Independent Study: Introduction

In conducting this study, you can expect to develop:

  • Deeper understanding of the chosen development issue or opportunity
  • Integration of course learnings and research
  • Improving academic writing skills: Experience with various research methods and information sources; Skill in presenting your knowledge in a clear, concise, well organized manner.
  • Critical analysis of current development literature
  • Contribution to body of knowledge, concrete recommendations for your organization


  • Classroom sessions: general guidelines
  • Discussion with Advisor who will assist you to focus your topic, develop research questions and provide constructive feedback.
  • Learning groups: share ideas


  • Participation
  • Work completed and presented on time

Independent Study Requirements

  • 25-35 pages (6,000-8,000 words)
  • Minimum of 10 information sources consulted and referenced
  • Follows required structure (5 sections)
  • Ideas presented clearly
  • Evidence of critical analysis & original thought
  • Time expectation: 90 hours
  • 5-6 meetings with advisor

Independent Study Structure

Section I: Introduction (3-4 pages)

  • Purpose of the Study
  • Nature of the Development Issue / Opportunity
  • Vision and Mission of your Organization
  • Your Position and Experience

Section II: Problem Situation / Opportunity (6-8 pages)

  • Detailed description of issue or opportunity (including both local and structural dimensions)
  • Develop 3-4 key questions. These will provide the focus for your reading and research.

Section III: Source Review (10-15 pages)

  • Review of literature & information sources used (minimum of 10 sources consulted)
  • Presents critical analysis of key ideas or lessons learned from research

Section IV: Conclusion & Recommendations (5-7 pages)

  • Relevance of learning & transferability of ideas
  • Connections with other learning at Coady (journal)
  • Implications for practice
  • Recommendations

Section V: Reference List

  • Information sources appropriately acknowledged


What is Plagiarism?

Plagiarism is "the act of appropriating the literary composition of another, or parts or passages of his [or her] writings, or the ideas or language of the same, and passing them off as the product of one's own mind" (Black's Law Dictionary).

 A student found to have plagiarized will receive zero for the work concerned.
(St. Francis Xavier University Academic Calendar)

Examples of Plagiarism:

  • Copying information from a book without a reference
  • Copying information from a website, "cut & paste"
  • Getting a friend to write a paper for you

How to Avoid Plagiarism

  • Always credit the source of information or ideas that you borrow from others.
  • Check the Independent Study webpage for tutorials on citing references and avoiding plagiarism.