Any program leading to the Master of Arts fosters the student’s transition into a profession. Students learn how to discuss ideas in a particular discipline as professionals among professionals. To attain this goal, graduate students routinely engage in research and writing where correct documentation of sources signifies much more than the avoidance of plagiarism. Research and writing about scholarly discoveries signal the graduate student’s membership in a professional community.
Thus research papers written for graduate courses will differ from those written for undergraduate courses. The graduate student’s research paper will sustain deeper analysis of a topic at greater length and with narrower focus than the undergraduate paper. Graduate research papers will employ a significant scope of sources that are current, authoritative, and recognized within a particular area of study. Additionally, the graduate research paper demonstrates the student’s ability to identify appropriate topics related to course material and to exercise independence in both research and writing.
Graduate-level papers will also demonstrate the student’s ability to document all sources accurately and to edit carefully for standard American English. Students should refer to The MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, 8th Edition (ISBN 978-1-60329-262-7), if they have questions about documentation, though some courses may ask students to follow the Chicago Manual of Style or the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association .
To prepare students for the level of research and writing required in graduate courses, professors incorporate into their classes instruction in bibliography and methodology appropriate to course content. Professors will assist students to access and learn how to access and evaluate scholarly materials. Professors may further provide rubrics or specific requirements about the nature and originality of the research and writing expected in fulfillment of a particular assignment.
For information on academic misconduct and plagiarism, see the Honor Code section of the Graduate Student Handbook.