J.D. Winter Writing Program: Guidelines for Students

Type of paper

You may work on an independent paper under HLS faculty supervision (two or three writing credits) or a paper in conjunction with a course or seminar you are taking in this academic year (two or three writing credits).

An "in conjunction" paper is generally an expansion of the required seminar or course paper.  If you choose to write a longer seminar or course paper than is required to complete the course or seminar, and the instructor approves, you will receive writing credit in addition to the HLS classroom credits you receive for the seminar or course itself.

You may not use the WWP to work on:

  • A 1-credit  paper.
  • Option 2 writing.
  • Any written work that you registered for in a prior year.

Winter Writing Proposal and Faculty Supervisor

  • After doing sufficient preliminary research to develop a topic, you should complete a proposal including a clear description of the topic of your paper. Your faculty supervisor must approve your proposal and must agree to supervise the entire project, not just the work you do during the WWP.  Give your faculty supervisor a copy of the Guidelines for Faculty and ask him or her to review and sign your registration form.
  • You may not change supervisors at any time without first filing a new Proposal. Requests to change supervisors after winter term starts, may result in your being dropped from the program.

Location of Research

  • Work in Cambridge: The proposal must include an arrangement for adequate supervision and assurance that the work will be done while the student is in residence in Cambridge. The supervision arrangement should include both formal meetings and informal contact between the student and advisor.
  • Work Outside of Cambridge: You may be permitted to do research outside of Cambridge during the winter term. If you're interested in doing so, your proposal must clearly explain why you cannot do the work in Cambridge, define the nature and scope of the research work, and specify how your time will be spent outside Cambridge. You must also describe the supervision arrangement you have with your HLS faculty supervisor.   If you plan to do your research outside of the U.S., you must satisfy the School's travel requirements outlined on the HLS International Travel Information web page.

Registration for the Winter Writing Program

  • Submit the completed registration form, with required faculty supervisor’s signature to the Registrar's Office (WCC Suite 4007) by November 7, 2014. You may not drop or add the WWP after that date.
  • If you plan to write a paper in conjunction with course or seminar taken this year, you must be registered for the course or seminar at the time you submit your Winter Writing Proposal.
  • The WWP does not confer any additional credit beyond the writing credit associated with the paper you are writing.
  • To meet the HLS minimum residency requirement, the research/writing done during the winter term must be comparable to completion of a two-credit course.

Completion of the Winter Writing Program Work

  • You and your faculty supervisor must agree on the final product for the WWP. The work you complete should be a final paper, a draft of the paper, or, at a minimum, a detailed outline. You will not receive a grade until the final paper is completed.
  • If the work to be completed during the winter term is not the final paper, the final paper is due on April 24, 2015, or by an earlier date if required by your supervisor.

Important Notes

  • Students on visas who propose to travel outside the United States for the WWP should contact the Harvard International Office before registering for the WWP. Changes in the laws may affect your ability to travel outside the United States and to return. Any student considering travel outside the United States should check all relevant travel advisories. 
  • Students are responsible for the ethical implications of their research. If a student’s project involves interviews, surveys, or obtaining information about individuals by other means, it may require review by the Committee on the Use of Human Subjects in Research (IRB).  Please contact the Law School liaison at the IRB, Rebecca Holmes Farley, IRB Research Officer (6-1185; cuhs@fas.harvard.edu) to determine whether your project requires review.

Last modified: October 21, 2014

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