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Department of Justice Studies - Guidelines for JUST 499 Students

 


 


 Guidelines for JUST 499 Students

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 Justice Studies department has created guidelines for this three-semester process. It is a long road, but it can be well worth travelling 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.

 

JUST 499A (full semester course, 1 credit)

  • This course typically is taken second semester junior year.
  • Participate fully in the thesis colloquium for JUST 499A organized by the Justice Studies department.
  • Once your committee has been established by the just honors thesis coordinator meet with each of the members of your committee – beginning with your thesis adviser—in order to establish clear expectations for the honors thesis project.
  • Your major tasks this semester are to 1) define a topic for the honors thesis 2) construct a thesis outline and 3) write a review of the literature essay.
  • Adhere to the deadlines established by the colloquium instructor. They will be given to you at the start of the semester. A typical listing of deadlines and projects for JUST 499A is as follows:
  • Submit your draft proposal to your committee chair and committee members 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 and content of your thesis by Friday of the eighth week of the semester to your committee chair. Attach an expanded bibliography of at least 25 sources; at least 15 of those entries must be academic journal articles.
  • Submit a full draft of your literature review to your committee chair by Friday of the twelfth week of the semester. Attach a revised outline of the entire thesis.
  • Present your thesis topic and literature review to the colloquium in the final week of the semester.
  • Meet with your committee chair during the final week of the semester to discuss your progress. This is a point at which both the committee chair and student should re-evaluate whether the honors thesis project should go forward to the JUST 499B stage regardless of the grade assigned and, if so, what the expectations are for the next semester.
  • Under normal circumstances at least a B grade is required to enter into JUST 499B.

 

JUST 499B (full semester course, 3 credits)

  • This course typically is taken first semester senior year.
  • Participate fully in the thesis colloquium for JUST 499B organized by the Justice Studies department.
  • Your major tasks this semester are to 1) revise your outline and 2) write at least the first two substantive chapters of your thesis.
  • Adhere to the deadlines established by the colloquium instructor. They will be given to you at the start of the semester. A typical listing of deadlines and projects for JUST 499B is as follows:
  • By Friday of the first week of the semester, submit a revised outline of the entire thesis to your committee. You should be aware that this may require work over the summer on your honors thesis so that you are in a position to meet this deadline.
  • 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 your committee chair and meet with committee members as directed.
  • Present an overview of your thesis problem, research design and findings to date to the colloquium in the ninth week of the semester
  • Submit a full draft of your second substantive chapter to your committee chair by Friday of the twelfth week of the semester
  • Meet with your committee chair during the final week of the semester to discuss your progress. This is a point at which both the committee chair and student should re-evaluate whether the honors thesis project should go forward to the JUST 499C stage regardless of the grade assigned and, if so, what the expectations are for the next semester.
  • Under normal circumstances a B grade is required to enter into JUST 499C

 

JUST 499C (full semester course, 2 credits)

  • This course typically is taken second semester senior year.
  • Participate fully in the thesis colloquium for JUST 499C organized by the Justice Studies department
  • Your major task this semester is to draft and revise portions of your thesis every week during the first two months of this semester.
  • You are also expected to attend the colloquium and serve as mentor for students in JUST 499 A & B.
  • Adhere to the deadlines established by the colloquium instructor. They will be given to you at the start of the semester. A typical listing of deadlines and projects for JUST 499C is as follows:
  • 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 your committee chair and other committee members as needed.
  • The final version of your thesis must be submitted to your committee 7 days prior to the deadline for submission to the Honors Program.