Senior Thesis

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Chase Glatz presenting his research to Dr. Brian Mapes during the 2022 Rosenstiel Undergraduate Research Symposium.

How To Complete A Senior Thesis

You and a faculty member of your choice agree on a suitable research project. Before deciding on your research project, consider talking with several faculty members to discuss possible projects.

For at least two semesters, you must have enough time in your schedule to devote to research. You should enroll in one to three credits of 411 (independent research) for each semester of research in consultation with your faculty mentor. Each credit is equivalent to a 1-credit laboratory (3 hours per week), but if you are enthusiastic about your project, you may spend more time than that. The 411 will be graded on a satisfactory/unsatisfactory basis. During the term in which you write the thesis you should enroll for 1 credit of 412.

Guidelines for Writing the Senior Thesis

Your Senior Thesis should follow the general format of a scientific paper submitted to a research journal. It should be organized into the following sections:

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  • Title Page

    Title Page (First page)

  • Approval Form

    Approval Form (Second page)

  • Introduction

    The  Introduction should contain a clear and concise statement of the question being asked, a brief review of relevant literature, and the reason for doing the experiment or making the observations

  • Materials and Methods

    The  Materials and Methods section should contain a description of the general methods used, and the kinds and sources of equipment and supplies used to make the observations.

  • Results

    The Results section should contain the observations, along with any summarizing statements, tables, figures, and statistical analysis; this section should stand for all time, even if a century from now the interpretations of the results (in the next section) might be different.

  • Discussion

    The  Discussion should contain an interpretation of the observations, a consideration of any limitations imposed by the methods, alternative explanations of the observations, and discussion of their general significance.

  • Abstract or Summary

    The  Abstract or  Summary should contain a brief description of the most important observations; it should not contain any information that isn’t already in the Results section of the paper; and material repeated from the Introduction and Discussion sections, if included at all, should be limited to one or two sentences.

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  • Checklist

    • Manuscript double-checked for spelling errors?
    • Have you avoided the following common errors?
      • there for  their and vice versa;
      • affect for  effect and vice versa;
      • its for  it’s and vice versa;
      • ...the data  is, was, shows for ...the data  are, were, show (the word  data is plural).
    • Pages numbered?
    • Figures numbered consecutively?
    • All figures with legends under the figures?
    • Tables numbered consecutively?
    • All tables with headings over the tables?
    • All figures and tables referred to, in the body of the text?
    • All tables and figures understandable without reference to the text?
    • All sources cited in the text present in the list of References?
    • All sources in the list of References cited in the text?
    • References double-checked for accuracy in volume numbers and page numbers?