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Senior Honors Project

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Some departments have their own specific guidelines for completing the Senior Honors Project that may vary from those outlined by the Honors Program. In such cases procedures developed by the respective department will take precedence. Questions can be directed to the departmental liaisonand/or the Honors Academic Advisor.

Departmental Guidelines

Honors Interdisciplinary Project

In the interdisciplinary research project, students will design and produce an integrated research project in an appropriate interdisciplinary context which results in a substantial written thesis. For the project to be considered interdisciplinary, the Honors scholar must clearly integrate two or more different kinds of approaches, knowledge bases, or skill sets in order to answer a research question or produce a creative work. HON 499 Interdisciplinary Honors Research Projects may be especially suitable to students working outside of their major departments, or as a home for collaborations between students working in different disciplines.

Students may undertake interdisciplinary research or creative projects with permission from the Honors Program, which will judge the student’s capacity and readiness for interdisciplinary study. Email Associate Director Philip Frana (franapl@jmu.edu) or Academic Advisor Jared Diener (dienerjl@jmu.edu) to set up a face-to-face meeting about the project in the semester prior to enrollment in HON 499A. 

Purpose: 

HON 499 projects are recommended only where the student(s) cannot form a senior project committee in their own discipline(s) or in one of the university’s other interdisciplinary programs.

Interdisciplinary Honors research projects are not recommended for students working on a project in their own department or major, students working by mutual agreement within the guidelines set by the advisors’ departments, or students working in collaboration with others but by agreement following the guidelines set by their own departments.

Students in HON 499 must follow applicable departmental and Honors program guidelines for traditional, collaborative, or creative Honors projects.

Expectations: 

Interdisciplinary research projects in particular demand a high level of scholarship, intellectual engagement, careful documentation, long-range planning, and time commitment. The research experience is grounded in the individual research proposal developed by the student with assistance from one or more advisors who are domain experts. Recommended but not required, Honors faculty liaisons are especially gifted as advisors to students working on HON 499 projects.

Interdisciplinary Senior Honors Research Projects should blend two or more disciplines into a project in the style of a graduate-level thesis, academic journal article, or creative project. Honors student scholars are expected to meaningfully contextualize the discourse from the disciplines under study to deepen understanding of topics, conflicts, or problems. They should independently create whole arguments by synthesis and draw conclusions by combining examples, facts, or theories from more than one field of study or disciplinary perspective. Students are enjoined under this option to enhance meaning and make clear the interdependence of discipline-based investigation through choice of format, language, or methodology.

Questions can be directed to the Honors Associate Director and/or the Honors Academic Advisor. In all cases, the Interdisciplinary Senior Honors Research Project entails the production of substantial written work.

No final project is accepted without the required 3.25 cumulative GPA. If the student’s GPA drops below the required level, he/she should consider shifting the research project into a 490 independent study course.                                                                                                                

Requirements: 

Students must meet jointly with the Honors Associate Director and Honors Academic Advisor throughout the senior project process. The first such meeting must occur in the semester prior to 499A in order to obtain permission to enroll in the HON sequence.  Thereafter meetings must take place at least twice each semester—one of which takes place within the first two weeks—to deliver progress updates. Students are responsible for setting up these meetings.

See individual guidelines for traditional, collaborative, or creative projects for other specific instructions.

Submission of Materials:

See individual guidelines for traditional, collaborative, or creative projects for specific instructions.

Accounting

No specific guidelines have been posted by the department, in an effort to keep the senior project process as flexible as possible and to allow for individuality between projects.

In lieu of departmental guidelines, the Honors Program would like students to know the following information:

  • Students should contact the departmental Honors liaison early in the junior year to discuss the process, how to register for 499 courses, when to begin the process, how to select a project advisor, and other important matters.
  • The 3 semesters of 499 courses should produce a total of 6 credit hours.
  • Begin the project 3 semesters prior to graduation.
  • Obtain the consent of a full-time JMU professor in your major department to be the project advisor and two additional members to serve as readers on the project committee.
  • Review the information regarding the senior project on the Honors Program website.
  • Students should follow the Honors Program guidelines and customize their project and the process through consultation with their project advisor and committee.

If more help is desired, students may schedule an appointment with an Honors Program director.

Anthropology

Art Design and Art History

Art History

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Art Education

Guidelines for Art Education are not yet available. Until they are posted, please review the information on this website and contact Dr. Kathy Schwartz to obtain more specific information. 

Studio Art

1. Track III applicants must have a 3.5 cumulative GPA.  Current Track I and II students must have a cumulative GPA of 3.25.

2. Honors Thesis Exhibition 

Students proposing an Honors Thesis in the Studio Arts are expected to create a significant, original body of work appropriate to their discipline and in consultation with their Honors Thesis Advisor and committee. This body of work culminates in an Honors Thesis Exhibition in a public venue.

It expected that the exhibition will be scheduled at least a month before the Thesis submission deadline set by the Honors Program (see the Honors website for specific deadlines). This will provide ample opportunity to include documentation of the exhibition for the Honors Thesis and insure that the project is eligible for Honors related awards and notice both within the Honors program and through the School of Art and Art History. Students should note that the exhibition venue must be scheduled well in advance of the expected exhibition dates as most venues establish their calendars months before.

NOTE: The research done in studio art is inherently different from other branches of the academy whose main research outcome is the authoring of papers. Typically, our research is a complex process of the creation of original works of art—an activity akin to musical composition, creative writing, choreography, and not dissimilar to disciplines in the sciences where pure and applied research is valued. Writing is neither better than, nor less than doing/creating, and often the two come in a range of importance, affecting greatly differing levels of communities, and of varying levels of benefit to departments, institutions, and individuals. In addition, the “art world” is not homogenous or monolithic, each medium has respective cultural values and opportunities. Because of this, it is inappropriate to attempt to reduce the evaluation of honors thesis projects, based on simplistic concepts of academic value.

3. Honors Thesis Paper

The Studio Honors Thesis Paper is a written document which supports the creative research presented in the Honors Thesis Exhibition. This should include visual documentation of the Honors Thesis Exhibition.

Biology/Biotechnology

Chemistry/Biochemistry

1.  ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS

  • a)  Students not already in the Honors Program (as Track I or Track II) at the start of their junior year (or with 3 to 4 semesters remaining) must have a 3.50 cumulative GPA or higher to be eligible to begin a senior honors project as a Track III honors student.
  • b)  Students must have a 3.25 GPA in the major in order to be eligible to write an honors thesis. Students must have a 3.25 in the major at the time they register and they must maintain this 3.25 GPA while working on the honors thesis. The honors thesis coordinator will verify that each student's GPA meets these requirements before allowing them to register for 499 each semester. If a student's GPA falls below 3.25, his/her committee will review the student's progress on the thesis and reserves the right to terminate the thesis process at that point.
  • c)  Ideally, two semesters of undergraduate research prior to beginning the thesis. Students will be required to register for CHEM 481, Literature and Seminar I, during the fall semester of their senior year and CHEM 482, Literature and Seminar II, during the spring semester of their senior year. 

2.  COMPOSITION OF COMMITTEES

  • a)  499 students must meet with the honors thesis coordinator no later than the first week of class to define their topic and establish a committee.
  • b)  Honors thesis committees are comprised of three faculty members. The chair must be a member of the chemistry and biochemistry department. No more than one member may be from outside the department.
  • c)  The honors thesis coordinator will be responsible for ensuring that committees include faculty members with expertise appropriate to the thesis topic.
  • d)  Department faculty are expected to serve on honors thesis committees when asked by the department Head to do so.

3.  CHECKPOINTS

  • a)  Any incomplete received for one phase of the honors colloquium must be completed by the time class begins for the next phase or the student will not be allowed to continue in the colloquium.
  • b)  Colloquium grades will be assigned by the committee chair in consultation with the committee. It is the responsibility of the colloquium instructor and the readers to communicate concerns regarding the student's progress to the committee chair. 

4.  CONTENT AND ORGANIZATION OF THE THESIS

An honors thesis is required to adhere to the guidelines of the American Chemical Society ACS Style Guide (Coghill and Garson 2006), and must contain the following sections (descriptions paraphrased from The ACS Style Guide):

  • a)  Abstract: An abstract is a brief statement of the problem or the purpose of the research. It should indicate the theoretical work or experimental plan used, summarize principal findings of the research, and point out major conclusions. Chemical safety information should be included when applicable. Write the abstract last to be sure that it accurately reflects the content of the paper.
  • b)  Introduction: This section includes a clear statement of the problem and the reasons for studying it.  Provide a concise background discussion of the problem and the significance, scope, and limits of the work. Outline what has been done previously by citing truly pertinent literature but do not include a general survey of semi-relevant literature.  State how your work differs from earlier work in the field and demonstrate the continuity from the previous work to your own.
  • c)  Experimental: The experimental section should provide sufficient detail about the materials and the methods used so that other experienced workers can repeat the experiment and obtain comparable results. Site the appropriate literature when using a standard method and give only the details needed. Identify the materials used in the research and give information on the purity of all chemicals and reagents employed in the research. Include the chemical names of all compounds and chemical formulas of substances that are new or uncommon. Use standard systematic nomenclature to unambiguously define well-established compounds.
  • d)  Results: Summarize the data collected in this section, and their statistical treatment. Include only relevant data, but give sufficient detail to justify the conclusions.  It is appropriate in this section to use equations, figures, and tables to display your data. Extensive, but relevant data, should be reserved for an appendix where it is identified as supporting information.
  • e)  Discussion: The discussion section is where you interpret and compare the results. The objective is to point out the features and limitations of the work. Relate your results to current knowledge in the field and to the original purpose for undertaking the project.
  • f)  Conclusions: This section is written to put the interpretation of the results into the context of the original problem.  Do not repeat the discussion points or include irrelevant material conclusion should be based on the evidence presented.
  • g)  Acknowledgments: Individuals and organizations who helped with the research project and provided financing are thanked in the last paragraph of the thesis. Do not include individual titles in the acknowledgments. However, it is appropriate to state grant numbers and sponsors.
  • h)  References: Many bibliographic styles are acceptable for publications in chemistry and biochemistry. Adopt a bibliographic style that is used by the journal where the work will be submitted for publication, and then refer to the guidelines when questions of style and formatting arise. You can find information about bibliographic styles and formatting in the Information for Authors section of a journal's website. 

