Guidance on First- and Second-Year Papers

All graduate students in Archaeology are expected to write a paper at the end of their first and their second years. The purpose of the paper is to:

  • Act as a focus and key intellectual milestone in the development of your ideas;
  • Help you articulate your thoughts as you move towards PhD research;
  • Gather together the insights you have gained over the academic year and apply them to your chosen topic;
  • Assist your Committee in monitoring and evaluating your progress.

There is no formal checklist of what should or should not be in the end of year paper; what follows are some informal guidelines.

First-year paper

The first-year paper should focus on research that helps you move your PhD forward. It should show evidence of wide reading. It should engage in detail with archaeological material, and contain substantive discussion of that material within an anthropological intellectual frame. The first year paper can be based upon library, field, or laboratory research, however, original insights from fieldwork/lab analysis are not required at this stage.

Second-year paper

The second-year paper should contain material of publishable quality, and should be prepared in a format and language suitable for publication in a peer-reviewed journal. It should engage in detail with archaeological material and include original insights into that material. It should show deep familiarity with relevant arguments from the theoretical and anthropological literature and an ability to apply these in a systematic and sustained fashion to your chosen PhD topic. The second year paper is based upon original field or laboratory archaeological research.


Both first and second year papers should be complete, clearly written, properly formatted and referenced. Paper should contain roughly 25 pages of text (double spaced, 12 point font). It should be accompanied by an abstract.  Illustrations should be included as relevant, and properly cross-referenced into the text.


  • Winter quarter: You should start discussing your paper with your adviser at the start of the quarter.
  • End of the winter quarter/beginning of the spring quarter: A first draft of the paper is due to your Committee. We recommended that you take an Independent Study with your adviser in the Winter Quarter to facilitate this.
  • Seventh week of spring quarter: A second and next-to-final draft of the paper is due to your Committee.
  • Ninth week of spring quarter: The final draft of the paper is typically due.

Your committee

You should take great care in choosing the members of your Committee. Make sure that you ask them well in advance of any deadline.

After you have submitted your first draft in the end of winter quarter/ beginning of spring quarter, the members of your Committee will read it and get comments back to you. This phase will focus on the broader issues and your Committee will provide you with feedback on the research you need to do in spring quarter to complete your paper. After the submission of the second draft, you will get feedback on remaining issues that are often smaller in scope and significance. Your Committee expects a complete draft, properly formatted, referenced, and proofread, for the second 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 proofread the paper.