PART 5: FACULTY RESEARCH PAPER REGULATIONS - Bachelor of Political Science (Major National Politics)

Article 1. Objectives

§1 A research Paper is the capstone of the Bachelor's degree programme, in which the student independently further develops and integrates the knowledge and skills built up in the various course units. The importance attached to the Research Paper is reflected in the high number of credits (more credits than a regular course). A supervisor and one commissioner, in accordance with the assessment criteria mentioned in Article 4 (and appendix), assess a research paper.

§2 A research paper aims to be a paper in which the entire research cycle is completed on a political science topic. It requires a thoroughly detailed overview of the literature, the formulation of a political problem and research question, an adequate research design, an exploratory empirical study and conclusions and reflections on the research conducted. The purpose of the exploratory research is to understand the problem better, to find possible answers to the research question, and to adjust and concretise the research design based on the insights gained. A more complete answer to the research question can be sought in follow-up research (in the Master's thesis for example).

Exceptionally, with the express permission of a supervisor, a research paper can also only make a theoretical contribution without using empirical data. In that case, other guidelines apply to, among other things, the structure of the paper, the assessment criteria and the progress assignments. A supervisor is responsible for clearly communicating these guidelines to the student who is writing a purely theoretical research paper.

Article 2. Method

2.1. Guidance

§1 With regard to a research paper, which is written in the context of the course 'Internship', we make a distinction between the actual product (the research paper) and the process (the progress process including mandatory assignments).

§2 Each student is guided by a supervisor (a member of the professorial staff or a post-doctoral researcher / post-doctoral assistant). The supervisor is a member of department of Political Sciences. Assistants and scientific staff with the necessary experience and expertise and/or staff from other departments may also be involved in the supervision under the final responsibility of the supervisor.

§3 The supervisor follows the guidance procedure as discussed in article 6

2.2. Choice of a research theme and supervisor

§4 Possible subjects are presented in the first week of the academic year, during an information session (see 6.2.). Students can obtain information from the supervisors about the proposed subjects in the second or third week of the academic year (see 6.2.); students can, of course, also formulate a proposal themselves and submit it to a supervisor.

§5 In order to be able to guarantee high-quality supervision of a research paper, the research theme is situated as much as possible in the field / research domain of the supervisor. The aim is to ensure a solid distribution of the students among the various potential supervisors.

§6 Each student communicates the proposal of his / her choice via the online application “Plato”, as well as the name of the supervisor. The proposed supervisor gives explicit approval for this. This means that the student has to receive the approval of the supervisor first before submitting the proposal.

§7 Submission date 1th session: check the FSA website:

§8 Anyone who does not meet this deadline will be excluded from participation in the first exam session for the Research Paper. To participate in the second exam session you also have to register in Plato.

See also:

2.3. Approval of research theme and supervisor

§9 The supervisor's approval (requested to submit the research theme) counts as approval of the proposal.

2.4. Submitting the Research Paper

§10 A research paper is to be submitted electronically  on Ufora.(pdf format). The supervisor can request a hard copy if necessary (two copies, printed on both sides, no plastic folders, covers or rings). The paper should be submitted according to the same modalities in the resit period. These modalities can be deviated from in case of specific measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19. This will be communicated through Ufora.

§11 If a research paper is not submitted before the specified date, the student concerned is not admissible for the deliberation, except in the case of force majeure. The supervisor, in consultation with the chair of the examination board, decides if the reason for force majeure is valid.

2.5. Oral defense

§12 A research paper comprises a written report and an oral defense with a presentation (maximum 10 minutes) and a round of questions by a supervisor, commissioner and internship coordinator (maximum 20 minutes). Feedback is also provided at the end of the oral defense. The aim of the oral defense is to be able to better assess the process and the product of the research paper. A student is given the opportunity to further explain and substantiate the choices made. No oral defense is organised for the Education research paper.

2.6. The evaluation procedure

§13 A Research Paper is assessed by a supervisor and one commissioner, in accordance with the assessment criteria mentioned in Article 4 (and appendix). The commissioner is the internship supervisor or one of the lecturers of the course 'Internship' and not a supervisor of the research paper. A supervisor and commissioner try to determine a final score by consensus. If they cannot agree on a score, the final score will be determined by the average of the supervisor's score and the commissioner's score. The final score is determined on the basis of the assessment of the written version of the research paper by the supervisor and commissioner and the assessment of the oral defence. If there is a significant discrepancy of 4 or more points between the supervisor's and commissioner's assessment, a third assessor will be appointed.

§14 The assignments with regard to progress are evaluated by the supervisor, albeit in consultation with the internship coordinator.

