Just for kicks, and to finish the story, my research rubric:

Everyone starts from zero.

Up to 50 points for evidence—number and appropriateness of sources, and lack of plagiarism demonstrated by appropriate quoting and citing. Also length.

Up to 30 points for thesis/organization—ideas and how they are presented; presence of a worthwhile thesis, a conclusion, and a coherent development of the topic.

Up to 15 points for style—grammar, vocabulary, sentence structure, rhetoric, flow, drama, character.

Up to 5 points for technical details—page numbers, cover sheet, citation style correct, long quotations indented, etc.

Separate deductions for not following the basic rules—e.g., forgot to do the works cited or the abstract.

No problem with assigning points here. Occasionally I have to finagle a point or two, not to match an overall grade but to line up the numbers with my sense that “this paper is better than that one.”

Part of the difference is that I am not that tough on ideas. With a one-semester research paper that demands primary sources, you kinda have to let the evidence go where it will. Sometimes it doesn’t produce an especially ground-breaking or original conclusion, but merely a well-told and well-researched story of why things happened the way they did. You can still get an A/A- that way (this is more acceptable in history, I think, than literature).