Because Sociology is so diverse and accommodates a very broad variety of substantive, theoretical, and methodological orientations, it is best to use basic and somewhat broad guidelines rather than detailed criteria with respect to the development and expectations concerning the senior honors thesis. Toward that end, a student interested in doing an honors thesis in sociology is expected to meet the following guidelines.
Guidelines For Prospective Senior Honors Thesis Candidates
In addition to any and all requirements of the Honors Program, a student planning to do an honors thesis in sociology is expected to satisfy the following:
Prior to the end of the spring semester of the junior year, the student:
- Should discuss thesis ideas with relevant faculty members and secure the cooperation of at least one regular faculty member who will serve as the primary reader and adviser.
- In conjunction with the faculty adviser, a clear research focus needs to be identified to the point that there are clear and explicit research questions that will subsequently structure the thesis project. Identification of a general modus operandi for the project (i.e., what sort of primary and/or secondary data collection and/or analysis to be undertaken) is also expected.
- In conjunction with the faculty adviser, a summer reading program should be devised to inform the student about theories, methods, and prior research in the area so that the student is in a position to commence active work on the thesis project at the beginning of the senior year.
At the very beginning of the senior year, the student and major adviser need to establish a "contract" that minimally consists of a:
- Thesis prospectus that includes:
- A clear statement of the thesis topic;
- An articulation of the central (and derivative) research question(s);
- Provision of a brief abstract that identifies critical theoretical, methodological, and empirical antecedents); and
- A clear indication of the research strategy, methodology, and analytical techniques to be employed.
- A proposed and agreed upon task schedule for the two semesters (e.g., Sept-Oct - complete literature review, Sept. secure second reader, ... ).
- A brief statement of the modus operandi of student-thesis adviser consultation that outlines the mutually agreed upon expectations regarding minimal frequency and form of communication.
This "contract" accompanied by a completed course sign-up form must be submitted to and approved by the chair of the department (or designated surrogate) prior to enrollment. The chair has the prerogative to withhold approval (hence enrollment) and remand the "contract" back to the student and faculty mentor for revision.