5.  GRAMMAR AND STYLE

The ACS Style Guide (Coghill and Garson 2006) is an excellent reference to use when writing your honors thesis. Writing Like a Chemist (Robinson et al 2008) is recommended reading for those who need help getting started with an honors thesis.

Coghill, A.M.; Garson, L. R. The ACS Style Guide, 3rd ed.; Oxford University Press, New York, 2006.

Robinson, M. S.; Stoller, F. L.; Costanza-Robinson, M. S.; Jones, J. K.; Write Like a Chemist, Oxford University Press, New York, 2008.

Communication Sciences and Disorders (CSD)

No specific guidelines have been posted by the department, in an effort to keep the senior project process as flexible as possible and to allow for individuality between projects.

In lieu of departmental guidelines, the Honors Program would like students to know the following information:

  • Students should contact the departmental Honors liaison early in the junior year to discuss the process, how to register for 499 courses, when to begin the process, how to select a project advisor, and other important matters.
  • The 3 semesters of 499 courses should produce a total of 6 credit hours.
  • Begin the project 3 semesters prior to graduation.
  • Obtain the consent of a full-time JMU professor in your major department to be the project advisor and two additional members to serve as readers on the project committee.
  • Review the information regarding the senior project on the Honors Program website.
  • Students should follow the Honors Program guidelines and customize their project and the process through consultation with their project advisor and committee.

If more help is desired, students may schedule an appointment with an Honors Program director.

Communication Studies (SCOM)

Honors Thesis Eligibility Requirements
  • Students must have a 3.25 GPA in the major in order to be eligible to write an honors thesis. Students must have a 3.25 in the major at the time they register for the 499A phase and they must maintain this 3.25 GPA while working on the honors thesis. If a student's GPA falls below 3.25, his/her committee will review the student's progress on the thesis and reserves the right to terminate the thesis process at that point. If the honors thesis advisor approves, the student may continue the project as an independent study.
  • Students should have completed SCOM 280 prior to beginning the thesis. Ideally, students will be enrolled in their second research methods class (SCOM 381, 383, 385, or 386) either before or concurrent with 499A.
  • Students who are interested in pursuing an honors thesis should meet with the SCOM honors program liaison no later than the first two weeks of the spring semester junior year or 3 semesters prior to graduating. The honors program liaison will discuss the honors thesis process and recommend potential chairs and committee members if the student does not already have a chair/committee established.
  • 499A can either be taken as a full semester course or as a second block course depending on when honors students are able to meet with the SCOM honors liaison.
Honors Thesis Committee
  • One-year/adjunct faculty will not be allowed to serve on honors thesis committees. However, we encourage students to consult with those one-year/adjunct faculty members who have expertise relevant to the student's thesis.
  • Honors thesis committees are comprised of three faculty members. The chair must be a member of the SCOM department. No more than one member may be from outside the department.
  • The honors thesis coordinator will be responsible for ensuring that committees include faculty members with expertise appropriate to the thesis topic. It is particularly important that the committee chair have methodological and substantive expertise that will allow the student to successfully complete his/her research. It is acceptable (and, in fact, often helpful) if one member of the committee does not have expertise in the subject and is able to view the material as an "outsider."
Honors Thesis Process
  • Honors committee chairs are responsible for assigning grades for the honors thesis.
  • If a student receives an “I” at any time they will not be permitted to register for the subsequent honors thesis course(s) (499B, 499C).
  • It is the responsibility of the committee chair and the honors student to work together to ensure that all materials are submitted to the Honors Program by the appropriate dates.

Computer Information Systems and Management Science (CIS and MS)

Eligibility requirements
  • Students must meet the admission requirements of the JMU Honors Program in order to be eligible to pursue an honors project. Students must also maintain the minimum required GPA of 3.25 while working on the honors project. If a student’s GPA falls below 3.25, his/her committee will review the student’s progress on the project and reserves the right to terminate the project at that point.
  • Students should complete CIS 221and CIS 304 prior to beginning the project (i.e., registering for CIS 499A). CIS 330 and CIS 331 should be completed by the end of CIS 499A, before students initiate work on the B portion (CIS 499B) of the project.
  • Students are responsible for completing and submitting all deliverables on time and formatted as specified in the policies and procedures of the JMU Honors Program on the Senior Honors Project webpage and in the Senior Honors Project Handbook (available online).
Committee composition
  • Honors thesis committees are comprised of three faculty members and one industry representative.
  • The chair of the honors thesis committee must be a member of the Computer Information Systems & Management Science department.
  • No more than one faculty member of the honors thesis committee may be from outside the department.
Grading
  • Students should follow the Senior Project Timetable in the Senior Honors Project Handbook for enrollment in CIS 499A (1 credit), CIS 499B (3 credits) and CIS 499C (2 credits). Barring extraordinary circumstances as determined by the CIS department head and JMU Honors Program Director, students will not be allowed to take CIS 499A and CIS 499B simultaneously.
  • A maximum of 3 credits from CIS 499 can be used as elective credits towards completion of the computer information systems major.
  • Grades will be assigned by the committee chair in consultation with the committee. Grading criteria for CIS 499C will include consideration of the written thesis and project presentation as described in Section 4. The chair will provide copies of interim deliverables and communicate the student’s grade to committee members each semester to keep them up to date on the student’s progress towards completion of the project.
Dissemination of Project Results
  • Both a hard (printed) copy and an electronic file of the written thesis must be submitted to the Computer Information Systems department head, in addition to the required electronic submission to the Honors Program.
  • In addition to preparing a written thesis, the student will present the project results in a public forum as scheduled by the committee chair.

Computer Science

Economics

No specific guidelines have been posted by the department, in an effort to keep the senior project process as flexible as possible and to allow for individuality between projects. 

In lieu of departmental guidelines, the Honors Program would like students to know the following information: 

  • Students should contact the departmental Honors liaison early in the junior year to discuss the process, how to register for 499 courses, when to begin the process, how to select a project advisor, and other important matters.
  • The 3 semesters of 499 courses should produce a total of 6 credit hours.
  • Begin the project 3 semesters prior to graduation. 
  • Obtain the consent of a full-time JMU professor in your major department to be the project advisor and two additional members to serve as readers on the project committee. 
  • Review the information regarding the senior project on the Honors Program website.
  • Students should follow the Honors Program guidelines and customize their project and the process through consultation with their project advisor and committee. 

If more help is desired, students may schedule an appointment with an Honors Program director.

Education

General Guidelines

1.     ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS

a)  Students not already in the Honors Program (as Track I or Track II) at the start of their junior year (or with 3 to 4 semesters remaining) must have a 3.50 cumulative GPA or higher to be eligible to begin a senior honors project as a Track III honors student.

b)      Students must have a 3.25 GPA in the major in order to be eligible to write an honors thesis. Students must have a 3.25 in the major at the time they register for the A phase and they must maintain this 3.25 GPA while working on the honors thesis. The honors thesis advisor will verify that each student's GPA meets these requirements before allowing them to register for 499(A, B, C) each of three semesters. If a student's GPA falls below 3.25, his/her committee will review the student's progress on the thesis and reserves the right to terminate the thesis process at that point.

c)     Ideally, students in teacher education programs should have completed EDUC 360 prior to beginning the thesis. 

2.     COMPOSITION OF COMMITTEES 

a)     499A students must meet with the honors thesis coordinator no later than the first week of class to define their topic and establish a committee. 

b)     Because serving on an honors thesis committee requires a commitment for at least three semesters, only faculty in tenure, tenure track, or renewable term agreement positions shall be eligible to serve in this capacity. However, we encourage students to consult with those one-year/adjunct faculty members who have expertise relevant to the student's thesis.

c)     Honors thesis committees are comprised of three faculty members. The chair must be a member of the College of Education possessing a terminal degree. No more than one member may be from outside the college.

d)     The honors program liaison will serve as a resource in helping students select faculty members with expertise appropriate to the thesis topic. It is particularly important that the thesis advisor have methodological and substantive expertise that will allow the student to successfully complete his/her research. It is acceptable (and, in fact, often helpful) if one member of the committee does not have expertise in the subject and is able to view the material as an "outsider."

e)     When honors students and thesis advisors initiate the thesis committee member selection process, they are responsible for notifying the appropriate honors program liaison. The program liaison will keep a record of theses assignments in order to provide thesis committee members updated information on honors program and policies and to monitor thesis committee members' obligations and opportunities to serve. The liaison will notify the Honors Program when a thesis advisor is identified.  

