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 research paper is assessed by a supervisor and one commissioner, in accordance with the assessment criteria mentioned in Article 4.

§2 A research paper comprises a detailed research proposal on a sociological subject. It presupposes the formulation of a sociological problem, the elaboration of concrete (sub) research questions, a thorough literature study and the elaboration of a suitable and feasible research design.

§3 In contrast to the papers for some other course units, a research paper is an individual work. However, this does not exclude that several students may work on different aspects of the same broad subject, or that they may discuss their progress in group meetings. This is done in close consultation with the supervisor.

Article 2. Method

2.1. Guidance

§1 With regard to the course “Research Paper”, we make a distinction between the actual product (the research paper) and the guidance (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 the department of Sociology. 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. A co-supervisor from outside the study programme is possible. Co-supervisors do not grade the paper or assignments, but pass on their comments to the supervisor who may (if they deem the comments insightful) take them into account when grading the paper and assignments.

§3 The supervisor follows the guidance procedure as discussed in article 7.

§4 A supervisor may establish additional deadlines than the general deadlines mentioned above for specific steps when preparing the research paper. These are presented to students at the start of research paper process.

§5 In addition, the deadlines mentioned in article 6 also apply.

2.2. Choice of a research theme and supervisor

§6 Possible subjects are presented in the first week of the academic year, during an information session. The topic proposals are also published by the supervisors via the application "Research Paper" which can be found on the information site (Ufora). Students can obtain information from the supervisors about the proposed topics; students may also formulate a proposal themselves and submit it for approval to a supervisor.

§7 In order to be able to guarantee the quality of a research paper, the research theme is, of course, situated in the field / research domain of the supervisor. In addition, the aim is to ensure a balanced distribution of students among the various potential supervisors.

§8 Each student communicates the chosen proposal 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 via Plato.

§9 Submission date 1th session: check the FSA website: This also applies to research themes with supervisors of outside the faculty.

§10 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

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

2.4. Submitting the Research Paper

§12 The research paper has to be submitted electronically (upload on Plato). In the second session, the paper should be submitted according to the same modalities. Important additional information, such as interview transcripts, audio files and consent forms have to be uploaded along with the research paper. Any digital attachments up to 600MB have to be uploaded via the research paper module on Plato. Anything above 600MB is to be delivered separately in consultation with the supervisor (via USB, CD-Rom or shared via OneDrive, wetransfer etc..). Any interview transcripts should, therefore, not be added as an attachment in the research paper itself, but can be forwarded as separate files, together with the audio files and consent forms, to the supervisor and the commissioner at the time of submission.  

§13 If a research paper is not issued 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 chairman of the examination board, decides if the reason for force majeure is valid.  

2.5. Oral defense

§14 A research paper comprises a written report. Students do not have to prepare a presentation or orally defend their paper. However, students have to carry out a number of assignments for which they have to provide an active (oral) contribution.

2.6. The evaluation procedure

§15 A Research Paper is assessed by the supervisor and one commissioner, in accordance with the assessment criteria mentioned in Article 4 (and appendix). The study Programme Committee appoints a commissioner. The final score will be the average of the supervisor’s score and the commissioner's score. If the scores of both assessors differ by 4 points or more, a third reader is appointed (the third reader meets the same criteria as the supervisor and the commissioner). The final score is then the average of the three grades.

§16 The assignments with regard to guidance are evaluated by the supervisor

2.7. Feedback

§17 Each student is entitled to feedback on his/her paper. After the proclamation of the first and/or second examination period, feedback will be provided on Plato.

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, (sub) research questions and a research design and/or analysis plan.

3.2 Structure

a) Front pieces
- Title page (a standard title page is used. A template is made available on Ufora
- Abstract (min. 200 words, max. 300 words, Dutch)
- Word Count

(b) Recommended corpus
- General problem definition: formulation of the problem, context, and interpretation of scientific relevance
- Literature study
- Specific research questions/ hypotheses, possibly supplemented with a theoretical model
- Research design: detailed justification of the choice of research type, evaluation of databases (available or not), proposal of analytical methods, supplemented, where appropriate, by an operational model.
- Time schedule

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). If mainly legal sources are used, in particular legislation and case law, the source references and methods of citation and abbreviation applicable in law have to be applied. The use of EndNote is recommended.

3.4 Size

§4 The length of the paper has to be between 5,000 and 15,000 words (not including abstracts, tables, references, footnotes and possible attachments). 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. Scientific transparency, language and plagiarism

5.1. Scientific transparency

§2 In scientific work all assertions always have to be 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 make clear how he / she came constructed the 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.

5.2. Language of course Research paper

§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.

5.3. 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 10 of the FEEC).

Article 6. Guidance

6.1. Logic

§1 The subject 'Research paper' consists on the one hand of a guidance part consisting of information moments and work meetings, and the end product (the actual research paper). Both the input in the meetings and the actual research paper will be evaluated.

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

§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 guidance

§4 Various formal steps are provided for guidance

Introductory session
- Classroom session in the first week of the academic year for all students following the course.
- Presentation of the course “Research Paper”, the different guidance phases, possible research topics and supervisors, the procedure for choosing a supervisor and the assessment criteria used.

