Writing and reviewing essays

This page provides general instructions for writing and peer reviewing essays for the courses Introduction to Cyber security, Securing Software, and Advanced Topics. The two project courses have their own instructions.

Writing essays

Essays are worth of 5 points. You will get only 1 chance to submit an essay, so submit only when you are ready.

To pass an essay you must return an essay and provide at least 3 peer reviews for each essay. Essays must be within the limits dictated by the system. If they're not within this limit you will not be able to submit your answer. We may also reject your answer if it's flagged too many times as spam or if it doesn't contain deep enough discussion. Also, we may reject your peer reviews if you haven't put genuine effort into them.

Please write the essays carefully and with thought. Other participants in the course will review them and give you feedback. Essays should be written individually and using your own words. Copy-pasteing from other sources is not allowed. Copy-pasteing text from other sources and pretending it to be your own counts as plagiarism. Plagiarism is not allowed under any circumstances, and will have consequences when caught. See here for more detailed descriptions.

If appropriate, add a list of references to the end of the essay.

What may happen is that the course deadline is passed, and you have not received enough feedback for the essay to be accepted automatically. In that case the course staff will check the essay.

Peer reviewing essays

Once you submit an essay, you will have to provide 3 peer reviews.

Peer reviewing consists of general comments and 4 criteria which are graded on a scale 1-5.

You should justify your grading in the general comments. Be specific, constructive, and polite.

The general explanation for the grades is as follows:

  • 1: failed, the essay should be rejected
  • 2: passable, the essay is still acceptable but barely
  • 3: average, main points are presented but there are obvious ways to improve the essay
  • 4: good, minor issues, but otherwise excellent work
  • 5: excellent, no issues or only cosmetic issues

The more detailed criteria-specific rubric is given below. When providing feedback take into account length limitations on essays.

CriteriaGrade 1Grade 2Grade 3Grade 4Grade 5
comprehensiveplagiarized, unrelated, copy-paste, or otherwise inappropriatemost important points are presented, an obvious point that should have been discussed is missingall major points are mentioned but obvious connections are not describedall major points are described but some (subtle) connections that could have been mentioned are missingno issues or only cosmetic issues
on-topicplagiarized, unrelated, copy-paste, or otherwise inappropriatethe essay answers the asked topic but contains portions of unrelated, unjustified discussionmost of the essay stays on topic but contains some unrelated discssionthe essay stays on-topic but contains some minor, unrelated pointsno issues or only cosmetic issues
easy to followplagiarized, unrelated, copy-paste, or otherwise inappropriatethe intention of the author is understandable from the essay but the presentation leaves room for improvementmeandering sentences, not grouped properly into paragraphsminor grammar issues but otherwise excellentno issues or only cosmetic issues
well-reasonedplagiarized, unrelated, copy-paste, or otherwise inappropriatethe essay requires significant effort from the reader to infer the missing stepsfew gaps in logic but they can be read between the linesminor gaps in logicno issues or only cosmetic issues