3.     CHECKPOINTS 

a)     Any incomplete received for one phase of the honors thesis course series (EDUC 499 A, B, C) must be completed by the time class begins for the next phase or the student will not be allowed to continue. 

b)     Barring extraordinary circumstances, students will not be allowed to take the A and B phase of the colloquium simultaneously. 

c)     EDUC 499 grades will be assigned by the thesis advisor in consultation with the committee. 

4.     CONTENT AND ORGANIZATION OF THE THESIS

Although theses will vary in precise structure and number of chapters, every thesis must contain the following sections: 

a)     Abstract: The title of the thesis must be followed by a one-paragraph (maximum 300 words) abstract that summarizes the research question, theoretical argument and/or hypotheses, research approach, and results.  

b)     Introduction: This section identifies the question the researcher is posing and explains why that question/problem is an important topic.  The introduction should also provide a brief overview of the paper's structure. 

c)     Literature Review: This section summarizes all of the major theoretical contributions by researchers in this field.  The purpose of the literature review is to demonstrate that the student has mastered the prevailing theories, and is familiar with how researchers measure, examine, or analyze the relevant concepts.  A literature review is not a long string of direct quotations from various authors; rather, the student must demonstrate their own understanding of this material by summarizing, analyzing, comparing, organizing, and critiquing this work in their own words.  It is particularly important to evaluate the strengths, weaknesses, insight, and utility of current research on this topic, rather than simply reciting others' works.  Are there gaps in the literature?  Unresolved controversies?  Poorly defined concepts?  In short, a thorough literature review will not only describe but critically assess the current state of the literature.  If the thesis involves an empirical test of hypotheses, these hypotheses must be justified based on this literature and formally stated in this section. 

d)     Research Design: The length and precise content of this section will vary based on the nature of the research question being posed.  However, this section must specify in detail the methods the student will use to investigate the research question.  The thesis is not a book report.  The student must make an original contribution to the discipline, and this requires having a research question that can be tested or evaluated in a systematic manner.[1]  This section details those systematic methods.  For empirical theses, this involves specifying the operational measures of each variable, data sources, and statistical techniques (or qualitative methods), and evaluating the reliability/validity of key measures and the internal and external validity of the overall design. Qualitative methods will include use of triangulation and established procedures for specific qualitative designs such as case studies, phenomenology, ethnography, etc. For normative theses, this involves specifying the analytical methods, sources, and standards of evidence the student will employ to answer a theoretical question, prove the credibility of a particular interpretation, or examine and test a new understanding of a specific text, concept or principle. 

e)     Analysis: One chapter will present the results of the data analysis, case studies, or application of the model/theory.  For normative theses, at least one chapter should focus on drawing reasoned conclusions based on the theoretical analysis of the question raised. This might involve the recognition of more than one credible interpretation.  The parameters for this analysis should be clearly established in the preceding section (research design).  Students must follow the requirements of the Honors College and the preferences of their thesis committee regarding the display of tables and figures, if these are to be used. 

f)     Conclusions: This section summarizes the results of the analysis and discusses the implications of these findings.  Where relevant, students should tie their findings back to the theoretical arguments and controversies highlighted in the literature review.  Depending on the research topic and methods used, the conclusions section may include conditional forecasts, suggestions for further research, or policy recommendations. 

g)     References: The bibliography will only contain works actually cited in the thesis.  It must demonstrate a thorough review of the literature.

5.     OVERLAP BETWEEN THE THESIS PROJECT AND OTHER CLASSWORK 

a)     Students may not turn in, for credit in other classes, portions of the thesis that are substantially unaltered. 

b)     Students may, with the permission of their thesis adviser and the professor teaching the course in question, turn in for course credit material that is related to the thesis project but differs substantially from the material contained in the thesis. For example, a senior seminar student may do a paper on the same general topic as their honors thesis, but must undertake a substantially different literature review (with a different focus than the thesis), develop new hypotheses, and conduct new data analysis. 

6.     GRAMMAR AND STYLE 

a)     All work must be edited before being submitted to the student's thesis committee. 

b)     The thesis is a formal project. Therefore, students will spell out numbers under ten, avoid contractions, and make sure all sentences are complete. 

c)     Any tables, charts, or figures reproduced in the paper must include information about the original source within the table/chart/figure. Similarly, if the student produces tables, charts, or figures on their own, any data source used to create these items must be cited as part of the table/chart/figure.  

d)     Unless otherwise specified by the student's committee, the citation style in the thesis must conform to the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 5th ed. (Washington, DC: American Psychological Association, 2001).

7.     GENERAL RESEARCH GUIDELINES 

a)     Because the purpose of the literature review is to portray the state of research on the topic, it will consist primarily of academic sources. An academic source is a book or article whose primary audience is academics, rather than the general public. (This typically means articles that appear in peer-reviewed journals and books published in academic or other scholarly presses). Magazines, newspapers, and books written by non-academics are not considered academic sources. A dataset is not an academic source, in that it contains no theory or analysis. Datasets must be cited in the references according to the preferences of their copyright holders. 

b)     Students should know the identity and qualifications of all persons cited in their thesis. Further, persons cited in the thesis should possess the appropriate qualifications for whatever claim they are making. While using the internet is an acceptable strategy for conducting research, students must adhere to the same rules for other sources when using the internet. This means that websites hosted by unknown individuals, such as Wikipedia, will not be cited, or used, in a thesis. 

c)     It is not appropriate to use the works of one author to summarize the work of another author. Rather than relying on Gordon Ziniewicz's characterization of John Dewey's research, for example, the student should read Dewey and cite the original work. Thesis chairs may consider exceptions if the work is obscure and unavailable, not in English, or otherwise unobtainable by the student. 

[1] "Original contributions to the discipline" could include (but are not limited to): testing an existing theory using new data, measures, or cases; synthesizing existing theories to create a new theoretical framework and then testing hypotheses drawn from this new framework; examining a fresh interpretation of a specific text, concept or principle.


EDUC 499A, B, & C Guidelines

The following guidelines address the expectations for completing the honors thesis in the College of Education.  The three course sequence takes places over a three-semester schedule beginning in the spring of your junior year.  You must register for each of the following courses. 

Students registering for the following courses must be in good standing with the Honors Program and must have a minimum 3.25 GPA.

EDUC 499 A (3 credits)

  • Designate an advisor immediately. If you do not already have a potential advisor in mind, contact the Honors Program faculty liaison for your department.
  • In consultation with your advisor, select two more members of your committee who serve as readers and resources.
  • Meet with the advisor and each member of the committee to discuss the thesis (topic, outline, and suggested bibliography) within the first 3 weeks of the semester.
  • Submit your draft outline to the committee by the 8th week of the semester (suggested format includes: abstract, introduction, literature review, research design, results, conclusion, and references).
  • Complete and submit an IRB application.
  • Complete a draft of chapters 1 and 2 by the conclusion of the semester.
  • During the final weeks of the semester meet with each committee member to discuss their reading of chapters one and two.
  • Your advisor may determine a regular meeting schedule to monitor progress.

EDUC 499B (2 credits)

  • Meet with your advisor and committee within the first week of the semester to review the thesis outline and chapters one and two.
  • Draft chapters three, four, and five by the end of the semester.
  • Your advisor may determine a regular meeting schedule to monitor progress. 

EDUC 499C (1 credit)

  • Conduct a joint meeting of your committee to review their readings of chapters three-five within the first 3 weeks of the semester.
  • During weeks 7 and 8 discuss final drafts of all chapters of the thesis with the advisor and each member of your committee.
  • The final version of your thesis must be submitted to your committee 14 days prior to the deadline for submission to the Honors Program (see the Honors Program website for information).
  • Your advisor may determine a regular meeting schedule to monitor progress.  

Unsatisfactory progress at any time may result in the advisor's termination of the thesis project.  Late work will be reflected in the course grade assignment.

Engineering

Purpose of this Document

This document contains guidelines to help you through the process of your Junior/Senior Capstone Honors project. It is designed to supplement information on the JMU Honors Program's website.

Contents of the Capstone Project

You will follow the guidelines set forth by the Engineering Design instructors. Although your Capstone Design Project is a group effort, your written individual Honors thesis will be completed without others’ help or participation. Your final thesis will mirror the attributes and deliverables detailed for the Capstone Design Project, but will be separate from your group’s thesis.

Honors Project Committee
  • ENGR 499A students must meet with their project advisor no later than the first week of class to define their topic and establish a committee.
  • Honors thesis committees are comprised of three faculty members. The project advisor will serve as the committee chair and must be a member of the School of Engineering faculty. In most cases, readers will also be members of the School of Engineering faculty. With the approval of the project advisor, one reader may be from another department.
  • The project advisor will be responsible for ensuring that committees include faculty members with expertise appropriate to the thesis topic. It is particularly important that the committee chair have expertise that will allow the student to successfully complete his/her research. It is acceptable (and, in fact, often helpful) if one member of the committee does not have expertise in the subject and is able to view the material as an "outsider."
  • Department faculty are expected to serve on honors thesis committees when asked to do so by the honors project advisor (unless they can provide reasonable justification for refusing). In making these requests, the honors project advisor will be sensitive to the number of thesis committees to which each faculty member is already committed.
Deliverables

In all cases, students must complete and submit a properly formatted written document (see information on the Honors Program website.).

