1. Objectives

The course “Research Paper” is the capstone of the Bachelor's degree programme, in which students independently further develop and integrate the knowledge and skills built up in the various course units.

In the framework of guided self-study, students write a paper that consists of a problem definition about a topic in the field of Communication Science, a thorough literature study, feasible and adequate research design, time schedule and bibliography. Students are not expected to conduct empirical research. for the Research Paper.

The paper, which has to be defended orally in the presence of a supervisor and one commissioner, is an independent final activity in which the student autonomously processes the knowledge and skills built up in the various course units into an academic scientific text.

The Research Paper is an individual work. However, this does not rule out the possibility that several students may work on different aspects of the same broad topic or theme.

2. Method


In order to guarantee the quality of the paper, the topic is located in the subject area/research domain of the supervisor. In order to guarantee the quality of the supervision, the aim is also to spread the students among the different potential supervisors.

In order to ensure that this distribution runs as smoothly as possible, it is decided to work with themes that can change every year. These themes will be presented at the beginning of the academic year and will then be made available on Ufora. All supervisors provide these themes. A supervisor is a member of the professorial staff or a post-doctoral researcher/post-doctoral assistant.

The allocation to supervisors is based on the theme. Students will be able to indicate some preferences. Afterwards, the staff in charge of the 'Research Paper' course unit will assign students to supervisors on the basis of their preferred themes. Once assigned to a supervisor, students will be asked to work out a topic for his or her research paper based on the assigned theme. In consultation with the supervisor, the subject of his or her research paper is determined.

After the supervisor's agrees on the chosen subjects, students will be asked to register this subject in Plato (see also the introduction session). Strict deadlines apply here, which lead to the exclusion of the first exam session in the event of non-compliance. If students do not complete the procedure to formulate an acceptable proposal within the set dates, they have resume the procedure in the next exam session.


Each student is guided by a supervisor. This guidance takes place  during an intake meeting and on average three feedback sessions. Students are expected to be present during these sessions and should prepare for these. During the different sessions oral feedback is given on the proposed topic, on a problem definition and on a preliminary version of the literature study and research design.  Students themselves are responsible for writing down the feedback. Supervisors are not expected to make a written report of the feedback. Supervisors will inform students when these moments take place via Ufora. These data may vary from supervisor to supervisor.

Assistants and scientific staff with the necessary experience and expertise and/or staff from other departments can also be involved in the supervision under the final responsibility of the supervisor.

Exchange students may receive alternative guidance. Please contact the supervisor for more information.


The length of the text has to be between 5000 and 7500 words (not including cover, table of contents, abstract, tables, bibliography, footnotes and possible attachments). If the minimum or maximum number of words is not respected, the paper will be declared inadmissible.

The Research Paper is written in Dutch. Upon simple request and with the agreement of the supervisor, the Research Paper may also be written in English or French. If the Research Paper is written in English or French, a summary in Dutch is mandatory (OER art. 59). The paper should be structured in the following manner:

a. Title page
b. Table of contents
c. Abstract
d. Introduction
e. Literature study
f. Research design
g. Timetable
h. Literature List

a) Title page

A standard template will be made available on Ufora, with word count.

b) Table of contents

c) Abstract

Size (indicative): 150 to 200 words.

d) Introduction

This document contains the formulation of the problem definition and research questions. The introduction also clarifies the scientific, social and possible professional relevance of the subject or theme of the Research Paper and the related problem definition.

(e) Literature review

- Identification and clear presentation of the main scientific concepts and theories related to the problem definition

- This literature review includes a synthesis of the main theoretical perspectives and empirical findings on the problem and provides a link to their relevance to the theory.

- The literature review is a structured text and not a series of definitions and fragments.

- On the basis of the literature review, the submitter should be able to develop one or more specific research questions. Hypotheses, if any, may already be formulated in the literature study.

- The literature review concludes with a short conclusion that makes the transition to the research design.

f) Research design:

- Formulation of clear research questions or hypotheses based on the literature study.

- Clear justification for the choice of methodology based on a thorough comparison of the methods used in the literature: research type, data and analysis methods. He/she has be able to identify the most suitable methods for investigating one or more specific research questions. He/she should also be able to assess their strengths and weaknesses.

- In the case of a survey, experiment or content analysis, the research design should, for example,  provide a detailed description of items such as:

- the operationalisation of the concepts and variables;
- the coding methods to be used, the codebook;
- the sample design;
- the creation of any data files (xlsx, SPSS, NVivo,...);
- the analysis scheme
- When applying other research techniques, a detailed description of the empirical steps should always be given. In the case of interviews or focus groups, a first version of the topic list, for example, is to be provided.

g) Time schedule

- A realistic and concrete time schedule on a monthly basis to concretely implement the research proposal from A to Z, including data analysis and reporting.

h) Literature list

The minimum number of scientific sources is 25 and these should reflect the diversity of academic sources (articles, books, readers...).

i) Annexes

- Additional data may be collected here.

- The appendices should not contain any form of primary literature (articles, chapters, readers...).

The appendices are limited to essential documents that are not generally accessible.

Format requirements:

The paper is submitted in a standard font (e.g. Times New Roman, Calibri,...), font size 12 points with standard margins and one and a half line spacing.

The different parts of the work are indicated by titles and numbering: a maximum of three levels of titles are used.

A standard title page is used. A template is made available on Ufora.

For source reference, the APA system has to be used.

If mainly legal sources are used, in particular legislation and case law, the source references and cite and abbreviation methods applicable in law have to be used.


The paper has to be submitted in electronic form (pdf file) via Ufora.

If desired, the supervisor can request a hard copy (2 copies, printed double sided, and no plastic folders or covers or rings). During the resit, the paper has to be submitted according to the same modalities. In case of specific measures to prevent the spread of Covid19, this can be deviated from. This will be communicated via Ufora.


The assessment criteria are laid down in the Research Paper Assessment Form (see appendix). The final score is determined on the basis of the assessment of the written version of the Master's thesis by the supervisor and commissioner and the assessment of the oral defense. If there is a large discrepancy of 4 or more points between the assessment of the supervisor and commissioner, a third assessor will be appointed.   

In the case of scientific work, all statements always have to be well and clearly substantiated. The author has to enable the reader to follow the argumentation properly and to assess the scientific value and scope of each claim. This means the writer has to clarify how he or she constructed the ideas (one’s own experience, own data collection (How? where? when?....), etc.). When using the ideas or empirical findings of others, the writer has to refer to the source(s) used in an adequate manner. Students should also make a clear distinction between their own summary/interpretation and the literal citation of a source.

The faculty has drawn up Faculty Plagiarism Regulations with regard to irregularities with regard to the Research Paper or other forms of (written) reporting (see Part 9 of the FEER).


The exact dates are communicated each academic year during the introduction session. Students are expected to respect these deadlines.

For the submission dates we refer to the FSA website ( and the script on Ufora.

3. Oral defense

The student orally has to clarify the paper to the supervisor and the Commissioner during the examination period. He/she will be assigned a time slot by the secretariat of the Department of Communication Sciences. The oral explanation aims to assess the feasibility of the research proposal and the quality of the reviewed literature and theoretical elaboration. No additional documents or presentations need to be prepared. In the event of a resit, an appropriate moment will be agreed between the supervisor and the student.

4. Additional requirement for those who have not passed the research paper and who resubmit it at a later date

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) give an overview of the changes made, and (b) indicate how they have taking the reports and the comments on the previous version in account (if applicable).


Assessment Form Research Paper