THESIS GUIDELINES

Before beginning their thesis, students should read these guidelines and check in with the Honors Advisor for their department. The advisors’ names and contact information are listed on the department guidelines in this document. Students must let their advisor know when they are planning to graduate and make sure that both they themselves and their research supervisor understand the process and deadlines.

1. SUPERVISION

The supervising professor will generally be a faculty member in the department granting the degree. Students may do thesis research in another department in our college, in another department outside our college, or even at another institution. In those cases, however, the department in which the degree is earned must have a faculty member willing to co-supervise the work and co-sign the thesis.There should be at least two faculty members approving the thesis. One will be the supervising professor and the other the department Honors Faculty Advisor. The co-supervising professor must also approve the thesis, if the primary supervisor is not a member of the department.

2. LEVEL

Most departments have guidelines for the honors thesis. Students should talk with the Honors Advisor in their department before they begin writing the thesis to be certain they understand the requirements and expectations. In general, the thesis should be a scholarly work that shows the writer’s knowledge of the relevant scholarship in the field and contributes to that scholarship. The project being described should define an unresolved problem in the field, and students should indicate what they have done to push towards resolution of the problem.

3. ELEMENTS

Abstract: The abstract, which briefly defines the problem and summarizes results, is generally 1 – 2 pages and is written at a level readable by almost any undergraduate in the College.

Background: This section defines the problem, including the importance and background, and provides a scholarly review of the relevant literature in the field. This section should be readable by any Dean’s Scholar.

Results: This section describes the work. The format for this will differ, depending on the field, and should satisfy the supervising professor.

Discussion: Students should provide a discussion of their results and how they fit into the bigger picture.This should not be a repetition of the results. Instead, students should focus on the interpretation and significance of the data. Any unexpected results or approaches that were unsuccessful should be explained here. Students may also describe additional experiments or approaches that they would use if they were to continue with the project. This section should be readable by any Dean’s Scholar.

Bibliography: An alphabetized list of all published information referred to in the body of the thesis.

4. LENGTH

This is area-dependent. Some documents may have many pages of data or software (perhaps in appendices) and others may not. Students should speak with their supervising professor or the Honors Advisor in their department to ascertain their expectations.

5. FORMAT

A hard copy will be given to the supervising professor(s) for approval. The cover page will have a place for the supervising professor’s signature, indicating that the thesis meets the department’s requirements for the honors degree. A copy of the signed cover page and a hard copy or PDF of the thesis should be given to the Honors Advisor in their department by the stated deadline. Students must submit a PDF of the thesis to the Texas ScholarWorks repository. We would like to maintain a web site with all of the theses to serve as a guide for future students andto show the outstanding research that is being done by our students. Unless students object to having their thesis available online or in the Texas ScholarWorks or their supervising professor does not want the data made available prior to formal publication, students should submit the permission page when submitting to Texas ScholarWorks.

6. PRESENTATION

A publicly announced oral presentation or participation in the College of Natural Sciences Undergraduate Research Forum or CNS Honors Symposium is expected.

7. DEADLINES

The presentations should be prior to exam week, and the final documents are due by the dates indicated on the department guidelines. Students should check with their readers to determine their deadlines for reading and signing the document, but they should plan to turn in their thesis to their readers in time to allow them at least 2 weeks to read and approve the thesis. The PDF or hard copy and a copy of the signed cover page should be given to the Honors faculty advisor by the date indicated onthe department guidelines.