English

Requirements for the senior honors project in English will be up to the discretion of the project advisor. The student, in consultation with the selected advisor, will design his/her own honors thesis project. Approval of the topic will be the responsibility of the advisor.

Beginning the project:

  1. Student selects a project advisor
  2. Advisor requests an override number from the department in order for the student to register for ENG 499A
  3. Student and advisor discuss possible members for the thesis committee
  4. Student and advisor discuss logistical details of the project
  5. Students typically begin 499 A in the spring of their junior year, 3 semesters prior to graduation.

The breakdown for credit hours is as follows: 

  • 499 A = 1 credit 499B = 3 credits 499C = 2 credits
  • All three courses are a full semester long (not block).

Finance and Business Law

Foreign Languages, Literatures and Cultures

Geology and Environmental Science

No specific guidelines have been posted by the department, in an effort to keep the senior project process as flexible as possible and to allow for individuality between projects.

In lieu of departmental guidelines, the Honors Program would like students to know the following information:

  • Students should contact the departmental Honors liaison early in the junior year to discuss the process, how to register for 499 courses, when to begin the process, how to select a project advisor, and other important matters.
  • The 3 semesters of 499 courses should produce a total of 6 credit hours.
  • Begin the project 3 semesters prior to graduation.
  • Obtain the consent of a full-time JMU professor in your major department to be the project advisor and two additional members to serve as readers on the project committee.
  • Review the information regarding the senior project on the Honors Program website. 
  • Students should follow the Honors Program guidelines and customize their project and the process through consultation with their project advisor and committee. 

If more help is desired, students may schedule an appointment with an Honors Program director.

Health Sciences

Students completing the Senior Honors Project must follow the thesis guidelines outlined on the JMU Honors website.  Health Sciences students will develop a proposal in consultation with a Health Sciences faculty member.  The project may be experimental research or may be more applied with practical use for some area of health sciences.  Those students wishing to complete a Senior Honors Project should first consult with the Departmental Honors Program liaison but they are free work with any faculty member who agrees to do so. 

First Semester:  HTH 499A:  1 credit

The purpose of this semester of the project is to develop plans for the project and submit the proposal with the completed signature page to the Honors Program by the deadline.  The student will consult with Health Sciences Honors liaison about their tentative plans for the project.  Then they student will ask a Health Sciences faculty member to be their advisor for this project.  They must also ask two faculty members to be readers for the project. Throughout the project the student should consult on a regular basis with the advisor to ensure steady progress on their project and to get advice on technical and professional issues for conducting the project and writing the paper.  The readers may also provide technical and professional help with the project.

Second Semester:  HTH 499B:  3 credits

By the end of the second semester of the Senior Honors Project the student should complete a comprehensive review of literature, have detailed project plans and complete IRB training and submit their proposal for IRB approval if necessary for their project.  The student should complete the equivalent of the first three chapters outlined in the section on Senior Honors Project Paper Content.   They may also collect data if appropriate during this semester.

Third Semester:  HTH 499C:  2 credits

The third semester of the Senior Honors Project is designed for the student to complete their project.  They should collect all data and conduct data analyses if appropriate, write summary, conclusions and recommendations (the equivalent of Chapters 5 and 6).  The student then submits final copy to their Senior Honors Project advisor and readers by the Honors Program deadline.


Senior Honors Project Paper Content
(this may vary depending on the exact nature of the project) 

Abstract - one page maximum  (write this last)

Chapter 1  Introduction

Introduction
Significance of the Study
Statement of the Problem
Research hypothesis (if appropriate to your project)
Research question(s)
Limitations of the Study
Definitions of terms 

Chapter 2 Review of Literature

Introduction
Subheadings for topics reviewed- write this deductively going from the broadest topic to those very specific to your project

Chapter 3 Methodology

Introduction
Sampling or Subjects - include IRB approval and protection of subjects
Instrumentation - include pilot testing here if appropriate
Procedures
Research Design (if appropriate)
Hypothesis (if appropriate)
Research question(s)
Data Analysis (if appropriate) 

Chapter 4 Results

Introduction
Results - may use subheadings for pilot test results and different variables
Only include the actual results.  Discussion of why or what occurred is included in Chapter 5.

Chapter 5 Discussion and Conclusions

Introduction
Discussion -include any possible explanation for your results
Suggestions for further research
Conclusions - what do your results mean? 
Brief concluding/summarizing remark 


Writing Style Guidelines

  1. Write in a top-down style 
    First present the high-level ideas of your work, then expand them. This applies to the overall organization of your paper as well as the organization of sub-sections and individual paragraphs. For example, by reading just your abstract a reader should get a high-level idea of what problem you are solving, how you solved it, why it is interesting, and how well it solved the problem. If the reader then reads your Introduction, s/he will understand these in a bit more detail, and so on.
  1. Conclude each paragraph, section and entire paper Each part of your paper whether it be a paragraph, a sub-section, a section, or the entire paper should have a conclusion. For example, each section should be written as follow:
    • 1st paragraph: main idea of section
    • middle paragraphs: expansion of the idea (further explanation or elaboration of the topic)
    • concluding paragraph
      Each section of your paper should be organized as: high-level important points first, details second, summarize high-level points last.
  1. Double space, 12 pt. font 
  1. Write in past tense
  1. Do not use unnecessary adjectives. 
    Unless you prove "all" or "always", likewise "none" or "never" --absolutes should not be used.
  1. Avoid assumptions of cause-effect. 
    The word "may" is preferred over "will" because you can't be sure of the results unless you have measured them. 
  1. Be very consistent in the order you list and then address items. 
    Write in the same order every time.  This includes variables, hypothesis, lists of schools, subjects etc.

History

The Department of History encourages students to write a senior honors project as part of its commitment to student research and writing in history. Any student already in the Honors Program as Track I or Track II with with a cumulative 3.25 GPA or higher is eligible to write a senior honors project.  Track III students (or students wishing to be admitted into the Honors Program with 3 to 4 semesters remaining) must have a cumulative GPA of 3.50 or higher to be eligible to write a senior honors project.

Early each spring semester, the department head will notify in writing those majors and minors who are eligible to write a senior honors thesis. The letter should indicate the senior honors project application process and deadlines for submission to the Honors Program, as well as indicate an information meeting day and time for interested students. This meeting would be used to explain the senior honors project process and answer particular student questions.

Students who plan to write a senior honors project must submit an application to the Honors Program early in April of their junior year. The application must include a working title, a project prospectus and a preliminary bibliography.  In addition, a committee of faculty members must agree to read the project.  Typically, this committee is three individuals:  a director who will guide and direct the project, and two readers who will review the project.  The faculty must agree that the finished project meets the expectations of a senior honors project. A copy of the completed Honors Program application, including the signatures of the faculty director and readers, must be filed with the Department of History at this time.

Once the application is submitted to the Honors Program, it is urged that each student meet with the entire committee sometime during April to discuss the project.  The intent of this meeting is to have a discussion among the committee members and the student about the project topic.  It is an opportunity to discuss possible research approaches (perhaps to help narrow the topic), to suggest primary sources and to consider questions.  Also, a basic review process should be considered.  For example, does the committee want to review each chapter as it is submitted, or do they want the director to review chapters, then send them along later?  Or, some committees may want to read a draft of the entire project.  Finally, this meeting is designed to help the student begin work on the project in a collegial manner, and to set expectations.

The Department of History honors project should be about sixty to seventy-five pages in length and must make use of primary sources.  Typically, the senior honors project is divided into chapters.  Students will register for HIST 499 in both fall and spring semesters, making the project a six credit hour endeavor.  The faculty director should be certain to record a final grade at the end of each semester's work and should consult with the readers, where appropriate, to determine the grade.

It is urged that beginning with fall semester, the student and project director meet on a regular basis (weekly or bi-weekly) to discuss the project and to help the student make satisfactory progress in research and writing.  It is strongly recommended that a draft of about one half of the project be completed at the end of the fall semester.  Students will receive a grade for HIST 499 fall semester, which indicates the progress made to that point.

A completed draft of the project should be submitted to the director before spring break.  A draft should be given to the readers in late March.  Such deadlines will allow all committee members the time to read and review the draft and allow the student the opportunity to make any necessary changes before the Honors Program deadline of mid-April.  The project should be about sixty to seventy-five pages in length.

The Department of History encourages its senior honors project authors to present their research at conferences.  Venues such as the National Council for Undergraduate Research (NCUR) and the regional Phi Alpha Theta conference (history honorary society) provide excellent opportunities for students to present a research paper based on their project.

The Department of History has a fund to help defray student travel research expenses.  Students who need to travel to conduct research are encouraged to petition the Clive R. Hallman Fund for travel funds.

Senior honors project authors will make a formal presentation of their research at a Department of History honors day that could also include recognition of other students and faculty (Mary Jackson Award, Carlton Smith Award, Raymond Dingledine Award).  Phi Alpha Theta and the History Club will organize this day of recognition.

Hospitality and Tourism Management (HTM)

No specific guidelines have been posted by the department, in an effort to keep the senior project process as flexible as possible and to allow for individuality between projects.

In lieu of departmental guidelines, the Honors Program would like students to know the following information:

  • Students should contact the departmental Honors liaison early in the junior year to discuss the process, how to register for 499 courses, when to begin the process, how to select a project advisor, and other important matters.
  • The 3 semesters of 499 courses should produce a total of 6 credit hours.
  • Begin the project 3 semesters prior to graduation.
  • Obtain the consent of a full-time JMU professor in your major department to be the project advisor and two additional members to serve as readers on the project committee.
  • Review the information regarding the senior project on the Honors Program website. 
  • Students should follow the Honors Program guidelines and customize their project and the process through consultation with their project advisor and committee. 

