that this credit is for

___/1pt Paper is at least 500 words long and free of grammatical or writing errors

Total =___ / 10pts; ___Credits.


Essay Instructions: 


Essay Part 1: Article Summary (4pts)

  • Briefly summarize the purpose of the article: What was it about? What questions were the researchers trying to answer, and why? (1-2 sentences)
  • Summarize the research methods used by the authors to answer their questions. This summary should include things such as the research instrument (Interviews? Surveys? A review of other studies or data?), how many people were sampled, and any steps that were taken to ensure the data would be accurate. (2-3 sentences)
  • Summarize the results; what the researchers found in response to their questions. (2-3 sentences only)
  • Summarize the points made by the authors in the discussion and conclusion section; how are these findings new, important, or build on previous research? Did the researchers find what they expected to? (2-3 sentences)
  • Be sure to summarize the above four areas in your OWN words. DO NOT copy and paste directly from the article. It is considered unethical to copy or plagiarize writing from any source (electronic or non-electronic) in order to complete this writing assignment. Such behavior will be reported to the Dean of Students for appropriate academic discipline and could result in a failing grade.
  • Further advice for writing an article summary from the Online Writing Lab at Purdue University:


Essay Part 2: Reflection and Class Application (4pts):

  • In the personal reflection, think about the meaning of the article’s findings in relation to your own life or the world. In other words, how would you answer the question “so what” about the article’s findings? (3-5 sentences)
  • More specifically, you could answer questions such as: “How does this research relate to my life or personal experiences?” “Is this result or conclusion something I agree or disagree with”? Or, “How do these findings impact an issue I care about?”
  • In the class application, think how a research method, result, or conclusion made in the article relates to something you have learned or discussed in class. For example, does the article elaborate on a concept or principle from a reading or lecture? Does the article provide evidence for or against something described in class? Or, are new ideas introduced that go beyond what was covered in class? (3-5 sentences)
  • Be sure to describe the way in which the class and article concept are connected; don’t just name them.


Word Length and Formatting (2pts):

  • Be sure that your essay is at least 500 words, includes the title of the article you reviewed, your name, the class you are writing the essay for credit in, and that is free of typos and grammatical errors.
  • Note that the sentence amounts listed above are not required and are only intended to serve as guidelines; they will not be a component of your paper’s grade.



Submit your essay via email to the ESSREP lab manager at on the corresponding due date listed above. Essays will not be accepted after the due date. Only one essay can be submitted per due date. Contact the lab manager at if you have extreme circumstances that will keep you from meeting a specific due date, or if you have any questions about these assignments.


Paper option Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the “paper option”?

When participating in ESSREP for class or extra credit, an alternative is available for students who are under the age of 18 or not interested in participating in research. While we strongly encourage students to benefit from the first-hand experience provided in the research option, similar learning outcomes should be available by writing short papers related to approved research articles – which is the paper option.

How do I opt-in to the paper option? (I.e. I am someone who is under 18 or doesn’t want to participate in research)?

Email the ESSREP lab manager at by the enrollment deadline and let them know you will be doing the paper option for a certain class that semester. They will then add you to a list of students who they will be expecting periodic paper submissions from.

When will papers be due?

Papers will be due on a specific scientific article roughly every other Friday during the semester; see the chart above for specific due dates and times.

What happens if I submit a paper late? Can I get an extension?

Late papers will not be accepted. Extensions will only be grated in rare cases, such as medical emergencies. As a result, we encourage students to select articles with due dates from earlier in the semester, or weeks when they feel they will have enough time to complete the assignment.

Where do I submit my papers?

Your papers should be submitted via email to the ESSREP lab manager at on a the due date corresponding to the article. Please include “ESSREP paper – your name – class number” in the subject line. The lab manager will also grade your papers and let you know the grade you got on each via email. 

What scientific articles can I write a paper on?

Contact the lab manager and they will give you the approved article to write your assignment on for a certain due date.

How will papers be graded?

Papers will receive research credit using the rubric shown on this webpage, out of a total of 10 points earning up to 2 credits (or example, earning 8/10 points will earn 1.6 research credits).

If the papers aren’t submitted through Carmen, how will I know my grades?

You will be told your grades on each paper in an email response by the ESSREP lab manager; you can tally these scores as the semester goes to estimate your own score. At the end of the semester the lab manager will submit all of these scores to your instructor or TA to be added to your final grade.

It’s the end of the semester and I don’t think my ESSREP points match my records, what do I do?

Contact the lab manager at about this discrepancy as soon as possible and they will check their own records.

My class requires ESSREP credit as part of my grade. How many papers will I have to complete to get full credit?

That depends on the class, or if ESSREP is being offered as extra credit. This information will be provided in your class syllabus. However, since there are 7 opportunities to turn in papers during the semester you will likely be able to miss some due dates and still have the opportunity to receive full credit.