The Stanford Sociology Doctoral Program: Second Year Paper


The second year paper is often the first major piece of original research that students complete. The second year paper is a requirement of all students and is submitted at the end of the second year in residency. Reviewed by faculty readers, this milestone is key to successful advancement to candidacy. For many students, the second year paper is the foundation for their first sole authored publication.

Any subject of sociological relevance is acceptable as a topic and the paper may address theoretical, empirical, or methodological issues. Whatever the format, emphasis is on clarity, logical rigor, and originality. Students may choose to rewrite a paper prepared for a course or work carried out in conjunction with a research assistantship. A draft of the paper is due on April 1st. The final version of the paper is due May 15th.

Reading Committee

A two-faculty committee that includes the primary adviser evaluates the paper. Although the reading committee is usually comprised of two regular faculty members in the department, emeritus and other faculty outside of the department may serve as a committee member with prior approval. The chair of the Graduate Studies Committee must approve all proposed committees. The reading committee form is due to the graduate student services office on December 1st.

Back to top

What happens next?

Following submission of the completed paper, the student is required to schedule a meeting with members of their reading committee. At this time, the readers will provide verbal and written feedback that speaks to:

  • Whether the paper is publishable and whether the student should therefore invest in attempting to publish it; and
  • What types of revisions, insofar as the paper is publishable, that the student should be pursuing to prepare the paper for publication.
  • The review may be written jointly or individually. Comments are shared with the Director of Graduate Studies and written feedback goes in the student’s academic file.

Back to top