If more help is desired, students may schedule an appointment with an Honors Program director.

Integrated Science and Technology (ISAT)

International Affairs

FACULTY: Download guidelines for faculty (PDF)

You are reading this because you are considering writing an honors thesis.  If you choose to do so, it will provide some of the most satisfying aspects of your academic experience at JMU.  It will also provide some of your most frustrating academic moments.  To maximize your benefits and minimize the low points, the POSC department has created guidelines for this three-semester process.  It is a long road, but it can be well worth traveling if you can resolve two of the most persistent challenges facing thesis writers. 

First, thesis students are tempted in various ways to tackle too much.  Focusing your thesis is not a path to triviality.  Instead, it is the most feasible path to an in-depth analysis of important elements of the issues that drove you to choose a thesis topic.

Second, for most thesis writers, this is their first long, multi-chapter project.  This can be intimidating and the "blank page syndrome" is a tough hole to confront.  The only way out of that problem is to write.  Even if the rough drafts of chapters seem flawed to you, they are the best route to a satisfying thesis.  If you leave it all to a "big push," your final product will suffer.  In addition, the (unwritten) thesis will nag at you on and off.  Avoid spoiling the last semester of your JMU career by following the guidelines below.

POSC 499A

  • Participate fully in the thesis colloquium for POSC 499A organized by the POSC department.
  • Meet with each of the members of your committee - beginning with your thesis adviser - at least once during the first three weeks of the semester.
  • Submit your draft proposal to your entire committee no later than Tuesday of the sixth week of the semester (and submit your final proposal for signatures in advance of the Honors Program deadline).
  • Submit a detailed outline of the projected structure & content of your thesis by Friday of the eighth week of the semester to all three committee members. Attach an expanded bibliography of at least 30 sources; at least 15 of those entries must be academic journal articles.
  • Submit a full draft of your literature review to your committee by Friday of the twelfth week of the semester. Attach a revised outline of the entire thesis.
  • When you meet with your thesis adviser late in the semester to discuss this draft and your progress, you and/or your adviser may choose to establish a drafting schedule for POSC 499B appropriate to the structure and nature of your project.
  • Late submission of required work for the colloquium or for the thesis committee will result in a late penalty to be determined by your thesis adviser. The maximum late penalty is a half-letter grade deduction in the grade for POSC 499A for each day work due is late. Unsatisfactory work in POSC 499A would suggest that you should not continue your thesis project.

POSC 499B

  • Participate fully in the thesis colloquium for POSC 499B organized by the POSC department.
  • By Friday of the first week of the semester, submit a revised outline of the entire thesis to your committee.
  • By Tuesday of the sixth week of the semester, submit a full draft of the first substantive chapter of your thesis.
  • During the next two weeks, discuss your thesis with each of the members of your committee - beginning with your thesis adviser. Your entire committee may prefer to meet with you jointly. Alternatively, one or both readers may prefer to discuss the outline and bibliography over the phone or in written form.
  • Submit a full draft of your second substantive chapter to your committee by Friday of the twelfth week of the semester.
  • When you meet with your thesis adviser late in the semester to discuss this draft and your progress, you and/or your adviser may choose to establish a drafting schedule for POSC 499C appropriate to the structure and nature of your project.
  • Late submission of required work for the colloquium or for the thesis committee will result in a late penalty to be determined by your thesis adviser. The maximum late penalty is a half-letter grade deduction in the grade for POSC 499B for each day work due is late.

POSC 499C

  • Draft and revise portions of your thesis every week during the first two months of this semester. As noted above, you may or may not be held to a specific timetable during this time period. Regardless, you need to keep writing on a regular basis!
  • A full draft of your entire thesis is due to your committee no later than Tuesday of the sixth week of the semester. Your adviser may choose to set an earlier deadline.
  • During weeks 7 and 8, discuss final revision plans for the thesis with each of the members of your committee - beginning with your thesis adviser. Your entire committee may prefer to meet with you jointly. Alternatively, one or both readers may prefer to discuss the draft over the phone or in written form.
  • The final version of your thesis must be submitted to your committee 7 days prior to the deadline for submission to the Honors Program.
  • Late submission of required work for the thesis committee will result in a late penalty to be determined by your thesis adviser. The maximum late penalty is a half-letter grade deduction in the grade for POSC 499C for each day work due is late.

International Business

No specific guidelines have been posted by the department, in an effort to keep the senior project process as flexible as possible and to allow for individuality between projects.

In lieu of departmental guidelines, the Honors Program would like students to know the following information:

  • Students should contact the departmental Honors liaison early in the junior year to discuss the process, how to register for 499 courses, when to begin the process, how to select a project advisor, and other important matters.
  • The 3 semesters of 499 courses should produce a total of 6 credit hours.
  • Begin the project 3 semesters prior to graduation.
  • Obtain the consent of a full-time JMU professor in your major department to be the project advisor and two additional members to serve as readers on the project committee.
  • Review the information regarding the senior project on the Honors Program website. 
  • Students should follow the Honors Program guidelines and customize their project and the process through consultation with their project advisor and committee. 

If more help is desired, students may schedule an appointment with an Honors Program director.

Justice Studies

1.  ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS

a) Students not already in the Honors Program (as Track I or Track II) at the start of their junior year (or with 3 to 4 semesters remaining) must have a 3.50 cumulative GPA or higher to be eligible to begin a senior honors project as a Track III honors student.

b) Students must have a 3.40 GPA in the major or have permission of the department head in order to be eligible to write an honors thesis. Students must have a 3.40 in the major at the time they register for the A phase and they must maintain this 3.40 GPA while working on the honors thesis. The honors thesis coordinator will verify that each student's GPA meets these requirements before allowing him/her to register for 499 each semester. If a student's GPA falls below 3.40 his/her committee will review the student's progress on the thesis and reserves the right to terminate the thesis process at that point. 

c) Ideally, students should have completed JUST 399 prior to beginning the thesis. At the latest, students should complete JUST 399 by the end of the A portion of the thesis. The honors thesis coordinator will verify that JUST 399 has been successfully completed before allowing students to register for the B portion. 

d) Under normal circumstances students will receive a grade for each phase of the honors colloquium and at least a B grade will be needed to continue to the next phase.

2.  COMPOSITION OF COMMITTEES 

a) 499A students must meet with the honors thesis coordinator no later than the fourth week of class to identify a topic and establish a committee. 

b) One-year/adjunct faculty members do not serve on honors thesis committees. However, we encourage students to consult with those one-year/adjunct faculty members who have expertise relevant to the student's thesis.

c) Honors thesis committees are comprised of three faculty members. Under normal circumstances the chair must be a member of the Justice Studies department. No more than one member may be from outside the department. 

d) The honors thesis coordinator will be responsible for ensuring that committees include faculty members with expertise appropriate to the thesis topic. It is particularly important that the committee chair have methodological and substantive expertise that will allow the student to successfully complete his/her research.

3.  GRADING AND SEQUENCING 

a) Under normal circumstances students will receive a grade for each phase of the honors colloquium and a B grade will be needed to continue to the next phase. Should an incomplete grade be given the needed work must be completed by a time set by the committee chair in consultation with the honors thesis coordinator. 

b) Colloquium grades will be assigned by the committee chair in consultation with the committee and the colloquium instructor. It is the responsibility of the colloquium instructor and the readers to communicate concerns regarding the student's progress to the committee chair. The colloquium instructor will email students' grades to their committee members each semester so that readers are kept "in the loop."  

c) Barring extraordinary circumstances, students will not be allowed to take the A and B phase of the colloquium simultaneously. JUST 499A is typically taken in the spring semester of junior year and JUST 499B and C follow in subsequent semesters.

4.  CONTENT AND ORGANIZATION OF THE THESIS

Although theses will vary in precise structure and number of chapters, every thesis must contain the following sections: 

a) Abstract: The title of the thesis must be followed by a one-paragraph (maximum 300 words) abstract that summarizes the research question, theoretical argument and/or hypotheses, research approach, and results.  

b) Introduction: This section identifies the question the researcher is posing and explains why that question/problem is important.  The introduction should also provide a brief overview of the paper's structure. 

c) Literature Review: This section summarizes all of the major theoretical and empirical contributions by researchers in this field.  The purpose of the literature review is to demonstrate that the student has mastered the prevailing theories, and is familiar with how researchers measure, examine, or analyze the relevant concepts.  A literature review is not a long string of direct quotations from various authors; rather, the student must demonstrate his/her own understanding of this material by summarizing, analyzing, comparing, organizing, and critiquing this work in his/her own words.  It is particularly important to evaluate the strengths, weaknesses, insight, and utility of current research on this topic, rather than simply reciting others' works.  Are there gaps in the literature?  Unresolved controversies?  Poorly defined concepts?  In short, a thorough literature review will not only describe but critically assess the current state of the literature.  If the thesis involves an empirical test of hypotheses, these hypotheses must be justified based on this literature and formally stated in this section. 

d) Research Design: The length and precise content of this section will vary based on the nature of the research question being posed.  However, this section must specify in detail the methods the student will use to investigate the research question.  The thesis is not a book report.  The student is expected to make an original contribution to the discipline, and this requires having a research question that can be tested or evaluated in a systematic manner. "Original contributions to the discipline" could include (but are not limited to): testing an existing theory using new data, measures, or cases; synthesizing existing theories to create a new theoretical framework and then testing hypotheses drawn from this new framework; examining a fresh interpretation of a specific text, concept or principle. 

