Planning your Thesis / Capstone Project

TIMELINE FOR PLANNING, COMPLETING, AND PRESENTING HONORS THESES AND CAPSTONE PROJECTS

PLANNING, PART I—THE SIXTH SEMESTER, SPRING OF JUNIOR YEAR

  • Begin focusing on a topic and talk to appropriate faculty members who might serve as your advisor. Obtain formal faculty approval and sponsorship for your project. For a list of previous honors theses and capstone projects visit the following link.
  • You should plan to do most of the work in the summer between the junior and senior year (or between the two senior semesters) if you are registering for the 490 Independent Research and Study course in the fall. Even if you do not plan to register for the thesis until the spring of the senior year, you should plan the thesis in the previous spring and begin work during the summer.
  • Students completing the thesis or capstone project in the fall will register as appropriate for FRE490, GER490, RUS490, SPA490. Permission forms are available in the Department office.

PLANNING, PART II—SUMMER BETWEEN JUNIOR AND SENIOR YEAR (OR BETWEEN TWO SENIOR SEMESTERS)

  • Begin work on your thesis or capstone project.
  • If you have not already done so, draft a formal proposal. Study, expand and develop it. Write up a proposal, being certain to include the required items on the approval form (Independent Research and Study; ***490 :
    • Title of Thesis/Capstone Project: Develop a working title that reflects your thesis/capstone project and works(s) and author(s) you plan to investigate.
    • Introduction: Develop a working 200-250 word introduction in which you describe what you plan to study. Be sure to include a justification, that is, explain in what way your proposed topic or project is significant to you, to the field(s) in which you are working, and to those who are not specialist(s) in your field(s). How is your research/creative plan an extension of your work in your major and at Rider in general? How will the project contribute to your own personal and professional development?
    • Hypothesis/Objectives: What is it that you are trying to prove and examine and for what reason(s)?
    • Proposed methods and procedures: Consider how you plan to conduct this project in terms of what kinds of materials (texts, statistics, performances, interviews etc.) you will use, any critical theories and analytical methods you hope to apply. Consider also the likely length appropriate for your study. A critical analysis for publication in a scholarly journal as an article would most likely be 20-25 pages, including endnotes and bibliography. You may choose to do a longer thesis as well.
      • Project timetable/faculty meetings: Plan out a likely schedule of progress in your research and writing and a proposed timetable of meetings with your faculty advisor. She/he will finalize this with you in the fall. Since you will begin working on your preliminary bibliography in the summer, this is the first step in your timetable.
    • Project evaluation: Your faculty advisor will establish these criteria with you.
    • Relevant bibliography: Your advisor may give you in advance of the summer a short list of texts to investigate. Whether she/he does so or not, you should have a bibliography of sufficient length to begin working with over the summer.

COMPLETING YOUR PROJECT-SENIOR YEAR, SEVENTH OR EIGHTH SEMESTER

  • Doing the thesis/capstone project! You and your advisor will work closely throughout the semester, adhering to the timetable you both have established. A typical thesis/capstone project would follow the plan outlined below:
    • Summer: “Planning Part II, including preliminary bibliography and reading
    • Semester, Weeks 1-5: Completion of bibliography and completion of reading
    • Weeks 6-9: Preliminary draft
    • Weeks 10-11: Final draft and submission of thesis no later than November 15 or April 15
    • Week 12 or 13: Oral thesis defense and celebration! This defense is a wonderful way for you to discuss your thesis or capstone project with the department faculty and for us to celebrate your accomplishment.

FINAL SUBMISSION

At the time of the oral thesis/capstone project defense and celebration or, if necessary within a week thereafter, submit a final copy of your presentation to be housed in the FLL archives in Moore Library.