The Master's Paper
The master’s paper is designed to provide a structured research experience of limited scope that covers the main elements of research, including selecting a research problem, reviewing current knowledge in the field, generating hypotheses or key points that require exploration, examining these hypotheses or key points with evidence, and drawing conclusions. The master’s paper should be the quality and length of a published paper in a major sociology journal. The scope, structure, quality, and tone of a master’s paper should resemble a published paper in a major sociology journal. However, the master’s paper usually contains a more extensive literature review and a more detailed discussion of methodology than would a typical journal article (typically 30-35 pages of text, along with a modest number of tables, figures, and references). For some areas of research the paper may need to be longer but ordinarily should not exceed 50-60 pages of text.
The master’s paper must be approved by a thesis committee that consists of two faculty members in the Sociology Department selected by the student, one of whom serves as the supervisor of the paper and the second as the reader. With prior permission from the Graduate Committee, the second reader may have a faculty appointment in another department at Brown. The thesis committee must be selected by the end of the second semester of graduate study. A final draft of the paper must be submitted to the thesis committee by the beginning of semester 4 of graduate study (end of January of the second year). A final approved and signed version must be submitted by April 1st to the department’s student affairs coordinator. Failure to meet these deadlines may jeopardize consideration for good standing.