During studies in Vilnius University, Institute of International Relations and Political Science students have to prepare various types of written assignments: essays, research papers, and final thesis.
ESSAY is a paper of a descriptive-analytical kind, fitting the requirements of a scientific work. Its aim is to form analytical skills and reassert the knowledge gained throughout the course. Course syllabus should state whether students are required to write an essay or not. Appropriate length of an essay is in between 15 thousand and 17 thousand symbols (spaces and footnotes included). The deadline of submitting an essay is set by a course convener. The grade of an essay will form a part of the overall evaluation of student’s performance in a given course. Preparation of an essay equals 40 working hours of a student or 1 credit.
TERM PAPER should fit the requirements of a scientific paper, reveal analytical skills and abilities. Its aim is to apply knowledge acquired in various courses and deepen research skills. Required length of a term paper is in between 30 and 35 thousand symbols (spaces and footnotes included). The deadline of submitting a term paper is set by a course convener. The grade of a term paper will form a part of the overall evaluation of student’s performance in a given course. Preparation of a term paper equals 80 working hours of a student or 2 credits.
MASTER’S THESIS – should fit the requirements of a scientific paper, reveal analytical skills and abilities. A proper length of a thesis is from 100 thousand up to 120 thousand characters (spaces and footnotes included). Preparation is considered to take 810-950 working hours and equals – 20 ECTS. Master’s thesis is prepared under a tutor’s supervision, individual consultations and during Master’s seminars. After fulfilling the requirements of a study program and successfully defending a thesis a student is awarded with a Master’s degree.
General structure of written assignments includes:
Front page (affix No. 1)
Index – a list of chapters sections and subsections. Everything has to be numbered in Arabic. While numbering do not take into account the introduction, summary, conclusions, bibliography and affixes.
Introduction – should provide clearly defined object of the research, review of the literature, problems of the thesis, goals and aims of the research, issues analyzed, hypothesis, variables, methods used.
Research part – composed from the description of the theoretical background or presentation of the results of the scientific research. This part of the paper should have chapters, preferably divided into subchapters/subsections, etc. Every chapter should end with a short conclusion.
Conclusions (recommendations) – most important conclusions of a paper as well as recommendations should be presented here. An evaluation of the theoretical and empirical importance of the paper, questions or guidelines for the future investigation should also be provided. A student should not repeat conclusions of separate articles/chapters, though assessment of the theoretical background of the analysis or confirmation/refutation of the hypothesis is essential.
List of Literature – list of quoted or referenced sources (affix No. 2)
Annex (optional part) provides additional information (for example, various statistics, results of sociological researches, tables, maps, pictures, etc.)
Besides adhering to a general structure of written assignments a Master’s thesis should also contain:
A flyleaf (to be included after a front page) (affix No. 3)
Bibliographical entry (to be included after a flyleaf) (affix No. 4)
Summaries in English and Lithuanian (to be included at the end of a thesis). Their length should not exceed 5000 characters each. A student should state the subject of the thesis, its problem, goals and aims of the research, hypothesis and issues analyzed. The most important conclusions, recommendations and suggestions should also be provided.
General form requirements for written assignments:
Quoting, citations and references must be accordingly formatted (affix No. 2)
Written assignments have to be written in a grammatically correct scientific language.
Text should be typed, using 12th pt Times New Roman font and 1.5 spacing between the lines.
The text should be printed on A4 form of sheets.
Written assignments – essays and term papers are to be prepared during a semester, under the supervision of a lecturer. Topics should be provided by or consulted with a lecturer, who can also ask to present essays orally or defend them in public. Consultations during the seminars are also available. Deadlines of submitting written assignments are set by course conveners and must be met precisely.
Preparation order of Master’s theses
Master’s theses are prepared under a tutor’s supervision and participation in Master’s seminars. The goal of Master’s seminars is to develop research skills of students and provide assistance in their preparation of Master’s theses. In order to achieve these goals students’ work in Master’s seminars comprises individual research work; work with a tutor as well as in the group of students and lecturers throughout the second and third semesters of Master’s studies.
Master’s seminars are organized weekly, and led by a lecturer of Master’s seminar who gives and evaluates assignments aiding students to develop their thesis.
The requirements for the Master’s seminars
Preparation order of Master’s thesis
Master’s thesis is prepared under a tutor’s supervision and participation in Master’s seminars. The goal of Master’s seminars is to develop research skills of students and provide assistance in their preparation of Master’s thesis. In order to achieve these goals students’ work in Master’s seminars comprise individual research work; work with a tutor as well as in the group of students and lecturers throughout the second and third semesters of Master’s studies.
Master’s seminars are organized, and led by a lecturer of Master’s seminar who gives and evaluates assignments which aim aid to prepare their thesis.
The requirements for the Master’s seminars
During Master’s seminars a student must:
1) choose a tutor, he or she might have (if needed) a consultant as well;
2) choose a research topic;
3) Until the 1st December inform the tutor of Master‘s seminars about the choices;
4) Topics are discussed in the studies committees and approved by the director of the institute. If the topic has been rejected, a student must provide new one by the 25th of January taking into consideration the comments that were made;
5) Provide the review of the literature about the chosen object (pointing out the research problems of the main works, questions, the theoretical basics of the analysis, the conclusions, etc.);
6) Master’s students have to determine the main problem of their research work, evaluate its originality and relevance (for science, society or a target group) on the base of the conducted literature review (having identified unexplored problems, the gaps of other authors, etc.).
