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Major Research Paper Guidelines

MA Program in Immigration & Settlement Studies Major Research Paper Guidelines

This document outlines the requirements, procedures, and timelines for successfully completing the Master’s Major Research Paper (MRP). You will find in Part 1 guidance on the scholarly development of a MRP. Part 2 comprises of the timelines, the stylistic requirements of a MRP, and the MRP completion requirements.

The Major Research Paper allows students to conduct specialized study of a topic related to immigration and settlement. It is the longest, most in-depth paper you will write in our program, and should therefore be on a subject of great interest to you. The range of acceptable research topics and methodologies is broad. Your MRP topic may be academic or applied in nature. To date in our program, most MRPs written in our program have been academic in focus. Most MRPs completed by graduates are available to read in the Ryerson Library. A list of previous MRP topics is available from the program’s web site.

Papers with an academic focus may address an immigration and/or settlement topic from any disciplinary or inter-/multidisciplinary perspective in an advanced, scholarly fashion. By way of illustration, students can conduct research on a wide range of subjects, including: immigrants and the economy; the history of a particular immigrant community; immigrant identity(ies); immigration and citizenship policies; intersections of immigrant status related to factors such as race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, language, age and class; immigrant civic participation; immigrant culture and art; immigrant neighbourhoods; immigrant families; push and pull factors in global migration; etc. Typically, MRPs in this category strive to explore ‘why’ questions, or ‘to what extent’ questions. They are analytical, offering explanation, not simply descriptive.

Papers in the applied category may engage any issue related to immigration and/or settlement in a policy, service-delivery or advocacy context. By way of illustration, students may write an applied paper on subjects such as: evaluating government or agency programs; developing a plan for a service agency to improve outreach to under-serviced newcomer communities; strengthening the advocacy capacity of immigrant communities; revising government policy related to immigration and settlement. Typically, MRPs in this category strive to explore ‘how’ questions.

Regardless of your topic, the key to a successful MRP is developing a tight, clear focus for your research. You should be able to identify a few key questions that are the focus of your MRP. Be clear on the scope or boundaries of your research. And don’t panic if this takes a while to develop. Typically this is an evolving process that entails your coursework in the Research Methods course and conversations you may have with course instructors, the program director, your student advisor and ultimately your MRP Supervisor. While the vast majority of previous MRPs dealt with immigration and settlement issues in Canada, the MRP can involve a study of any country.

Unlike a Master’s Thesis, an MRP need not involve original research. That is, an MRP may be based on secondary sources such as published scholarly and media literature. Thus, the MRP can take the form of a critical review of the literature in a field, or the exploration or synthesis of various perspectives on a topic. However, most MRPs completed to date have involved original, primary research in addition to review of existing scholarly writing on a subject. Thus, an MRP can be based on government documents, agency documents or a range of human subject research including surveys, interviews and focus groups. Where such research with human subjects is planned, ethics review approval is required in advance. The process of getting the University’s Ethics Review Board approval will be covered in the Research Methods course. Note that ethics review applications take time to process – typically about six weeks so it is wise for students to submit their application at least a month and a half before they intend to begin their human subject research.

Normally, the MRP should be between 40 and 60 double-spaced pages in length. The text must be carefully edited for style and grammar. If you are not a native English speaker, you may consult professional editing services. The contents of the MRP, however, must be your own. The MRP will be written under the guidance of a faculty member affiliated to the ISS program, and evaluated by the Supervisor and a second (faculty) reader. A student should consult with his/her MRP Supervisor if the length of the MRP is going to exceed the maximum page limit suggested here.

Students will write their MRP under the guidance of a faculty Supervisor. Students are responsible for approaching/selecting a Supervisor, who must be a member of the University’s graduate faculty (i.e. the Yeates School of Graduate Studies).

The MRP Supervisor’s responsibilities include:

1.2.1.  Approving the final Research Proposal that guides your MRP.

Students will typically have prepared an MRP proposal in their Research Methods course. However it is the Supervisor’s responsibility to approve the final proposal that will serve as the basis for MRP work. Students should expect to make some modification to the proposal submitted to the Research Methods course, as required by the Supervisor. Once the proposal has been approved, the Supervisor or the student will send a copy of the completed and signed MRP Proposal Approval Form (enclosed below) to the Program Administrator. For students intending to complete the program in the Spring/Summer term, in time for Fall graduation, the proposal should be approved no later than the last working day in April.

