The purpose of the writing assignment is to perform an in-depth analysis of the literature surrounding a certain topic or research field and to integrate it with your own perspective on the matter.
A writing assignment consists of several key stages: defining the topic, formulating a hypothesis, drawing up a timetable, literature research, and the writing phase.
You can choose between 2 formats:
- A literature review: a review paper in the relevant research field. The review include an in-depth discussion, in which you demonstrate your ability to critically evaluate hypotheses and results, present your own views, and draw conclusions that point towards new research opportunities. The review must also include a plain language summary (in Dutch or English, 500 words, high school biology or science level). A review format suitable for a relevant international peer-reviewed journal of high standard should be used.
- A research proposal: the format of a research funding application for a PhD position. You will use an adapted version of the NWO Open Competition Domain Science – KLEIN-1 grant application form. Download the template for the research proposal here.
The body of the text (excl. legends, tables, footnotes, references, etc.) should be 6000– 8000 words long. It should be emphasized that the content is more important than the number of words. The assignment should include minimally 25 and maximally 60 references.
Five weeks of full-time study (7.5 EC) are scheduled for the writing assignment. The maximal duration is 3 months from the first meeting with the supervisor to discuss the assignment until the submission of the final version.
To meet the deadline, the scope of the assignment should be limited and clearly defined, you should work diligently, and the agreements between you and your supervisor about the content and scope of the assignment should be clear.
A clear time schedule will help you to finish in time. During the first meeting with your supervisor, dates should be set for discussion of the writing plan, discussion of the first draft, and feedback on the final version.
After finishing your writing assignment you are capable of independently:
- Conducting literature research, using scientific secure literature databases (e.g. PubMed);
- Using scientific literature and insights in a critical manner;
- Summarizing literature using own words;
- Integrating results and models of papers read into new models;
- Formulating hypotheses for future research.
More information and guidelines:
- GSLS writing assignment guide for students
- GSLS writing assignment guide for supervisors
- OSIRIS Case - Instructions for students
- OSIRIS Case - Instructions for examiners
The UU library offers online backgrounds and trainings about the use of search engines, e.g. Libguide PubMed.
General guidelines for writing a scientific paper:
Things to consider before you hand in your application:
- Choose if you want to write a literature review or a research proposal.
- Choose a topic within the scope of your Master’s programme and that is clearly distinct from the topic(s) of your research project(s).
- Find an examiner and second reviewer.
The quality and suitability of your writing assignment is assessed by your programme coordinator and the Board of Examiners.
Since September 2022 the whole application procedure for writing assignments is digitized in OSIRIS Case. You can access OSIRIS Case via OSIRIS Student.
Contact OSIRIS Case
Both the digital procedure and the manual were created with the utmost care, but they may be incomplete or contain some inconsistencies. We appreciate your feedback, so please feel free to contact us on OSIRISCaseGSLS@uu.nl about your findings or in the event any issues occur.
For other comments or questions please contact the Master's administration office.
Projects outside UU/UMCU
Projects outside UU/UMCU require signing of an internship contract. More information can be found below in the section External writing assignment / going abroad.
Fraud and plagiarism
Your written report will be checked for plagiarism via Ouriginal. Upload the final version of your report as a Word file without your reference list to Ouriginal. Find the instructions here. You can do this yourself or your examiner can upload your report. If there are any restrictions on publication, the supervisor/examiner should upload the final report themselves so that it can be done under embargo.
The report (summary) from Ouriginal should be uploaded in OSIRIS Case by your examiner during the final assessment.
Is the percentage of matching text found by Ouriginal >10%? The examiner should write an explanation why this is not due to plagiarism and upload this in OSIRIS Case as well.
The examiner has to provide a motivation for the final grade and upload this motivation in OSIRIS Case during the final assessment. The rubric for the literature review or research proposal can be used.
Assessment form and procedure
Since September 2022 the registration of writing assignments is digitized in OSIRIS Case. Did you start your writing assignment before 2022 and is it not registered in OSIRIS Case? Please use the assessment method described below.
You examiner has to complete the final assessment form in OSIRIS Case, including the plagiarism report and the motivation of the grades. For more information, please check the OSIRIS Case examiner manual. The second reviewer or supervisor host institute will receive a notification from OSIRIS Case once the form has been completed and is asked to approve the final assessment.
OSIRIS Thesis Archive
All written reports will be archived in OSIRIS Thesis Archive. After the final assessment form is completed in OSIRIS Case, you will receive an e-mail, asking you to upload your report.
Additionally, you can choose to publish your thesis, including the timing and version to publish. The theses become open-access after the publication date and can be found through search engines like Google and WorldCat. Together with your examiner and supervisor you agree upon and decide if, when, and how your thesis will be published.
