Just weeks after many departments' deadlines for submitting senior theses, some concentrations are encouraging potential thesis writers to begin thinking of ideas or requiring them to submit proposals in the spring of their junior years.
According to faculty and staff from several departments, these early steps help in developing thesis topics and planning summer research. Students rarely make significant changes to their thesis topics between junior and senior year, they added.
The History of Science department requires students planning to write senior theses to submit preliminary proposals in the spring of their junior years and revised proposals the next fall, according to Nadine M. Weidman, the leader of the History of Science senior thesis tutorial.
“I’ve done this job for two years, and I don’t think anyone has really changed the thesis topic to something radically different,” she said, adding that some students have made shifts within their broader topic area.
According to Laura G. Thomas, undergraduate advising and program administrator in the Sociology Department, students interested in writing theses submit statements of intent in the spring of their junior years, but she added that students can begin the process in the fall of their senior year.
Thomas said she has noticed that as students do research over the summer or flesh out their ideas with advisers, their original ideas become more focused and concrete. Like Weidman, however, Thomas said thesis writers in her department do not typically make drastic changes in their topics between their junior and senior years.
According to Economics lecturer and adviser Kiran Gajwani, the Economics Department does not have a “formal policy for juniors” interested in writing theses. Gajwani said the deadline to decide to write a thesis is the beginning of senior fall, when thesis writers need to enroll in an Economics 985 senior thesis research seminar and have a topic and advisor.
Gajwani said the department offers optional junior seminars, research-oriented courses that can help students develop ideas for their theses. In addition, Gajwani said the department holds meetings and offers advising for juniors who are interested in writing senior theses.
According to Economics concentrator Bianca Mulaney ’16, who said she plans to write a senior thesis on the economic impact of antibiotic resistance, the department asks thesis writers to submit a pre-registration form by May 1 of their junior years, but not submitting the form does not prohibit concentrators from writing theses.
“I think it’s good to start thinking about your thesis before you leave campus…especially because during the summer, you have more time to reflect on thesis writing,” she said.
—Staff writer Jasmine Hakimian can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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