General information

The purpose of a 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. The end product of a Writing Assignment can take one of two forms: a Literature review or a Research Proposal.

Literature Review
This form of Writing Assignment consists of a clear and adequate overview of recent literature addressing the topic of interest.
The Literature Review must 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 Literature Review must also include a plain language summary specifically aimed at informing a broader audience without prior specialized knowledge about the content of the review.

A review format suitable for a relevant international peer-reviewed journal of high standard should be used.
Research Proposal
This form of Writing Assignment uses the format of a research funding application for a PhD position. Writing successful research proposals is a long process that begins with an idea.

You will be using an adapted version of the application form for NWO Open Competition Domain Science – KLEIN-1 grants. You will be asked to write an extensive overview on the background of the topic, to state your proposed approach, to critically comment on the feasibility of the project and the risks inherent to it and to describe the value and contribution of your proposed project within a broader scientific and societal context.

Download the template for the research proposal here40.71 KB.


After finishing his/her writing assignment the student is 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.

In order to assess whether the student has achieved these learning outcomes or to discuss the specific criteria on beforehand, the Rubric for writing assignments can be used.

For more information and guidelines:

Furthermore, the UU library offers online backgrounds and trainings about the use of search engines, for instance:

There are also general guidelines for writing a scientific paper:

It is important to make agreements with your examiner/supervisor about the publication of your work at the start of your project. Usually, publication rights will be transferred to your supervisor or his/her research group.

As to copyrights (auteursrecht), by signing the application form you declare to transfer the copyright of any and all products (including the tangible and intellectual products of the research project) to the institute where you perform your project. This can be either Utrecht University, the University Medical Centre Utrecht (UMC Utrecht) or your host institute. The rights of the student by scientific standards to be a co-author of publications or to be otherwise acknowledged are still recognized.

Your contribution may be acknowledged in different ways. Not only does this depend on the amount of data/texts you have contributed (to), but it also depends on the quality of your work and the level of independence during the project. You may be named in the acknowledgments, your report/writing assignment may be used as a literature reference or you may be asked to be a co-author for an article.

Any questions regarding these issues should be addressed to the head of your group.