Please note: the title of your report is literally copied to your international diploma supplement, so be aware of the correct use of capitals in the title.
More information on OSIRIS Thesis Archive can be found here.
Assessment in case of confidentially
The following applies:
- Your examiner should be allowed to have access to the report at all times.
- The Board of Examiners and third parties concerned with the evaluation and accreditation of the Master's degrees should be allowed to access your report upon request.
- Reports are archived in OSIRIS Thesis Archive. In case of confidentiality, the examiner can indicate via the assessment form (or via OSIRIS Case, if applicable) whether (a version of) the report should be published. If a formal confidentiality agreement does not allow publication, you may upload a title page only including contact details of your supervisor, examiner, and institute as well as your name and student ID.
- The final report should be checked for plagiarism by the examiner. The option to upload a file 'under embargo' is only available when your examiner uploads the file to Ouriginal. The information in the report will not be stored in the Ouriginal database.
Conversion table international grades
Download the Conversion Table International Marks here.
Project start before September 2022?
Did you apply using the old PDF forms and is your project not registered in OSIRIS Case? After the end date of your writing assignment, the examiner has 10 working days to submit the assessment form. The procedure is as follows:
- Download the assessment form (open with Adobe Reader) and fill in the project information.
- The examiner completes the grading together with the supervisor host institute/second reviewer.
- The examiner sends the form, the motivation for the grade and plagiarism check to the Master’s administration office, programme coordinator, and student. Epidemiology students must first hand in the assessment form via MSc-Epidemiology@umcutrecht.nl.
- You receive an email asking you to upload a copy of your report via OSIRIS Student (see the section about OSIRIS Thesis Archive). Epidemiology students must first hand in the final report incl. a plain language summary as a PDF via MSc-Epidemiology@umcutrecht.nl.
- Once the Master's administration office receives the assessment form and you upload your final report, the grade is registered in OSIRIS.
- You receive an evaluation form by email.
We urge you to visit your programme coordinator after you finished your project to share your experiences.
The preparation and application of an writing assignment outside UU/UMCU or a writing assignment abroad is similar to a writing assignment within the UU/UMCU. You require an examiner from the UU/UMCU and the approval from the Board of Examiners. Your examiner and supervisor host institute both have to approve your research project in OSIRIS Case.
Writing assignments outside UU/UMCU require signing of the internship contract that is integrated in OSIRIS Case. During the application process in OSIRIS Case, the contract appears and will be signed as part of the process. No further action from your side is required.
If your institute is providing you with a different contract, please email it to email@example.com and submit the fully signed contract in OSIRIS Case.
Questions about the internship contract? Email: :
- firstname.lastname@example.org (Biosciences)
- email@example.com (Biomedical Sciences)
During your writing assignment, stay in touch with your examiner.
Going abroad? Start on time!
If you would like to do a writing assignment abroad, we strongly advise you to start in time to arrange things for your leave. More information can be found here. Please also check the general information on going abroad during your studies that can be found here and consult the international officers in case of questions.
A writing assignment cannot be extended for more credits.
Exceeding the maximal duration
To request a new end date, send an e-mail to your research project coordinator with a document attached (signed by your examiner) that includes:
- A valid motivation for the delay. If your motivation contains matters of privacy an e-mail from your academic counsellor supporting your request will suffice;
- A solid plan containing a time schedule and the new end date.
Valid reasons for postponing the end date are: more time spent on courses, extra time off due to personal circumstances, or if your examiner/supervisor needs more time due to personal circumstances.
Changes in the title of the project do no have to be communicated to the Board of Examiners.
In case of changes in the topic of the project, examiner, second reviewer/supervisor host institute or daily supervisor you should fill in the request for changes form and email it directly to the Master's administration office.
The Board of Examiners will check whether the new examiner or second reviewer/supervisor host institute meets the requirements. The Master's administration office will inform you about their decision.
You will always be writing your assignment under experienced supervision, and your assignment will often be part of a larger framework/project. By signing the application form, you declare to transfer the copyright of all products (including the tangible and intellectual products) of the assignment to the UU/UMCU or host institute. Depending on the magnitude of the scientific contribution, you have the right to be a (co-)author of publications or to be otherwise acknowledged. Any questions in this regard should be addressed to the head of the research group.
It is not uncommon for a students’ writing assignments to form the basis for a scientific article. Writing a scientific article is a difficult skill to master. Make sure you finish your writing assignment and have this assessed, before you start writing a possible review article which will then be used for publication. You can decide to work on it outside of your writing assignment (e.g., as a mini project in electives) so it does not cause you study delay.
Please note that the product you will hand in to the school should be an individual product. That means it cannot be edited for publication by your examiners or other co-authors. Of course, you can receive feedback. If your examiner decides to publish the report as a review, the examiner may rewrite it after you handed in your individual report.