Article 3. The format of the paper

3.1 General form requirements

§1 A research paper takes the form of a fully completed study, including research question, problem definition and literature review, research design, explorative empirical research and conclusions and reflections.

3.2 Structure

a) Front pieces
- Title page (a standard title page is used. A template is made available on Ufora)
- Abstract (min. 150 words, max. 250 words, in Dutch)
- Word Count

b) Recommended corpus
Introduction: Definition of the problem and formulation of the research question (and possibly sub-questions), and interpretation of the scientific (e.g. status quaestionis, placing research in a wider context, added value of one’s own research with respect to existing research) and social relevance and structure of the research paper.
- Theoretical framework: analytical discussion of the existing literature on the theme, working towards the hypothesis (s) (and sub-hypotheses) that one wants to study.
- Research design: justification of the choice for a certain research type, data used (e.g. operationalisation of variables) and analysis methods.
- Exploratory empirical research in which a preliminary answer to the research question is formulated on the basis of the researched data (e.g. part existing database)
- Conclusions: preliminary feedback of the empirical findings to the state of the literature, critical reflection on the choices made in the research and suggestions for possible adjustments to the research in function of the master's dissertation.

c) Back pieces
- References
- Possible attachments

3.3 Source reference

§3 The APA system has to be used for source reference (see APA manual on Ufora). The use of EndNote is recommended.

3.4 Size

§4 The length of the paper has to be between 8,000 and 15,000 words (abstracts, tables, bibliography, footnotes and attachments not included). The number of words (word count) is stated on the title page.

! These minima and maxima may not be exceeded under any circumstances. If this is the case, the research paper will be declared inadmissible.

Article 4. Assessment criteria

§1 The assessment criteria are laid out in the Research Paper Assessment Form (see appendix). For the evaluation of the '"Education research paper", a separate rubric for the assessment of the educational (research) competences is to be completed.

Article 5. Originality, scientific transparency, language and plagiarism

5.1. Originality

§1 A research paper requires a certain originality of the student. The student is expected to contribute to the academic knowledge of a theme on the basis of his own exploratory empirical research.

5.2. Scientific transparency

§2 In scientific work all assertions have to be always properly and clearly substantiated. The writer has to enable the reader to follow the argumentation well and to estimate the scientific value and scope of each statement.

This means that the writer has to clarify came how he or she has constructed ideas (own experience, own data collection (how was the data collected ?; where ?; when ?; etc.). With each use of the ideas or empirical findings of others, the writer has to refer to the source (s) used in an adequate manner. He / she also has to make a clear distinction between one's own summary / interpretation and the literal citation of a source.

5.3. Language of the research paper course

§3 A research paper is written in Dutch. Upon simple request and with the supervisor's approval, the research paper can also be written in English or French. When a research paper is written in English or French, a summary in Dutch is required.

5.4. Plagiarism

§4 With regard to irregularities with regard to a research paper/master's dissertation, or with regard to other forms of (written) reporting, the Faculty has drawn up Faculty Plagiarism Regulations (see Part 9 of the FOER). Students have to follow these regulations thoroughly.

Article 6. Progress process

6.1. Logic

§1 Interim supervision and evaluation moments are also linked to the research paper. The final part of the process consists of an oral defence and feedback will be given afterwards. Both the interim assignments, the oral defense and the actual research paper are evaluated.

§2 During the progress process, formal assignments are given depending on the development of the actual research paper (see 6.2.). The purpose of this, in addition to guaranteeing the progress and quality of the research paper, is to learn how to organise, elaborate and defend your own (research) project ("project management").

§3 In addition to the formal supervision activities, individual supervision is also possible by the supervisor or his or her employees at the request of students.

6.2. Practical implementation of the progress process

§4 Various formal steps are provided in the supervision of the progress process:

1) Introductory session

- Classroom session in the first week of the academic year for all students following the course.

- Presentation of the research paper linked to the course 'Internship', i.e. the different phases in supervision, possible research topics and supervisors, the procedure for choosing a supervisor and the assessment criteria used.

2) Project proposal

- On 6 November (or the next first working day), each student submits a project proposal to his supervisor. The proposal should provide a general outline of the political science research question(s) of his or her research paper. This project proposal also indicates the link between the internship and the research paper. How can the internship, for example, contribute to answering the chosen research question? What is the substantive link with the internship position? Finally, the proposal briefly reflects on the module(s) that students want to follow within the course Political Scientific Methods in function of the formulated problem.

