Specialty Review Paper (MSGP Program)

Updated September 2015

Students in the MSGP program have 2 options for their major milestone project. Although a thesis project would provide the best research experience, some students opt to complete a Specialty Review Paper (SRP). Many aspects of the process for the SRP are identical to the thesis. Specifically, students must assemble a committee of 3 faculty members, including a major professor, and at least one faculty member from a different program as the major professor (same policy that guides the construction of thesis committees). The MSGP director may serve as a committee member but this is not required. The SRP is a scholarly review paper that is aimed at addressing a particular gap in the literature in a certain area. The paper of the exam needs to be in the form of a coherent manuscript that both reviews and critiques the literature within a content area. While there is no specific length requirement, generally these papers will be approximately 30 pages (of text) in length. It should be comprehensive enough to do justice to the topic at hand. References (in APA style) should be comprehensive enough to indicate that the student has considered the major related research.

The student decides on a topic for the specialty review paper through discussion with his/her major professor, and generally will select a topic in which the major professor has expertise. It is the student's responsibility to meet with the major professor to seek guidance throughout the process of reviewing the literature, and writing and editing the paper.

At the proposal stage, after developing an idea with the major professor, the student will provide an outline of the proposed review paper to their SRP committee members. At the proposal meeting, committee members will offer input and feedback about the direction of the paper. At the end of the proposal meeting, the committee should reach an agreement and the student should have a clear sense of what the committee is expecting for the final paper.
It will be the student's responsibility to review the literature, to write this manuscript and to seek input from his/her major professor throughout the process. After the major professor deems the paper ready for the defense, the student should distribute the final paper to committee members and schedule the defense. The student should follow department guidelines related to scheduling the defense meeting.

At the defense meeting, the student will present a summary of their paper, and then the floor will be open for questions or comments. Committee members may suggest edits to the paper or recommend that another draft is necessary. The student will be considered to have passed the SRP defense when the committee members are satisfied.

The student must complete revisions of work within one month (or a specific time agreed upon by the student and committee at the defense meeting) and their final document must be approved by the major professor within 2 months if further revision is required. Committee members will indicate if they would like to review the final product or to defer to the major professor.