Information moment per supervisor
- During the second week of the first semester (or the first or third week), during the consultation hours of supervisors, or during a collective session with interested students.
- The aim of this session is to have exploratory discussions about the choice of a research topic.

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

Progress meeting 1: problem definition

- This meeting will take place before 15 November, during one session per supervisor, or in a collective session with several supervisors

- Students orally clarify the problem definition based on a short document of 2 to 4 pages. Relevant scientific literature is also clarified (2 to 3 key publications). Although it is still a work-in-progress, this document is an official version (with references, a clear paragraph structure, etc.).

- The aim of this meeting is to stimulate the development of a clear problem definition at an early stage of the process and to have students adjust their writing style and reference technique when necessary.

- Submission of the documents at the latest 1 week before the meeting, by email and on paper to the supervisor.

Progress meeting 2: theoretical framework

This meeting takes place between 15 November and the Christmas holidays, during one session per supervisor, or in a collective session with several supervisors.

- Students orally clarify the theoretical part of the research paper on the basis of a document of 2 to 4 pages. In this document, the structure of the theory section is shown and explained. The different theoretical approaches are distinguished from each other and briefly described. This is an annotated table of contents. The document ends with the formulation of some working hypotheses or specific research questions.

The aim of this meeting is to develop a clear, consistent and goal-oriented theoretical logic and a modified structure, which will be elaborated in a goal-oriented manner in function of clearly formulated research questions.

Submission of the note at the latest 1 week before the meeting, by email and on paper to the supervisor.

Progress meeting 3: research design

This meeting takes place between 15 March and 5 April, during one session per supervisor, or in a collective session with several supervisors.

Students give a presentation on the state of affairs (+-8 slides) in which all aspects are covered (problem definition, theory, hypotheses/research questions and research design), with special attention to the research design (Which choices? What are the advantages and disadvantages of the choices? Test feasibility).

- This presentation is based on a first serious draft of the research paper (which is not quoted separately from the presentation).

- 1 or 2 students act as a discussion partner

- The aim of this meeting is to develop a clear research design and to develop presentation and discussion skills.

- Submission of the presentation and draft: at the latest 1 week before the meeting - also to the designated discussion partner. During the meeting, the discussant delivers a short memo in which the main points are clearly formulated (maximum 1 page).
Submitting final paper, for dates see website FSA: and

6.3. Alternative trajectory per supervisor

§5 Progress meetings 1 and 2 can also be completed in writing, subject to the express approval of the supervisor.

§6 These students are not excluded from the assignments within the framework of the guidance.

§7 Meeting 1 and 2 (and related assignments) will be completed in writing. For meeting 3 (presentation) an alternative assignment is planned. Instead of the presentation, an annotated presentation will be made, with an additional text block per slide with additional comments. For meeting 3 (discussant assignment) an alternative assignment is also provided. Students draw up a written critique of the presentation of a fellow student (e.g. another Erasmus student). This task consists of a text of about 3 to 4 pages in which the positive, interesting matters are highlighted, gaps and/or errors are indicated and some tips for further development are given.

§8 If the supervisor agrees, the outgoing Erasmus student may carry out assignment 3 at another time (but it has to take place between the second progress seminar and the submission deadline).

§9 Erasmus students inform the supervisor about their foreign stay at the beginning of the academic year.

6.5. Alternative route for linking and preparatory programme students

§10 The research paper for linking and preparatory programme students is based on a different format, both in terms of content and guidance. This was established in a regulation that will be communicated via Ufora.

6.6. Grading

§11 The grading of the activities within the framework of this guidance format is aimed at rewarding commitment, purposefulness and logical thinking. It does not constitute the evaluation of a finished research paper.

§12 The assignments within the framework of the guidance as presented here represent a total of 4 points of the total number of points for the course 'Research paper'. The actual paper represents 16 points. Students can only pass the course if they get at least an 8 out of 16 on the paper itself (i.e. the score without the guidance).

§13 Both compliance with the deadlines and the quality of the work are assessed. The mere participation in the process (respecting deadlines, delivering serious products) is rewarded with a maximum of 2 points out of 4. Scores higher than 2 can only be achieved if there are substantial contributions in terms of content. After all, it is not the intention that purely formal participation (with no added value in terms of content) is rewarded.

§14 Students can participate in all meetings, even if they have previously missed meetings. Of course, this does have an impact on the grading. Those who did not participate in the accompanying assignments will receive a 0 out of 4, but will not be excluded from submitting the actual research paper.

§15 For the assessment of the assignments, see the below guidelines:

- Meeting 1:

o Clear sociological research question?
o Good description of relevance?
o Clear writing style?

- Meeting 2:

o Sufficient and relevant integration of a theory?
o Logical structure?
o Clear link with problem definition?

- Meeting 3 (presentation):

o Feasible and relevant (link with problem definition/literature) design? o Identification of relevant available databases (if applicable)? o An eye for pros and cons of a research design? o Clear and transparent presentation?

- Meeting 4 (discussant):

o Critical remarks? o Constructive attitude and contribution?

6.7. Second exam session

§16 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.

§17 Those who do not participate in the progress assignments receive a 0 in 4, but are not excluded from submitting the actual research paper in the second session.

6.8. Illness

§18 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.

§19 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 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