The research design section details these systematic methods.  For empirical theses, this involves specifying the operational measures of each variable, data sources, and statistical techniques (or qualitative methods), and evaluating the reliability/validity of key measures and the internal and external validity of the overall design.  For normative theses, this involves specifying the analytical methods, sources, and standards of evidence the student will employ to answer a theoretical question, prove the credibility of a particular interpretation, or examine and test a new understanding of a specific text, concept or principle. 

e) Analysis: One or more chapters which present the results of the data analysis, case studies, or application of the model/theory.  For normative theses, at least one chapter should focus on drawing reasoned conclusions based on the theoretical analysis.  This might involve the recognition of more than one credible interpretation.  The parameters for this analysis should be clearly established in the preceding section (research design).  Students must follow the requirements of the Honors College and the preferences of their thesis committee regarding the display of tables and figures, if these are to be used. 

f) Conclusions: This section summarizes the results of the analysis and discusses the implications of these findings.  Where relevant, students should tie their findings back to the arguments and controversies highlighted in the literature review.  Depending on the research topic and methods used, the conclusions section may include conditional forecasts, suggestions for further research, or policy recommendations. 

g) Bibliography: The bibliography will only contain works actually cited in the thesis.  It must include at least 25 sources.

5.  GRAMMAR AND STYLE

a) The honors thesis is a formal project. As such, citations must conform to a recognized academic style.  The exact format of the citations will be determined by the committee chair in consultation with other members of the committee.  

b) Any tables, charts, or figures reproduced in the paper must include information about the original source within the table/chart/figure. 

c) Students should consult the honors program stylistic guidelines for the appropriate manner to organize the thesis in terms of the internal organization of the thesis regarding such matters as headings, placement of tables, use of quotations, etc.

6.  QUALITY OF RESEARCH REVIEWED 

a) Because the purpose of the literature review is to portray the state of research on the topic, it will consist primarily of academic sources. An academic source is a book or article whose primary audience is academics, rather than the general public. (This typically means articles that appear in peer-reviewed journals and books published in academic or other scholarly presses). Magazines, newspapers, and books written by non-academics are not considered academic sources. A dataset is not an academic source, in that it contains no theory or analysis. Datasets must be cited in the bibliography according to the preferences of their copyright holders.

b) Students will avoid using Wikipedia for the reasons discussed above. Authors are not clearly identified by Wikipedia, nor will the student, in most cases, be able to ascertain the qualifications of any Wikipedia contributor.

7.  OVERLAP BETWEEN THE THESIS PROJECT AND OTHER CLASSWORK

a) Students should not turn in, for credit in other classes, portions of the thesis. They may, however, with the consent of the instructor, write on a topic that is an extension of their honors thesis project. 

b) Students who successfully complete all three phases of the honors thesis course may substitute the honors thesis for the senior seminar based on their performance in JUST 499B and the permission of the department head.

Kinesiology

A student is invited to do a Senior Honors Project in the following steps:

1. Dr. Trent Hargens requests a list of students with a GPA of 3.5 or better from Paula McMahan, the KIN department academic advisor.

2. Dr. Hargens sets up a meeting during the later portion of the fall semester that includes faculty and students.

3. Current Honors students with a 3.25 or better and non-Honors students with a 3.5 or better are invited to attend the meeting to discuss the possibility of completing a thesis. In the course of the meeting Dr. Hargens explains the process for an Honors thesis, timelines, course credit etc.  In addition, students who are currently completing a thesis are also at the meeting to answer questions from the student perspective.

4. Faculty will share their current research interests and projects at the meeting.

5. Students are then invited to set up individual meetings with faculty members to determine if there is a match of interests

6. The students who are interested in completing a thesis will initiate contact with the potential thesis advisor early in the spring semester

7. Students typically begin 499A in the spring of their junior year, 3 semesters prior to graduation, and complete the series of courses the following spring semester.

The breakdown for credit hours is as follows:
499A = 1 credit
499B = 3 credits
499C = 2 credits


Guidelines for completing a Senior Honors Project:

1. Submission of a written Introduction (chapter I) and Methods (chapter II) to a committee of two readers in addition to the thesis advisor

  • Detailed introduction inclusive of at least a background, rationale for the study, purpose statement, hypotheses and references.
    The Introduction should incorporate a review of the most relevant literature. The student should demonstrate clear understanding of the relevant literature and use it to provide a rationale for their study. The number of pages will vary depending on the topic, but the length will likely be less than a traditional full length literature review. Tables that summarize the literature may be included.
  • Detailed methods inclusive of subjects, procedures and statistics

2. Revise Introduction and Methods as agreed upon by the committee

3. Carry out the research and data analysis

4. Prepare a draft of the thesis under the advisement of the thesis chair. Thesis draft to include the following:

a. Signature sheet
b. Title page
c. Dedication
d. Acknowledgements
e. Table of contents
f. List of tables
g. List of figures
h. Abstract
i. Original Introduction (Chapter I) and Methods (Chapter II)
j. Manuscript (Chapter III) either

  • Conforming with author guidelines for the targeted journal, less line numbering or “generic” manuscript format if a specific journal has not been targeted at the time of the defense
  • References specific to the manuscript to be entitled “Manuscript References”

k. Appendices (IRB docs, forms, data sheets, etc.)
l. References (References for Chapters I and II, but not the Manuscript)

5. Revise thesis as required by the committee

  • Formatting must conform with item #5

6. Submit final thesis to the Honors Program

Management

No specific guidelines have been posted by the department, in an effort to keep the senior project process as flexible as possible and to allow for individuality between projects.

In lieu of departmental guidelines, the Honors Program would like students to know the following information:

  • Students should contact the departmental Honors liaison early in the junior year to discuss the process, how to register for 499 courses, when to begin the process, how to select a project advisor, and other important matters.
  • The 3 semesters of 499 courses should produce a total of 6 credit hours.
  • Begin the project 3 semesters prior to graduation.
  • Obtain the consent of a full-time JMU professor in your major department to be the project advisor and two additional members to serve as readers on the project committee.
  • Review the information regarding the senior project on the Honors Program website. 
  • Students should follow the Honors Program guidelines and customize their project and the process through consultation with their project advisor and committee. 

If more help is desired, students may schedule an appointment with an Honors Program director.

Marketing

No specific guidelines have been posted by the department, in an effort to keep the senior project process as flexible as possible and to allow for individuality between projects.

In lieu of departmental guidelines, the Honors Program would like students to know the following information:

  • Students should contact the departmental Honors liaison early in the junior year to discuss the process, how to register for 499 courses, when to begin the process, how to select a project advisor, and other important matters.
  • The 3 semesters of 499 courses should produce a total of 6 credit hours.
  • Begin the project 3 semesters prior to graduation.
  • Obtain the consent of a full-time JMU professor in your major department to be the project advisor and two additional members to serve as readers on the project committee.
  • Review the information regarding the senior project on the Honors Program website. 
  • Students should follow the Honors Program guidelines and customize their project and the process through consultation with their project advisor and committee. 

If more help is desired, students may schedule an appointment with an Honors Program director.

Mathematics and Statistics

Media Arts and Design (SMAD)

Military Leadership

No specific guidelines have been posted by the department, in an effort to keep the senior project process as flexible as possible and to allow for individuality between projects.

In lieu of departmental guidelines, the Honors Program would like students to know the following information:

  • Students should contact the departmental Honors liaison early in the junior year to discuss the process, how to register for 499 courses, when to begin the process, how to select a project advisor, and other important matters.
  • The 3 semesters of 499 courses should produce a total of 6 credit hours.
  • Begin the project 3 semesters prior to graduation.
  • Obtain the consent of a full-time JMU professor in your major department to be the project advisor and two additional members to serve as readers on the project committee.
  • Review the information regarding the senior project on the Honors Program website. 
  • Students should follow the Honors Program guidelines and customize their project and the process through consultation with their project advisor and committee. 

If more help is desired, students may schedule an appointment with an Honors Program director.

Music

This document describes specific guidelines and requirements for music majors completing a Senior Honors Project.  Honors Music students and their Project Advisors should use these guidelines alongside the official Honors guidelines on the Honors Program website.  The Honors Program website also contains many valuable resources relating to the project, such as a list of Senior Honors Project “Frequently Asked Questions.”

General Project Description

The Senior Honors Project is the culmination of your experience as an honors student at JMU.  It will also be one of your most in-depth undertakings as a music student.  Many Honors Program alumni cite the Project as the most fulfilling aspect of their honors experience.  But, as with any large undertaking, understanding the Project from the outset and adhering to all guidelines and deadlines is essential.

Honors Projects in music may take a wide variety of forms.  You may choose to gear your Project to your specific concentration (Vocal Music Education, Piano Performance, etc.) and/or career goals, or you may choose to work with a different issue entirely.  You might also choose, in consultation with your advisor, to base your project partly on one of your other capstone experiences as a music student (a senior recital, a portfolio, etc.).  Guidelines concerning the nature of your project are left fairly flexible to allow for a wide array of approaches. 