Some students may progress in the program in a different pace. Refer to Part 2: Table A and Table B for the appropriate set of time lines.

1.2.2.  Guiding the student’s research/writing and requiring revisions as necessary.

Students should recognize that producing multiple drafts is a normal and expected aspect of writing an MRP. This reflects the fundamental difference between writing an MRP and writing a course essay. In a course, the instructor’s comments reach students after the paper has been submitted. With an MRP or thesis, the Supervisor is guiding the student to produce the strongest possible academic work before it is submitted for evaluation. Typically the Supervisor and student will hold regular meetings, and be in email contact. The Supervisor will establish the schedule of contact with the student.

1.2.3.  Declaring a completed draft ready for Oral Review 

(see more on this in the MRP Oral Review section below). This is the Supervisor’s determination that no further significant revisions to the MRP may be required.

1.2.4.  Determining, in consultation with the student and/or the Program Director, which faculty member will serve as Second Reader of the MRP.

1.2.5.  Establishing the time and location of the MRP Oral Review.

This will be done in consultation with the student and Second Reader. Optimally, this Review should have been held before the last working day of August for students who wish to graduate in the fall convocation.

1.2.6.  Based on the Oral Review, advising the student of any revisions required to the MRP.

Typically, minorrevisions will be required at this stage. Upon the student’s completion of these revisions, the Supervisor will inform the program office that all required or recommended corrections have been completed by the student (use the MRP Supervisor and Second Reader Report form available in this document).

 

Every student will have a faculty Supervisor for their MRP. There are various ways for students to secure a Supervisor. The student’s Faculty Advisor, Course Instructors and Program Director may assist students to identify potential Supervisors. There are over sixty Ryerson faculty members affiliated with our program. Most have had experience as Supervisor and/or Second Reader. On the ISS affiliated faculty page, students will find information about each faculty member’s research interests, courses taught, and/or publications.

Reviewing ALL faculty profiles on the website is the best way to identify potential Supervisors for your MRP. The Supervisor is the primary academic mentor and assessor of the student’s MRP.

Full-time students who will be completing the MRP in the Spring/Summer term (May-August) should have a MRP Supervisor confirmed not later than the last working day of March. Students who will complete the MRP in the Fall term (ending December) or Winter term, refer to “Table B” in this document for the appropriate time-line to finalize on the search of a MRP Supervisor.

We are fortunate to have many capable and experienced supervising faculty attached to our program. We do not recommend that a student approaches any faculty to serve as a MRP Supervisor until the student has produced a well-organized statement of the research interest and a review of the existing literature on the topic. These would typically be accomplished in the Research Methods course by late February. When you approach a faculty member, it would be helpful for you to present them with:

a) a Title for your MRP;

b) a brief one paragraph description of your topic; and

c) if requested by faculty, your literature review from the Research Methods course.

The faculty member and student must both be agreeable to the supervisory match.

Over the Winter term there will be either one larger workshop or a series of smaller special workshop sessions to support students in their MRP research and writing, and to prepare for the Oral Review. The workshops will cover topics such as Integrating Theory into Your MRP, Preparing for Your MRP Oral Review, or How to Publish from your MRP. A schedule of the workshop(s) will be or has been distributed, and students are strongly encouraged to attend. The Workshop(s) will likely be scheduled for evenings subject to the availability of classrooms and faculty members responsible for the workshop(s).

A student will be formally enrolled in the MRP Milestone in RAMSS by the Program Administrator upon receipt an approved MRP Proposal Approval Form. The Form must be signed by the MRP Supervisor and the student.

The “MRP milestone – In Progress” appears in a student’s on-line unofficial academic transcript in RAMSS after he/she has been formally enrolled in the Milestone. The status of the milestone will be updated upon the completion of the MRP.

The student and Supervisor will confer on the selection of a Second Reader, who will be a member of the University’s graduate faculty (refer to the Yeates School of Graduate Studies’ google sheetmembership list, external link).


The Second Reader represents an additional academic review of the student’s work. However the Second Reader is not a co-supervisor. The timing of the Second Reader’s involvement is best determined by the Supervisor. In most instances to date, the Second Reader has been asked to read an MRP only when the Supervisor has deemed a completed draft satisfactory. Alternately, it may be agreed to have the Second Reader involved in reviewing earlier drafts. The Second Reader may recommend revisions to the MRP, and must agree that it is ready for Oral Review, before such a session may be scheduled. Based on the MRP Oral review discussion, both the Second Reader and Supervisor may identify required additional revisions to the MRP before it is approved.