7) The approved title of a Master’s thesis following the request of the student can be corrected until the 1st of December in the third semester;
8) In case student want to change the research topic, he or she has to write a request to the Institute‘s director and studies committee. It has to be signed by the tutor of the research project.
To facilitate this, Master’s seminars during the first semester of studies will cover topics of developing a research design, using appropriate research methods and adhering to the Methodical Requirements.
Deadlines of essays and term-papers are set by course conveners and stated in the course outline.
The deadline for Master’s thesis is 10th of January.
Students should give in the papers in room 201 from 8 A.M. till 5 P.M. (Mondays-Thursdays) and on from 8 A.M. till 4 P.M. on Fridays (the lunch break is from 12 to 1 P.M.). Students are also allowed to submit their written assignments or thesis before the deadline.
If a student submits a written assignment or thesis after the deadline it will not be accepted unless a student was ill (in that case a medical transcript has to be presented) or on a mission/trip which was confirmed by the Institute.
Master’s thesis should be presented in four different copies. To be accepted all copies have to be signed by a tutor.
Defence of essays and term papers- normally is not required. However, if the professor has certain doubts or questions he may organize a public defence of the paper during the examination session.
Defence of the Master’s thesis
Master’s theses are defended in public during the winter exam session in the sitting of the Commission of the Defence of Master’s Theses with the participation of at least half of its members. Certain time limits have to be followed: the defence should not exceed 40 minutes, 15 of which are for the presentation of the thesis itself. Before the defence a reviewer is appointed who has to present his review to the author of the thesis at least one day before the defence. During the defence author of the thesis receives questions concerning his/her research subject. The Commission evaluates Master’s thesis using a 10-grade system following the criteria of the evaluation of Master’s thesis provided in these methodological requirements. Presentation of the work, relevant answers to the questions and critical remarks are also considered. Decisions about the evaluation of the thesis are made on the day of the defence in the closed sitting of the Commission. The appeals concerning the evaluation of Master’s theses are not accepted.
Evaluation of essays and term papers is a part of the overall evaluation of the course. They are graded by course conveners.
Requirements for essays and term-papers:
1. Clearly formulated object and goal of the research.
2. Clearly defined, relevant problem.
3. Well reasoned results of the research.
4. Valid conclusions.
5. List of the literature provided.
Evaluation criteria for essays and term-papers:
1. Clear structure, conclusions, and overall coherence of the paper.
2. Depth of analysis and substantive thinking.
3. Proper scientific language and adequate use of terminology.
4. Form of the paper (accordance to the methodological requirements).
Grade can be reduced if:
1. The paper does not fit the form requirements.
2. The paper contains word by word quoting of authors without identifying them in the bibliography
3. The paper contains word by word quoting which is not put in the quotation-marks, even if authors of the quotes are identified in bibliography.
4. The paper contains rephrased thoughts of other authors, who are not identified in bibliography.
5. References are not clear or misleading.
A paper which is fully or partly (more than one third of its volume) written by compiling other authors’ texts or their rephrased thoughts is also considered as not fitting form requirements. It is considered to be a compilation and is evaluated negatively.
If the evaluation is negative, the overall assessment for the course is also negative.
The criteria of the evaluation of Master’s theses
The reviews of Master’s theses are prepared and the theses are evaluated following these criteria:
• Accordance with the requirements of the form (The appropriateness of the scope, the accordance with the requirements for structure, balancing of the structural parts, accordance of the titles of the parts with the text, valuable use of the pictures and the tables, presentation of questionnaires, list of the interviewees, statistical data, usage of scientific and correct language, appropriateness of style, etc.);
• Appropriateness of the object of the thesis, its problem, goals and tasks of the research, questions explored, hypotheses, goals, variables, nature and methods of the research (i.e. clear definition and feasibility of the object, the research problem, the explored questions and the variables; as well as accordance among problems, questions, variables; originality and relevance of work);
• The basis of the analysis (i.e. Usage of the basis of the analysis, its definition, appropriateness and application in the research);
• The research part (Accordance of the research part with the introduction, analytical depth of the research, scope of the list of literature, usage of the newest literature, scope and depth of empirical data, clarity and legitimacy of research results, coherence of cause-effect connection, legitimacy and logic of the arguments, etc.);
• The conclusions (and recommendations) (Clarity of the conclusions, their accordance with the research results, evaluation of the theoretical and/or the empiric value of the theses, provision of proposals and recommendations, the submission of questions for the future research, etc.)
Every paper should be prepared individually and independently. In case of cheating or plagiarizing students can and will be expelled from the IIRPS.
Every written assignment has to contain a confirmation, stating that it has been prepared independently and autonomously (affix No.5).
In the confirmation the student affirms that:
1. He is the author of submitted essay/paper/thesis, which has never been presented for any other course and has never been used in another educational institution, neither in Lithuania, or abroad.
2. A full bibliographical list is provided and no unmentioned sources were used.
A written assignment is considered to be a plagiarism, when:
1. Is written by another author (contains 2 paragraphs or 1 page without a clear reference/quotation)
2. Violates specific copyrights
3. Has been already used for other courses or other universities/academies/other learning institutions
Methodological requirements for papers of the Institute of International Relations and Political Science of Vilnius University were approved by the Council on July 3, 2015. (Protocol No. T-215-12) and are valid since September 1, 2015.