Beyond the specific requirements set forth by the Honors Program, there are only three concrete requirements for your Honors Project:
  • it must be largely new work (while your project may grow out of previous class or studio work, it cannot simply duplicate this work)
  • it must include a significant written component
  • it must represent an exceptionally high level of work, similar to what would be expected of a Masters thesis

Possible project ideas might include:

  • a research project based on a composer whose works you are performing on your senior recital
  • a musical composition, paired with a written document describing aspects of your compositional process
  • a research project on a musical period, place or specific issue that interests you
  • a research project related to music pedagogy
  • a lecture recital focusing on one composer, one issue, one region, etc., accompanied by a written document

THE PROJECT SCHEDULE

Overview

The Senior Honors Project is normally completed over a student’s final three consecutive semesters, during which the student registers for MUS 499A (1 credit, spring of junior year if on a normal 4-year track), MUS 499B (3 credits, fall of senior year), and MUS 499C (2 credits, spring of senior year).  While this is the typical track, you may begin this sequence earlier if you and your Project Advisor agree there is a compelling reason to do so.  Some music majors choose to begin the project a semester early to allow themselves to focus on recitals, etc. in their final semester.  Since Music Education students must complete the Project prior to student teaching, all deadlines here should be adjusted accordingly.

Detailed Schedule

(consult the Honors Program guidelines for additional important information)

1. Review the “Senior Honors Project” page of the Honors website by the beginning of your junior year or earlier.  Obtain:

  • dates for project orientation meetings, scheduled at the beginning of each semester, from the Honors calendar

 2. Identify a faculty advisor by the beginning of your junior year.  Your advisor should be someone with whom you have worked closely in the past, and who has intimate knowledge of the area on which you wish to focus. 

3. MUS 499A (1 credit, typically spring semester junior year):

The student and faculty advisor should meet periodically throughout the semester.  They should decide together on the general nature of the project, and should select two other faculty members to serve as readers.  If appropriate to the project, the additional readers may be professors from outside the School of Music.  The rest of the semester should be devoted to laying the project’s research/creative groundwork, developing a realistic timetable for project completion, and outlining the actual project in as much detail as possible.   

The student will complete a Senior Honors Project Proposal Application (available at www.jmu.edu/honorsprog/forms.shtml).  The proposal should total 3-7 pages, and must include 1) purpose and objectives, 2) project outline, 3) methodology and timeline, and 4) a bibliography.  The proposal should be a polished piece of writing, citing references properly wherever necessary.  A revised version of this proposal must be received and approved by the faculty advisor and readers and submitted with the application to the Honors office by the deadlines indicated on the Honors calendar (http://www.jmu.edu/honorsprog/events.shtml), which are in early April, late July, or early November, for students who take 499A in spring, summer, or fall, respectively.  Note that the application must be approved and signed by the student’s advisor and readers, the Director of the School of Music, and the Dean of the College of Visual and Performing Arts before submission.  Therefore, students are strongly advised to submit a complete draft proposal to their advisor several weeks in advance of this deadline.  

The Faculty Advisor and readers must ensure that the proposal complies with their expectations before they approve it. If the proposal is not approved and/or not submitted on time, the project advisor and readers should not allow the student to register for MUS 499B.  The project advisor will assign a grade for MUS 499A based on his/her own standards and expectations.

4. MUS 499B (3 credits, typically fall semester senior year):

The bulk of your work should be completed this semester, including a complete or nearly-complete draft of the project, leaving the following semester for revisions and formatting (see below on why this important).  The student and faculty advisor should meet regularly throughout the semester (at the advisor’s discretion, but ideally on a weekly basis).  The student should also communicate regularly with the committee (i.e. the two additional readers).    Since the Honors Project is fairly independent in nature, you will find it essential to establish and adhere to clear weekly and monthly goals.

5. MUS 499C (2 credits, typically spring semester senior year):

Review all deadlines and procedures for submitting drafts to your committee.  Format and edit your project.  Submit your formatted, edited draft to your committee.  After editing and reformatting your final version, submit your project to the Honors Program (see “Senior Honors Project” page on the Honors website for instructions).  Late submissions will impact your graduation date.  If an extension of the deadline is necessary, your advisor must notify the Honors Program Director via email. 

It is extremely important to note that in reality, you do not have a full semester to complete and submit your project.  While the project due date varies from year to year (see the Honors Program online calendar for current semester deadlines), the deadline is typically in mid-November (for December graduates) or mid-April (for May graduates).  The Honors Program recommends that you submit your project to them for a formatting review at least a week before the deadline.  Most importantly, you are required to give all of your readers (including your project advisor) a minimum of three weeks to review your completed project and give you feedback.  Remember that you must also leave yourself time after this for revisions, which may be substantial.  It should be clear from all of this and from the timetable below that MUS 499C allows little time for anything but the revision process.

A hypothetical timetable for MUS 499C:

Submit completed project to readers/advisor           before Mar. 3 [Oct.6 for Dec. grads]

Revisions based on feedback from readers/advisor    Mar. 24 – Apr. 7 [Oct. 27 – Nov. 10]

Submit to Honors for Formatting Check                  Apr. 7 [Nov. 10]

Final Honors submission deadline                          Apr. 14 [Nov. 17]

    (submission deadline varies from year to year)

OTHER INFORMATION

Since Senior Honors Projects in music vary greatly in nature and approach, research needs and requirements will also vary.  The Senior Project Handbook contains much information about formatting, research, copyrights, and other essential aspects of your project.  Beyond that general information, here are a few music-specific guidelines:

Style and Formatting

Writing about music is unlike any other writing experience.  You have several resources to help you, including your advisor and committee.  Before writing, you and your advisor should agree on which style manual you will use.  While different music fields use different styles, most use either Chicago Manual of Style (www.chicagomanualofstyle.org), Turabian (Kate Turabian, Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations) or APA style (www.apastyle.org). 

For music-specific writing issues (which is correct, “B flat major” or “B-flat Major”?), consult one of the following: 

  • Holoman, D. Kern. Writing About Music: A Style Sheet from the Editors of “19th-Century Music.” Berkeley: University of California Press, 1988.
  • Cowdery, James. How to Write about Music: The RILM Manual of Style. 2nd ed. New York : Répertoire International de Littérature Musicale, 2006.

Research Resources

Some music projects are heavily research-based, and some are not.  Since your research process and needs will vary widely depending on your topic, you should consult your Project Advisor for advice.  Of the countless research resources in music, the following are particularly helpful:

  • RILM Abstracts of Music Literature (Répertoire International de Littérature Musicale)

A highly searchable database of music literature published from 1967-present, and the best, most comprehensive single place to look for articles and books on music.  Most RILM records include an abstract of the book/article in question.  Over 5000 journals are represented.

  • WorldCat (FirstSearch)

By far the best database available for finding books (as opposed to articles) on any subject, including music.  WorldCat is simply a “master catalog” of items owned by libraries worldwide.  It also catalogs audio/visual materials, musical scores, and internet resources, but these records are far less complete.  WorldCat is a good place to start to find out 1) whether or not a certain item exists, and 2) which libraries (in the U.S. or abroad) own it. 

  • Dissertation Abstracts Online with Digital Dissertations (ProQuest)

            (search under “D” at www.lib.jmu.edu/resources)

Listings (with abstracts) of completed Doctoral Dissertations and Master’s Theses from 1861 to present, (though coverage is most complete beginning in the 1980s).  Most dissertations and theses completed from the 1990s-present are available in full text online. 

  • Oxford Music Reference/Grove Music Online (formerly The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians)

(available via the Music Library homepage)

The most comprehensive multi-volume encyclopedia of music.  Articles are written by area-specific experts.  Each entry includes a brief bibliography, and composer listings also contain that composer’s definitive works list.  This online resource is full-text searchable, and (in theory) is updated continuously when new information about a composer, etc. comes to light.  IncorporatesThe New Grove Dictionary of Opera and The New Grove Dictionary of Jazz.

Remember that if you need an item JMU’s libraries do not own, you may fill out an Interlibrary Loan request via the library homepage.  You will receive the item within a few days or weeks.

A Note about Academic Integrity:

The penalties for plagiarism or other honor code infractions—intended or not—are severe.  It is your responsibility to learn and understand source citation, copyright laws, and other such issues as they relate to your project.  If you have questions about any of these, it is always safest to ask your advisor. 

Please direct questions about this document or other Honors Project matters to the School of Music faculty liaison to the Honors Program and to your Project Advisor. 

Nursing

Philosophy and Religion

No specific guidelines have been posted by the department, in an effort to keep the senior project process as flexible as possible and to allow for individuality between projects. The department believes that the process is working well without the need for official guidelines.

In lieu of departmental guidelines, the Honors Program would like students to know the following information, which has been obtained directly from the Philosophy and Religion department:

  • Students should contact the departmental honors liaison early in the junior year to discuss the process, how to register for 499 courses, when to begin the process, how to select a project advisor, and other important matters.
  • The 3 semesters of 499 courses should produce a total of 6 credit hours. Each course is a full semester; there are no blocks courses in 499.
  • Begin the project at least 2 semesters prior to graduation; 3 semesters is preferable.
  • Obtain the consent of a professor to be the project advisor, and contact your academic advisor to inform him/her of your involvement with the senior project.
  • Review the information regarding the senior project on the Honors Program website.
  • Students should follow the Honors Program guidelines and customize their project and the process through consultation with their project advisor.

If more help is desired, students may schedule an appointment with an Honors Program director.