- The project proposal is drawn up in consultation with the internship coordinator and the supervisor. Students have to contact the internship coordinator before the preparation of the project proposal to discuss certain matters. On the basis of this proposal, a supervisor will be appointed by the mentors of this course. Together with the internship coordinator, the latter will be responsible for the further supervision of the research paper. This includes, among other things, advice on the module(s) from the course Political and Scientific Methods which the student can best follow

- The project proposal also has to be submitted to the internship coordinator.

- The project proposal counts for 1 point and is awarded by the supervisor in consultation with the internship coordinator.

Registering supervisor and research question on Plato: see FSA website via: and

3) Progress interview with internship coordinator

- A progress meeting will be held in February between the student and internship coordinator regarding the research paper.

- In this interview, students explain the state of affairs regarding their research.

- A week before this appointment, in which students have to take initiative himself, they briefly (max. 1 page) send a state of affairs by email and indicate which questions they have about the research paper.

- This interview and the document submitted are assessed by the internship coordinator who organises a feedback moment for students in consultation with their supervisor.

- The progress interview and the 'state of affairs' count for 2 points.

4) Oral defense and feedback

- The research paper has to be defended orally before an examination board.

- The defense takes place before the start of the first exam sessions of the second semester.

- The oral defense consists of a short presentation by the student of his or her research paper of approximately 10 minutes. During that presentation, the student elaborates on the paper: he or she presents the research questions and the literature study. The student also explains the chosen methodology and the first results of the exploratory research. A PowerPoint presentation has to be used for this, which has to be submitted in advance. Afterwards, the student has to answer questions and reply on comments from the board for a maximum of 20 minutes on all parts of the research paper. During the defense he / she has to demonstrate, among other things, why he or she has chosen certain research question (s) and others not, which method was used, etc.

- The examination board consists of prof. Nicolas Bouteca and prof. Koenraad De Ceuninck, the supervisor of the research paper and the internship coordinator. The internship supervisor involved can also be present; he or she then acts as an advisory member of the examination board. However, the internship supervisor is not part of the examination board.

- The examination board does not only limit itself to assessing the performance delivered, but also provides feedback for possible improvements in the research presented.

Register supervisor and research on Plato: see FSA website and

6.3. Alternative trajectory for outgoing exchange students

§5 These students cannot be exempted from the assignments with regard to progress.

§6 The progress sessions are completed in writing maintaining the same deadlines. A traineeship responsible or supervisor can give feedback on the submitted documents via email or Skype.

§7 Exchange students inform their supervisor about their stay abroad at the start of the academic year.

6.4. Grading

§8 The assignments in the context of the progress process as presented here represent a total of 3 points of the total number of points for the 'research paper'. The actual paper represents 17 points. To pass this course, the student has to obtain at least half of the points for the paper. If this condition is not met, the student will receive a mark that is lower than 10/20. If this condition is met, the figure is calculated as the sum of both, with the progress assignments counting for 15% and the paper for 85%. In order to succeed, the paper also has to be defended orally.

§9 Both the progress process and the research paper as such will be assessed. Students can only achieve half of the points foreseen for progress if they respect the deadlines and submit valuable notes. In order to achieve more than half of the points, students have to submit a substantial content contribution.

§10 Students who withdraw from the progress process receive 0 out of 3 for this part of the course. They are not excluded from submitting the research paper.

§11 For the assessment of the assignments that are awarded on points, see the below guidelines

- Project proposal:
o Relevant theme?
o Good choice and discussion of inspiring texts?
o An incentive for political science problem definition?
o Clear writing style?
o Interesting and feasible research question?
o Well-founded reflection on the Political Scientific Methods module that best fits the problem definition?

- Progress interview
o Approach research paper
o Progress since project proposal
o Management of one’s own research process
o Relevant questions
o Keeping agreements

6.5. Second exam session

§12 There is NO second exam chance for the progress assignments (which consist of non-periodic evaluations). The points for the progress assignments are taken over to the second session.

§13 Those who do not participate in the progress assignments receive a 0 in 3, but are not excluded from submitting the actual research paper in the second session.

6.6. Disease

§14 In case of illness (legitimised with a letter of illness), a specific arrangement will be worked out in consultation with the supervisor - if this is practically possible and in line with the logic of the progress format.

§15 The sickness regulations as applicable to exams also apply.

Article 7. Additional requirement for those who failed the research paper and have to resubmit it at a later time

Students who did not pass the research paper and who resubmit it at a later date, have to add a separate document, in which they (a) provide an overview of the changes made, and in which they (b) indicate how they have taken the reports and the comments on the earlier version into account.


Research Paper Assessment Form