Thesis Guidelines

Thesis Guidelines for Schreyer Honors College students enrolled in majors in the College of Agricultural Sciences.

The Honors College thesis “… represents the culmination of a student's honors experience. Through the thesis, the student demonstrates a command of relevant scholastic work and a personal contribution to that scholarship”.

The thesis should be a challenging and rewarding project for the student. For students enrolled in majors in the College of Agricultural Sciences, the thesis should provide an opportunity for the student to participate in challenging and meaningful aspects of research or scholarship. The student should be expected to play a major defining role in the formulation of a hypothesis, research question, or experiential learning project; design of appropriate investigational, experimental, or research design methods to test a hypothesis, research question, or conduct original meaningful scholarly research including data collection and analysis; and formulating conclusions regarding the validity of the hypothesis or research question. The type of research may vary with the discipline and the academic department in which the honors student is enrolled. The thesis project may involve a subset of experiments or investigations that make significant contributions to the overall research efforts of a laboratory or program, or may be a completely independent student-driven project approved by the student’s thesis and honors advisors. The student should enroll in at least three credits of XX494H or XX496H as appropriate for the department and discipline. Schreyer Honors College policy limits the number of H research credits to no more than 6 to meet the 14 credit H requirement of the last two years of a student’s academic program.

The thesis should generally contain the following components: Abstract, List of Figures, List of Tables, Introduction, Review of Literature, Materials and Methods, Results, Discussion, Conclusions, and Bibliography. Alternatively, the body of the thesis may be comprised of these topics included in one or more separate manuscripts or papers suitable for submission for scholarly publication. If the manuscript or paper format is chosen, preface material prior to the papers should include an overall Abstract of the thesis study (objective, methods, results and conclusions), List of Figures, and List of Tables. The individual papers or manuscripts should also be followed by an overall Conclusions chapter. The thesis may include information in appendices that is important to the thesis but too voluminous to include in the body of the thesis. Examples of appropriate appendix information are: step by step laboratory procedures, tables of raw data, results of statistical analysis, photographs, interview transcripts, etc.

The thesis should be written in scholarly style with proper citations of references. Acronyms should be fully identified either the first time they are used in the text or in an appendix table. Legends of tables and figures should be sufficiently complete so that a reader can understand the data in the table or figure without referring to the text of the thesis.

During the research undertaking, students must work closely with both their thesis supervisor and thesis honors adviser to ensure that the project is within College of Agricultural Sciences norms about what constitutes thesis work. A typical thesis takes 2 to 3 semesters or more to complete. Students are strongly encouraged to be proactive in this process; to start early and arrange meetings with the honors adviser and thesis supervisor; to stay in close contact with honors advisers and thesis supervisors as the thesis process unfolds; and to monitor and meet all Schreyer Honors College thesis-related deadlines.

Setting goals, developing a realistic timeline, and staying on track are some of the keys to a positive thesis experience. Expect that the thesis will go through several revisions before it is ready for approval. In planning the thesis work, budget adequate time (several weeks) for the thesis supervisor and thesis honors adviser to read each draft and make comments, and allow time for incorporating their suggestions into the revised work. A thesis that does not meet the standards set by the academic department in the college will not be approved, which may lead to a delay in your graduation, or to graduation without honors.

Following is a suggested outline of thesis content:

  • Abstract
  • List of Figures
  • List of Tables
  • Acknowledgements
  • Introduction - a brief (1-2 page) introduction of the study. Objectives of the study should be clearly stated.
  • Review of Literature - an organized and thorough review of current, published, peer-reviewed literature pertinent to the objectives of the thesis project.
  • Materials and Methods
  • Results
  • Discussion
  • Conclusions
  • Bibliography
  • Appendices if needed
  • Academic vitae

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