Research Papers and Proposals

Students are required to complete a Second Year Qualifying Paper, a Dissertation Proposal, and a Dissertation. Evaluation of the papers and the dissertation proposal is determined by a committee composed of the student’s advisor and two or more additional faculty members.  Students will be evaluated for continuation in the graduate program, for Graduate (Teaching) Assistantships, and for summer fieldwork using grades in course work, faculty evaluations and a specific evaluation of the second and third year paper/proposal requirements.

Second Year

Second-year students will prepare a Research Paper to be completed in the Spring Quarter of the second year.

  • Paper subject: The paper should be based on original fieldwork, laboratory or library research and should be suitable for publication.
  • Paper format: Conform to the study style required by a major journal in the field of the student's interest (e.g., American Anthropologist, American Ethnologist, American Antiquity, American Journal of Physical Anthropology, etc.). Each paper must be accompanied by a one-page abstract in a style appropriate to the format of the relevant professional journal. Although usually not required, a table of contents is a useful addition to better organize material.
  • Associated courses: Each second-year student registers for Anthro 590 "Research" with the faculty member who will serve as adviser for the Research Paper.  Students should work closely with their adviser and utilize all resources that are available through the expertise of their readers and other faculty.

Exception: Second-year students who entered the program with M.A. transfer credit will be expected to meet the requirements of third-year students by submitting a Dissertation Proposal.

Third Year

Third-year students prepare a formal Dissertation Proposal that will be presented before the student's dissertation research committee at a formal dissertation proposal defense. Each student should work closely with his/ her adviser on the preparation of the dissertation proposal.

  • Proposal format: Students should be prepared to adapt the form of the proposal to the differing requirements of various funding agencies, and should bear in mind that preparation of an acceptable proposal is time-consuming for both students and faculty.
  • Proposal deadline: The proposal should be started during the second year and completed early in the third year of graduate work because of funding agency deadlines, which cluster in October to early January. Special care should be taken with this requirement since the funding of fieldwork depends almost entirely on the quality of the proposal.  

Paper and Proposal Evaluation

Papers will be evaluated according to the degree to which they:

  • Demonstrate graduate level writing skills, including structural coherence
  • Have a clear analytic argument that is well‐substantiated
  • Demonstrate command of a body of literature related to the proposed dissertation project
  • Evidence an accurate understanding of scholarly arguments
  • Contain rigorous treatment of scholarly sources, data, their connections, and their implications
  • Show promise of theoretical/ethnographic innovation or intervention
Your advisor and/or your committee will give you comments on the very first draft of your paper. This phase will focus on the broader issues and your professors will provide you with feedback on the research you need to do to complete your paper. Your entire committee will give you comments on the next‐to‐final draft. This phase focuses on remaining issues that are often smaller in scope and significance. Your committee expects a complete draft, properly formatted, referenced, and proofread, for this next‐to‐final draft.

It is reasonable to expect members of your committee to:

  • Read through both drafts carefully
  • Give you comments, either orally or in writing
  • Make suggestions for improving the paper in terms of structure, content etc.
  • Make suggestions for further reading

It is not reasonable to expect members of your Committee to:

  • Read and comment at short notice (less than a week)
  • Give you a detailed check‐list of everything you must do
  • Give you a complete list of everything you need to read
  • Copy‐edit and/or proof‐read the paper

Your papers will be evaluated by your committee at the June faculty meeting and will be given one of the following assessments: pass, no pass, pass after acceptable rewrite, acceptable for terminal M.A.

 “Pass”: This evaluation permits a student to continue in the Ph.D. program. The student is eligible, but not guaranteed, financial aid.

 “Pass after acceptable rewrite”: This evaluation permits a student to continue course work in the Ph.D. program, but the student will not be eligible for advancement to candidacy until the paper is rewritten and accepted by the student’s committee. After the committee accepts the paper/proposal, the student will be eligible for financial aid.

“Acceptable for terminal M.A.”: (Second‐year Research Paper): This evaluation means that the quality of the student’s work meets the Department’s standards for the Master’s Degree, but is not sufficiently high quality to permit the student to continue in the Ph.D. program. The student may be eligible for a Master’s Degree if all other requirements are met.

“No pass”: This evaluation means that the quality of the student’s work meets neither the standards required of students continuing in the Ph.D. program, nor the standards required for the Master’s Degree. The student will not be permitted to continue in the Department, nor will he/she receive a Master’s Degree, regardless of the student’s grade‐point average.