In the rare event that the Supervisor and Second Reader disagree on whether the MRP is ready for Oral Review, the Supervisor may opt to hold a more formal MRP Oral Examination (following Yeates School of Graduate Studies guidelines), with the Program Director serving as Examination Committee Chair.


Generally, a MRP Second Reader should be identified not less than a month before the date of the Oral Review. The Second Reader should be confirmed by the FIRST working day in August for MRPs to be completed in the S/S term.

The Oral Review is the final stage of the student’s work. Students should complete the oral review before the end of the last term of program registration. For students whose last term of program registration is in Spring/Summer, they should complete the MRP in time for an oral review to take place before August 31 (see Part 2: Table A). For students whose last term of program registration is in the Fall term (September- December) or Winter term (January-April) they should refer to the timelines outlined in Part 2: Table B of this document.

Before the Oral Review date, the student is responsible for delivering a hard copy of the MRP to the Supervisor and Second Reader. It is suggested that this is done two weeks prior to Oral Review date. The Oral Review is an informal discussion of the MRP, held in the Supervisor’s office or any suitable meeting room. Typically this session will last 45-60 minutes. It will begin with a brief (about 10-20 minutes) presentation by the student, followed by questions from the MRP Supervisor and the Second Reader. This Review is an opportunity for the student to engage in a focused, sophisticated discussion of his/her research with two faculty members. This is a valuable graduate studies learning experience.
Students are advised to bring a hard-copy of the “MRP Faculty Supervisor and Second Reader Report Form” to the oral review meeting. The form is available in this document and is downloadable on the program’s web site (Forms & Guidelines – ISS Program Forms and Guidelines).


Following the Oral Review, the student should expect to be required to make some revisions to the MRP. These will be communicated to the student – and reviewed -- by the Faculty Supervisor. The Supervisor will confirm that all final revisions arising from the Oral Review have been completed by signing the MRP Supervisor and Second Reader Report and forwarding it to the Program Administrator. This Report must be received by the Program Administrator before the student’s MRP (pdf) may be accepted to clear the graduation requirements. Students who are unable to clear the requirements to graduate before the published deadline will be enrolled in the program and is responsible for paying the program fees.

The MRP is graded pass/fail. No letter grades are assigned in this course. Assignment of the grade in the “MRP Supervisor and Second Reader Report” form will be jointly determined by the Supervisor and Second Reader.

Graduate students must maintain continuous registration and pay program fees, in every term, including the term in which the completion of degree requirements is anticipated. Students, who complete all degree requirements before the last date to withdraw, may drop their registration during that term. Consequently the final date to complete the degree requirements is the end of the previous term. For Convocation purposes, the final date for submission of the MRP to the program is specified in Tables A and B of this document.

Completing the degree requirements of this program means successful completion of the course requirements of this program and the MRP requirements.

Successful completion of the MRP requirements includes:

  • The MRP Supervisor and Second Reader Report is completed and signed by the MRP Faculty Supervisor and the Second Reader. The Report must be received by the Program Administrator before a student may submit the MRP to clear the graduation requirements. The form is available in this document.
  • The MRP is correctly formatted. The responsibility of submitting a correctly formatted MRP rests solely on the student. The Program Administrator is unable to clear a student’s graduation requirements if there is any formatting issue. Refer to Part 2.2 of this document for the URL of the Graduate Studies thesis formatting guidelines.
  • Submission of a MRP (pdf) to iss@ryerson.ca. The naming convention of the file is: yyyy_Lastname, Firstname.pdf (yyyy= year of graduation).

All the above items must be completed before the deadline to clear graduation requirements published online in the YSGS Significant Dates. Students who are unable to clear the requirements on time to graduate will be enrolled in the program in the following term if the maximum term of enrollment is not yet reached and is responsible for paying the program fees for the term in which they are enrolled.

Reality Check

Students should not be intimidated or overwhelmed by these MRP requirements and guidelines. This is your opportunity to work closely with a faculty member on a topic of interest to you. The Oral Review is an opportunity to discuss your research with faculty who have read your work closely.

Enjoy your MRP research and writing.

Table A : For students who intend to complete the MRP in the Spring/Summer Term (ending August 31st) and to graduate in the fall term ceremony.

