The fall junior paper is completed as part of a junior workshop, in which students receive group instruction and individual advising. The junior paper in the spring term is written under the supervision of a faculty adviser.
Junior workshops are research-oriented workshops conducted in the fall semester. Workshops are led by a faculty member and structured around a particular topic in political analysis. The faculty member provides the workshop participants -- a small group of juniors whose research interests focus on areas related to the workshop's topic -- with guidance in selecting a topic, organizing and conducting research, and preparing drafts.
Workshops typically meet three or four times at the beginning of the semester to orient students to a subject area and to help them define their paper topics. The middle part of the semester is spent writing the paper and consulting with the workshop leader on an individual basis. During this period there are specialized "skills workshops" (on interviewing and data collection) that students are encouraged to attend. At the end of the workshop, students are often asked to present their rough drafts to other workshop members for comment and suggested revision.
A Junior Paper written in the Department of Politics is normally an essay of 20 to 35 double-spaced pages that is clearly focused on one or a few related political questions, problems, or issues.
The Junior Paper is not a passive review of the existing literature, nor a summary of facts, nor a long editorial. It presents a critical and creative analysis of a question, problem, or issue. A presentation of the student's own well-reasoned views is an essential part of this exercise. Policy recommendations are welcome but not required. The range of subjects suitable for such essays is very wide. Most projects involve the following elements: defining a significant question, formulating a hypothesis, gathering and assessing evidence, reviewing critically the work of others on this subject, evaluating alternative methods of inquiry, critically reviewing one's own arguments, and relating one's findings and conclusions to a larger political context of issues.
Students must obtain a passing grade in each of the two terms of junior independent work and an average of C or above (without rounding) in these two terms. (If the average of the Fall and Spring JPs is below a C, a third junior paper is required before entering the senior year with a grade that brings the average to a C or better.)
It is common, but by no means required, for junior paper topics, especially in the spring term, to serve as starting points for a senior thesis. Coordinating one or both junior papers and the senior thesis can enrich the sophistication of the senior project, but care should be taken, and advice should be sought before and during preparation of the projects, to ensure that each project meets requirements.
Policies on advisers and double-credit
- Ordinarily, both semesters of a student's Junior Independent Work may not be supervised by the same faculty member. On agreement of the Director of Undergraduate Studies, exceptions may be granted.
- Special permission is required to submit the same paper both for purposes of Junior Independent Work and for a course. Both the Director of Undergraduate Studies and all instructors involved must give their consent in writing. In cases where the course instructor is also the student's junior advisor, it may be required that the paper be second-read by another faculty member of the Department.
- One term of a student's work may be supervised by a faculty member outside the Department. The Director of Undergraduate Studies must first approve the outside advisor before the deadline for submitting the name of the JP advisor. Further, the Director of Undergraduate Studies for Junior Independent Work may require a second reading by a Politics faculty member for a paper supervised outside of the Department. If there is a difference in assigned grades, the two grades will be reconciled according to the procedures for grading senior theses.
Policies on paper drafts
Students are strongly urged to submit rough drafts of their junior papers to their independent work advisers, particularly in the fall semester. Comments received on a first draft may be crucial to the project's success.
The rough draft deadlines set by the Department are:
- For the Fall Junior Paper, the Monday after Thanksgiving
- For the Spring Junior Paper, the last Friday in March
Advisers are under no obligation to give detailed comments on preliminary versions of junior papers if they are submitted after the deadline.