Physics and Astronomy

Political Science

FACULTY: Download guidelines for faculty (PDF)

You are reading this because you are considering writing an honors thesis.  If you choose to do so, it will provide some of the most satisfying aspects of your academic experience at JMU.  It will also provide some of your most frustrating academic moments.  To maximize your benefits and minimize the low points, the POSC department has created guidelines for this three-semester process.  It is a long road, but it can be well worth traveling if you can resolve two of the most persistent challenges facing thesis writers. 

First, thesis students are tempted in various ways to tackle too much.  Focusing your thesis is not a path to triviality.  Instead, it is the most feasible path to an in-depth analysis of important elements of the issues that drove you to choose a thesis topic.

Second, for most thesis writers, this is their first long, multi-chapter project.  This can be intimidating and the "blank page syndrome" is a tough hole to confront.  The only way out of that problem is to write.  Even if the rough drafts of chapters seem flawed to you, they are the best route to a satisfying thesis.  If you leave it all to a "big push," your final product will suffer.  In addition, the (unwritten) thesis will nag at you on and off.  Avoid spoiling the last semester of your JMU career by following the guidelines below.

POSC 499A

  • Participate fully in the thesis colloquium for POSC 499A organized by the POSC department.
  • Meet with each of the members of your committee - beginning with your thesis adviser - at least once during the first three weeks of the semester.
  • Submit your draft proposal to your entire committee no later than Tuesday of the sixth week of the semester (and submit your final proposal for signatures in advance of the Honors Program deadline).
  • Submit a detailed outline of the projected structure & content of your thesis by Friday of the eighth week of the semester to all three committee members. Attach an expanded bibliography of at least 30 sources; at least 15 of those entries must be academic journal articles.
  • Submit a full draft of your literature review to your committee by Friday of the twelfth week of the semester. Attach a revised outline of the entire thesis.
  • When you meet with your thesis adviser late in the semester to discuss this draft and your progress, you and/or your adviser may choose to establish a drafting schedule for POSC 499B appropriate to the structure and nature of your project.
  • Late submission of required work for the colloquium or for the thesis committee will result in a late penalty to be determined by your thesis adviser. The maximum late penalty is a half-letter grade deduction in the grade for POSC 499A for each day work due is late. Unsatisfactory work in POSC 499A would suggest that you should not continue your thesis project.

POSC 499B

  • Participate fully in the thesis colloquium for POSC 499B organized by the POSC department.
  • By Friday of the first week of the semester, submit a revised outline of the entire thesis to your committee.
  • By Tuesday of the sixth week of the semester, submit a full draft of the first substantive chapter of your thesis.
  • During the next two weeks, discuss your thesis with each of the members of your committee - beginning with your thesis adviser. Your entire committee may prefer to meet with you jointly. Alternatively, one or both readers may prefer to discuss the outline and bibliography over the phone or in written form.
  • Submit a full draft of your second substantive chapter to your committee by Friday of the twelfth week of the semester.
  • When you meet with your thesis adviser late in the semester to discuss this draft and your progress, you and/or your adviser may choose to establish a drafting schedule for POSC 499C appropriate to the structure and nature of your project.
  • Late submission of required work for the colloquium or for the thesis committee will result in a late penalty to be determined by your thesis adviser. The maximum late penalty is a half-letter grade deduction in the grade for POSC 499B for each day work due is late.

POSC 499C

  • Draft and revise portions of your thesis every week during the first two months of this semester. As noted above, you may or may not be held to a specific timetable during this time period. Regardless, you need to keep writing on a regular basis!
  • A full draft of your entire thesis is due to your committee no later than Tuesday of the sixth week of the semester. Your adviser may choose to set an earlier deadline.
  • During weeks 7 and 8, discuss final revision plans for the thesis with each of the members of your committee - beginning with your thesis adviser. Your entire committee may prefer to meet with you jointly. Alternatively, one or both readers may prefer to discuss the draft over the phone or in written form.
  • The final version of your thesis must be submitted to your committee 7 days prior to the deadline for submission to the Honors Program.
  • Late submission of required work for the thesis committee will result in a late penalty to be determined by your thesis adviser. The maximum late penalty is a half-letter grade deduction in the grade for POSC 499C for each day work due is late.

Psychology

Public Policy and Administration

FACULTY: Download guidelines for faculty (PDF)

You are reading this because you are considering writing an honors thesis.  If you choose to do so, it will provide some of the most satisfying aspects of your academic experience at JMU.  It will also provide some of your most frustrating academic moments.  To maximize your benefits and minimize the low points, the POSC department has created guidelines for this three-semester process.  It is a long road, but it can be well worth traveling if you can resolve two of the most persistent challenges facing thesis writers. 

First, thesis students are tempted in various ways to tackle too much.  Focusing your thesis is not a path to triviality.  Instead, it is the most feasible path to an in-depth analysis of important elements of the issues that drove you to choose a thesis topic.

Second, for most thesis writers, this is their first long, multi-chapter project.  This can be intimidating and the "blank page syndrome" is a tough hole to confront.  The only way out of that problem is to write.  Even if the rough drafts of chapters seem flawed to you, they are the best route to a satisfying thesis.  If you leave it all to a "big push," your final product will suffer.  In addition, the (unwritten) thesis will nag at you on and off.  Avoid spoiling the last semester of your JMU career by following the guidelines below.

POSC 499A

  • Participate fully in the thesis colloquium for POSC 499A organized by the POSC department.
  • Meet with each of the members of your committee - beginning with your thesis adviser - at least once during the first three weeks of the semester.
  • Submit your draft proposal to your entire committee no later than Tuesday of the sixth week of the semester (and submit your final proposal for signatures in advance of the Honors Program deadline).
  • Submit a detailed outline of the projected structure & content of your thesis by Friday of the eighth week of the semester to all three committee members. Attach an expanded bibliography of at least 30 sources; at least 15 of those entries must be academic journal articles.
  • Submit a full draft of your literature review to your committee by Friday of the twelfth week of the semester. Attach a revised outline of the entire thesis.
  • When you meet with your thesis adviser late in the semester to discuss this draft and your progress, you and/or your adviser may choose to establish a drafting schedule for POSC 499B appropriate to the structure and nature of your project.
  • Late submission of required work for the colloquium or for the thesis committee will result in a late penalty to be determined by your thesis adviser. The maximum late penalty is a half-letter grade deduction in the grade for POSC 499A for each day work due is late. Unsatisfactory work in POSC 499A would suggest that you should not continue your thesis project.

POSC 499B

  • Participate fully in the thesis colloquium for POSC 499B organized by the POSC department.
  • By Friday of the first week of the semester, submit a revised outline of the entire thesis to your committee.
  • By Tuesday of the sixth week of the semester, submit a full draft of the first substantive chapter of your thesis.
  • During the next two weeks, discuss your thesis with each of the members of your committee - beginning with your thesis adviser. Your entire committee may prefer to meet with you jointly. Alternatively, one or both readers may prefer to discuss the outline and bibliography over the phone or in written form.
  • Submit a full draft of your second substantive chapter to your committee by Friday of the twelfth week of the semester.
  • When you meet with your thesis adviser late in the semester to discuss this draft and your progress, you and/or your adviser may choose to establish a drafting schedule for POSC 499C appropriate to the structure and nature of your project.
  • Late submission of required work for the colloquium or for the thesis committee will result in a late penalty to be determined by your thesis adviser. The maximum late penalty is a half-letter grade deduction in the grade for POSC 499B for each day work due is late.

POSC 499C

  • Draft and revise portions of your thesis every week during the first two months of this semester. As noted above, you may or may not be held to a specific timetable during this time period. Regardless, you need to keep writing on a regular basis!
  • A full draft of your entire thesis is due to your committee no later than Tuesday of the sixth week of the semester. Your adviser may choose to set an earlier deadline.
  • During weeks 7 and 8, discuss final revision plans for the thesis with each of the members of your committee - beginning with your thesis adviser. Your entire committee may prefer to meet with you jointly. Alternatively, one or both readers may prefer to discuss the draft over the phone or in written form.
  • The final version of your thesis must be submitted to your committee 7 days prior to the deadline for submission to the Honors Program.
  • Late submission of required work for the thesis committee will result in a late penalty to be determined by your thesis adviser. The maximum late penalty is a half-letter grade deduction in the grade for POSC 499C for each day work due is late.

Social Work

Sociology

Theatre and Dance

Writing, Rhetoric, and Technical Communication

No specific guidelines have been posted by the department, in an effort to keep the senior project process as flexible as possible and to allow for individuality between projects. The department believes that the process is working well without the need for official guidelines.

In lieu of departmental guidelines, the Honors Program would like students to know the following information, which has been obtained directly from the Philosophy and Religion department:

  • Students should contact the departmental honors liaison early in the junior year to discuss the process, how to register for 499 courses, when to begin the process, how to select a project advisor, and other important matters.
  • The 3 semesters of 499 courses should produce a total of 6 credit hours. Each course is a full semester; there are no blocks courses in 499.
  • Begin the project at least 2 semesters prior to graduation; 3 semesters is preferable.
  • Obtain the consent of a professor to be the project advisor, and contact your academic advisor to inform him/her of your involvement with the senior project.
  • Review the information regarding the senior project on the Honors Program website.
  • Students should follow the Honors Program guidelines and customize their project and the process through consultation with their project advisor.

If more help is desired, students may schedule an appointment with an Honors Program director.