Completing the MRP in May-August

Last Term of Program Registration Spring/Summer Term
Confirmation of a MRP Supervisor March 31 or the last working day in March
Submission of a MRP Proposal Approval Form
The form must be signed by the MRP Supervisor and the student. Refer to the later part of this document for the form.
April 30 or the last work day in April
Apply to Graduate in the Fall convocation in RAMSS.
Attending the graduation ceremony is optional but applying to graduation is mandatory. The degree conferred date will not be indicated in a student’s academic transcript if a student does not apply to graduate.
Apply on line in RAMSS.
Consult the online YSGS Significant Dates for the date when application begins and ends.
Visit the Convocation website for all matters related to the convocation.
Final draft of the MRP to the Supervisor. Before the end of July.
Finding a MRP Second Reader First week of August (or before).
Getting feedback from the PA on the MRP format. Not later than August 15th. Request
after this date may not be accommodated.
MRP Oral Review
The Program discourages any oral review being held less than ten days before the final date to clear the graduate requirements.
The deadline to clear the degree requirements to graduate established by YSGS is non-negotiable.
Completed by August 31st (or the last working date in August).
Completing the degree requirements to graduate including the submission of the MRP (see items listed in section 1.9 of this document) Refer to YSGS Significant Dates in the “Fall term” list.

Table B: For students who intend to complete the MRP in the Fall term (Oct-Dec) or the Winter term (Jan-Apr), and to graduate in the Spring ceremony

Completing the MRP in Fall or Winter

Last term of program registration Fall term Sept-Dec  Winter term Jan-Apr
Confirmation of a MRP Supervisor
August 31
Or before the Fall term begins
December 15
Or before the Winter term begins
MRP Proposal Approval Form approved and submitted to the Program Administrator August 31
Or before the Fall term begins
December 15
Or before the Winter term begins
MRP final draft to the MRP Supervisor

Students must consult with the MRP Supervisor to establish a target date to submit a final draft
Not less than 4 weeks before the oral review.
Students must take into account that the Fall term ends earlier due to the year-end break.
Not less than 4 weeks before the oral review.
Students must take into account that the Fall term ends earlier due to the year-end break.
Finding a Second Reader Not less than 4 weeks before the date of the Oral Review Not less than 4 weeks before the date of the Oral Review
MRP Oral Review completion

NOT less than 2 weeks before the final date to clear graduation requirements published in the YSGS Significant Dates.
Not less than 2 weeks before the final date to clear graduation requirements published in the Winter term list of dates Not less than 2 weeks before the final date to clear graduation requirements published in the Spring/Summer term list of dates.
Deadline to clear graduation requirements.

Refer to section 1.9 in Part 1 of this document for a list of items that are required to complete the degree requirements.
Consult the most up- to-date YSGS Significant dates in the Winter term’s dates. Consult the most up- to-date YSGS Significant dates in the S/S term’s dates.
Apply to graduate in the Spring Convocation in RAMSS

Attending the graduation ceremony is optional but applying to graduate in the last term of study is mandatory. The degree conferred date will not be indicated in the student’s academic transcript if a student does not apply to graduate.
Consult the online YSGS Significant Dates for the date when application begins and ends.
Visit the Convocation web site for all matters related to the convocation.
Apply online in RAMSS.
Consult the online YSGS Significant Dates for the date when application begins and ends.
Visit the Convocation web site for all matters related to the convocation.
Apply online in RAMSS.

The responsibility for submitting a MRP in the correct format rests solely with the author.

The formatting guidelines are published online in the Yeates School of Graduate Studies “PDF fileThesis, MRP and Dissertation Submission Requirements”. Please review the document in detail.

Request for Format Checking

Once the MRP has been approved by MRP Supervisor and Second Reader, student may forward a copy of the MRP for the brief final formatting review, specifically when it comes to formatting of the front matter. The Program Administrator will provide feedback based on the YSGS Thesis, MRP and Dissertation formatting guidelines. It is expected that student will submit as complete MRP as possible in terms of formatting by following the formatting guidelines.

PDF fileSample MRP title page

PDF fileSample Author's Declaration page

PDF fileSample Abstract page

Binding the MRP

If you would like to keep a professionally bound hard copy of your MRP for keep-sake, contact the RSU CopyRite, external link:

Located at: SCC-B03, Student Centre, 55 Gould Street telephone: 416-979-5264
email: copyrite@rsuonline.ca