Guidelines for the submission of independent work
Independent work is due no later than the date and time posted in our Important Dates page.
You may not submit independent work to your adviser for credit; it must be submitted following our instructions, which time-stamps and logs its arrival. Exceptions or extensions for independent work cannot be granted by an adviser; they must be approved by the Director of Undergraduate Studies in conjunction with your residential dean. Extensions are seldom granted except for serious, documented emergencies -- and in no case can extensions or exceptions violate the policies of the Office of the Dean of the College.
Remember that your independent work must be submitted with your name and date beneath the University’s Honor Code pledging your compliance.
Policies regarding work submitted late
In fairness to the vast majority of students who submit their work on time, the deadlines for independent work are precise: if the paper was due at 4:00 pm and is logged at 4:01 pm, late penalties will accrue. No exceptions will be made, even for last-minute printing problems; therefore, students are advised to allow adequate time for formatting, printing, binding, and any other potential sources of delay.
Junior papers must be submitted online by 4:00 pm on the due date. Gayle Brodsky will provide the submission link as the deadline nears.
No junior independent work can be submitted after the Politics deadline WITHOUT the approval of your residential dean AND the Director of Undergraduate Studies. IF late submissions are approved, 1/3 of a letter grade penalty (an A becomes an A-; an A- becomes a B+; and so on) will be applied for every 48 hours that the JP is late.
Senior theses are due in the department office (130 Corwin Hall, at the front desk) no later than 4:00 pm on the due date.
A thesis that is logged after 4:00 pm on the Politics due date, but within the first 48 hours after that deadline, is penalized 1/3 of a letter grade (an A becomes an A-; an A- becomes a B+; and so on). An additional penalty of 1/3 of a letter grade is imposed for each additional 48-hour delay or part thereof.
In the event this 48 hour window falls during the weekend, the thesis must be submitted via email to your advisor with a cc: to firstname.lastname@example.org by 4:00 pm on that particular day. The two bound copies of your thesis along with the one unbound copy must also be turned in to the Department by 10:00 am the following Monday morning.
Students may request that late penalties for senior theses be waived or reduced by the Departmental Undergraduate Committee. Such requests must be made in writing and submitted with any supporting materials to the Director of Undergraduate Studies within two days of the submission of the thesis.
Politics theses will not be accepted after the deadline established by the University for all theses, without approval from the Office of the Dean of the College.
This exam will be conducted online.
The penalties for late submission of the Comprehensive Examination are structured the same way, but accrue at the rate of 1/3 of a letter grade for every 24 hours or part thereof.
You will be asked to complete an evaluation for the Fall JP, Spring JP, Senior Thesis, and Comprehensive Examination. Your feedback is important to us. The Politics Department will not release your grades until you have completed an evaluation. NOTE: All evaluations are anonymous.
Standards for the grading of senior theses
The senior thesis is expected to make an original (or otherwise distinctive) contribution to knowledge in the student’s field, and it is important that the thesis be situated explicitly in relation to existing published literature.
A. A senior thesis in the A range will have elements of originality in its conception of its subject, in the evidence and reasoning it brings to bear on that subject, in the analytical techniques it employs, or in all of these. It will demonstrate attention to important works on the subject, and will indicate with care and precision the importance of its questions and conclusions for the understanding of politics. When appropriate, it will also anticipate and respond to major objections to its position. To merit an A, a senior thesis should be well written, developing its arguments in an orderly way and presenting its ideas clearly and crisply. Poor grammar and style and more than occasional misspellings have no place in an A senior thesis.
The mark of A+ should be reserved for senior theses that satisfy all of these criteria to a high degree. The mark of A- should be given a senior thesis which demonstrates intellectual creativity but does not meet in a fully satisfactory way some other requirement of senior theses in the A range.
B. A senior thesis in the B range is a less outstanding treatment of a significant subject. A well done case study which yields few lessons of general import, or a good critical review of a significant body of thought which does not go beyond previous work on the subject would merit a grade in this range. Like the A senior thesis, one in the B range should be grounded in substantial research appropriate to its objectives, but the latter will fall short in some way, as for instance by ignoring important sources or by failing to anticipate major objections. A senior thesis in the B range should be clearly written and logically organized.
A grade of B+ is appropriate for a sensibly conceived, well-written project that shows little originality or creativity. A B- is appropriate for well-conceived senior theses that have some significant flaw in execution or a number of less important shortcomings.
C. A senior thesis in the C range is a competent but not distinguished treatment of a significant subject. It will show evidence of substantial but not wholly adequate research. It may be flawed in one or two additional ways as well: the logic of an important argument may be faulty, the conclusions or findings may not be explored adequately, or the writing may be mediocre. An informative case study that offers little analysis or a review of some body of literature that generally gets things right but does little with them should be given a grade in the C range.
A grade of C+ should be given to the most informative of the senior theses in the C range; a C- to those that meet the basic requirements of the category but have several serious flaws.
D. To merit the grade of D, a senior thesis must treat a non-trivial subject in politics and must show evidence that the writer has some substantial knowledge about that subject. Beyond that little can be said in praise of a senior thesis in the D range.
F. A senior thesis that does not meet the minimal requirements for the grade of D should be given an F.
Standards for the grading of junior papers
The junior paper provides Politics majors with their first opportunity to engage in independent scholarly research. Junior papers are supposed to define a significant political question or problem and to answer it through a process of systematic research which may, depending on the nature of the topic selected, involve reading primary and secondary literature or original documents, interviewing, or compiling and analyzing statistical data.
PLEASE NOTE: While grades are based largely on the final paper, Fall workshop leaders can also take into account the student's attendance and participation in the workshop, and timeliness of drafts. This is at the discretion of the workshop leader. Each leader will clarify their policy at the first meeting or in their handouts to students.
In general, the same standards apply in faculty evaluations of the Junior Paper, with the understanding that the time available to work on each junior paper is much less than the time available for the senior thesis. This time constraint entails some modification of the attached guidelines. The Department views the two junior papers as "building blocks" toward the preparation of a strong senior thesis.
Expectations regarding written comments
Faculty advisers are expected to submit a grade and extensive comments on the written work of the students whom they advise.
In addition, when grading senior theses:
1. The first reader of a thesis will submit detailed written comments (which will be distributed to the student) and a tentative grade to the Undergraduate Program Administrator by the date required.
2. The second reader will submit brief written comments (which will be distributed to the student), summarizing the strengths and weaknesses of the thesis and noting the main criteria used in deciding the tentative grade and submit this information to the Undergraduate Program Administrator by the date required.
3. When the first and second reader of each thesis have reported their grade to the Undergraduate Program Administrator the following process takes place:
If the tentative grades of the first and second reader differ by one third of a group (+ or -), the grade of the faculty adviser becomes the final grade. This is referred to as Consensus.
If the first and second reader grades differ by more than a third of a group the readers will be informed. They should confer and agree upon a mutually acceptable grade. This is referred to as Conference. In the event that the grade is decided by conference, the faculty adviser will provide, at the student's request, an oral description of the considerations and judgments that affected the readers' final decision. The adviser will not be expected to describe the readers' deliberations, or the process by which they reached an agreement. Rather, the students will be informed about the basis of the agreement.
If the first and second readers cannot agree upon a mutually acceptable grade they should inform the Senior Independent Work Representative (normally the Director of Undergraduate Studies). A third reader will be appointed. When the third reader has given brief written comments and a tentative grade to the Senior Independent Work Representative, he or she will determine the grade. This is referred to as The Senior Representative. The Senior Independent Work Representative will provide, at the student's request, an oral description of the considerations and judgments that affected the final decision.