Planning Your Thesis

TIMELINE FOR PLANNING, COMPLETING, AND PRESENTING HONORS THESES

PLANNING, PART I--SPRING OF JUNIOR YEAR

  • Begin focusing on a topic and talk to appropriate faculty members who might serve as advisor(s).
  • If the topic is interdisciplinary, you will need a second reader from an appropriate field (other than that of the primary advisor).
  • You should plan to do most of the work in fall (rather than spring) of your senior year. You will therefore need to obtain formal faculty approval and sponsorship for your project during the prior spring course selection period so that you can register for either BHP 499 Baccalaureate Honors Thesis (usually for interdisciplinary projects) OR the equivalent Independent Study course in your department (see the appropriate department chair if you have questions about the latter). The necessary permission forms are available in the Dean’s office. Even if you do not plan to register for BHP 499 or department equivalent until spring of senior year, you still need to begin planning your thesis and securing an advisor by the end of your junior year.

    Please note: Theses written for Departmental Honors, if evaluated as satisfactory by the faculty advisor, can also be counted as BHP theses.
  • Plan to attend the Senior Thesis Presentation event in May, so that you may get a sense of what you will be asked to do the following year.

PLANNING, PART II--SUMMER BETWEEN JUNIOR AND SENIOR YEAR

  • Begin work on your project.
  • If you have not already done so, draft a formal proposal. If you have submitted a proposal to register for BHP 499 or a departmental Independent Study, expand and develop it. Be sure to include the following:
    1. Justification--In what way is your proposed topic or project significant to you, to the field(s) in which you are working, and to those who are not specialists in your field(s)? How does your research/creative plan represent an extension of your work in Honors and in general at Rider? How do you expect this project to contribute to your own development and/or preparation for future endeavors?
    2. Working Title
    3. Planning outline
    4. Timeline for completion of stages (including frequent meetings with advisor for review and feedback)
    5. Preliminary bibliography
  • If your project is a research paper, plan on a length that would be appropriate for publication as an article in a good journal in your field. Often this means 20-25 typescript pages, but requirements may differ by discipline. Consult your advisor for models you might use as guides.  Finding appropriate references for a project this size could be a challenge.  For expert help, request an individual session with a subject-specialist librarian.  You can make such a request by contacting Diane Campbell or Pat Dawson.  Attach a copy of your proposal to the request to aid the librarian in planning for the appointment. 

    Contexts and significance: In an introduction, explain the meaning and importance of your research question in ways that would make sense to non-specialists. This should be an elaboration, after your project is complete, of the “Justification” in your initial proposal (see above.)
  • If your project is primarily artistic (e.g., a poem, novel, or playscript; choreographed or musical performance), length will be partly determined by genre and artistic convention. Work with your advisor on determining what is appropriate in your case.
    Contexts and significance: Plan on locating your creative work within the relevant history and theory of your genre by writing a short (5-8 page) paper that would help your audience understand the nature of your contribution.

COMPLETING YOUR PROJECT--SENIOR YEAR

  • Do your project! Do not procrastinate!
    Adhere as closely as possible to your timeline for working through the project, being sure to factor in the time your advisor(s) will need to review work in progress and offer feedback that may require substantial further work on some aspects.
    • Revised copy should be in your advisor’s hands no later than one week following return from spring break (generally last week in March).
    • Final version should be submitted to your advisor(s) AND to BHP Director no later than April 15. If you do not adhere to the timeline you and your advisor have agreed to, you risk an inability to complete your project satisfactorily in time for the presentation in May, a requirement for graduation with the BHP diploma.

PRESENTING YOUR PROJECT—END OF SENIOR YEAR

  • Plan a concise oral presentation for early May.
    You want to convey to audience members who have not seen your work what you did and why it is interesting and significant. Therefore, the last two weeks in April should be used to plan a 5-7 minute presentation of your project, in which you briefly mention significance of your question, major findings or outcomes of your inquiry, and your plans for career and/or continued study. If you have produced a creative project, you may use the presentation time for a brief reading or performance, following a short introduction abstracted from your “contexts and significance” paper. Rehearse your presentation to make sure it is 1) coherent in content, 2) engaging in manner (anticipate what your audience would want/need to know), and 3) properly timed.

FINAL SUBMISSION

At the time of presentation or, if necessary and if time before graduation permits, within a week thereafter, submit final copy of your presentation for BHP archives housed in Moore Library.