Honors Thesis Proposal
Candidates for the Research Citation in Honors are required to prepare a proposal outlining plans, methods, and intended outcomes for an independent research project leading to a senior Honors thesis. While each project is unique, this worksheet provides guidance to prepare a successful project proposal.
Students are fully admitted once the proposal for the independent Honors research project is approved. Approval must be given by the faculty mentor/adviser and by the dean of the Farquhar Honors College.
Structure and Format of the Proposal
a. Statement of Thesis
The proposal must have a carefully crafted statement of thesis identifying the question addressed in the research project. A strong and clear thesis statement reflects a rationale for the project (need), a context for the work to be done, and a position regarding the expected outcome. The thesis statement is usually one paragraph long.
b. Review of Literature
The proposal must provide a preliminary review of literature, demonstrating that the researcher is familiar with relevant work already performed. Since the final thesis will have a more expanded review of literature, the proposal should be preliminary (five to seven resources, at minimum).
Methodology, in detail, is a central element of a successful proposal. The successful review and evaluation of the proposal will be a function of the strength, relevance, fit, and capability of the methodology provided. Methods of research address all aspects of process, assessment, analysis, and evaluation—and will necessarily vary in approach based on the project. Students must be competent with the methodological tools and metrics proposed, to the satisfaction of the faculty adviser.
d. Intended Learning Outcomes
The proposal must include a brief statement of the expected learning outcomes for the student researcher based on successful completion of the project.
e. Expected Research Outcomes and Product
The proposal must include a statement on the broader expected outcomes and implications of the final product: who will be served and how this research advances inquiry. In addition, a specific statement must be included describing the final product (paper, experimental results) and a plan for dissemination and presentation: Undergraduate Research Symposium, submitted for publication, regional conference poster session, etc.
f. Budget and Resources Needed
The proposal must include a budget detailing all costs involved with the project including any resources needed to conduct the research, possible travel associated with research or presentation, supplies, and so on. A successful proposal, approved at all levels, includes funding needed to conduct the project.
g. Project Calendar
The proposal must include a summary timeline noting the student researcher's plans and expectations for project progress and completion, including possible outlets for dissemination. This is important for assessment of the proposal to determine whether the project can be conducted and completed—realistically—as presented by the researcher.
Proposal Submission, Review, and Approval
a. Selecting a Faculty Mentor/Adviser
Selection of a faculty mentor/adviser is the second most important 'task' toward successful completion of an Honors thesis. Number one, of course, is the selection of a topic/question for study. Students should begin to work with a faculty member as early as possible. Students can approach a faculty member with whom they have worked (taken a course and done well) and ask about their interest in assisting on an Honors thesis. Talk about the topic. If he or she is unable to offer assistance, he or she may suggest a faculty colleague who may be available. The faculty adviser/mentor must be a member of the full-time faculty at NSU (although you may have associate advisers not affiliated with NSU). This person will provide feedback and guidance on the thesis proposal and project—however, this is each student's project to lead and complete.
b. Preparing the Proposal
The proposal will require drafts, reviews, edits, and revisions. This is a product that forms the basis for research and will take time—as much as a full semester to complete. All proposals must be completed and approved before the end of the fall semester.
c. Securing Approval of the Faculty Mentor/Adviser
Faculty mentor/adviser approval is a 'first' step in project proposal approval. The faculty mentor/adviser 'signs off' once he or she believes that the student has developed a sound research program and have the ability and preparation to pursue the project successfully.
d. Securing Approval of the Academic Program Leadership
The program leader will also review the proposal and is 'second' in the process for approval, review the project to ensure that the work is primarily to be done by the student researcher, and that the project is at a caliber consistent with the demands for an 'Honors' thesis. Please note that each program may establish specific requirements and expectations unique to that program.
e. Securing Approval of the Dean of the Farquhar Honors College
The final approval by the dean of the Farquhar Honors College will be provided after a 'committee' meeting including the student researcher, faculty mentor/adviser and the dean of the Farquhar Honors College. The student researcher will 'present' the proposal. Approval by the dean of the Farquhar Honors College includes particular attention to the intended outcomes (personal learning and dissemination of work), budget (while there maybe exceptions, the maximum that will be awarded to any project will not exceed $2,500.00), and scholarly challenge represented by the proposal.
After Project Approval: What's Next?
The student researcher's primary duty, once the proposal is approved, is to work on the research project. The faculty mentor/adviser is a key resource person; however, he or she is not responsible to monitor the work or to push the student to complete the project.
A student will earn a Research Citation in Honors upon successful completion of 9 Honors credits (including HONR 4990) and the Honors thesis, maintaining a cumulative grade point average of 3.5 or higher, and meeting all other program requirements for graduation. All students writing an Honors thesis must format the document according to the Honors Thesis Format Guidelines.
Successful completion of the Honors thesis is determined through a formal review including an 'oral defense' meeting with a faculty committee. Students must successfully complete the ‘oral defense’ no later than March 15 in the year the student plans to complete degree requirements.
General questions about the Research Citation in Honors should be directed to the Farquhar Honors College. Specific questions about projects should be discussed with faculty mentor/adviser.