STS 190
STS SENIOR THESIS GUIDELINES AND DEADLINES
Fall 2003

 

GUIDELINES

Your senior thesis must be an argument. Take a position and defend it. Your thesis must be analytical and argumentative, but also plausible and balanced. Your thesis should lead the reader down a path of persuasion. As a writer you are trying to get me, your reader, to go on a trip with you over ground that you've already covered. But I'm a little bit lazy and the trip isn't going to be worth my while unless you make it so. If I decide to go with you on your trip it's because I don't want to do all the work myself. I'm depending on you to tell me what I need to know, when I need to know it and showing me why the trip was worth taking.
Lure me into taking the trip by giving it a catchy or interesting title. Reassure me in the beginning that you have my best interests at heart. Treat me like an equal but be sure to remind me, even if it's only with a phrase or two somewhere in the first paragraph, about the basics of the trip you're proposing and where we're headed. Show me that you know where you're going by giving me landmarks: paragraph divisions, conjunctions like "however," "although," on the other hand." Make the journey worth my while by showing me things are not as simple as they first seemed and yet what is complex can be made clear. The "thesis statement" of your thesis should be clearly laid out in the introduction. The body of the thesis will contain a collection of data, on the basis of which your argument is made. Your conclusion is not simply a restatement of the introduction. The conclusion, taking into account the position you've taken and developed in the paper, should refine and add to this position. It may reformulate the thesis in new terms, pose (or suggest) a new question, or look outward, backward or forward to an issue raised by your essay.
Length of your thesis is 70 to100 pages long (double-spaced, 1-inch margins). And, finally, make sure I can review the places you've visited on your trip, by showing me your sources and references in a bibliography taht is consistentle written in oncew of the coinventional reference styles (such as APA or Chicago Style).

MILESTONES

FALL SEMESTER:
Tuesday, September 2:
It is your responsibility to select two faculty readers, seek their advice, and keep them posted on your progress. You must be proactive in this matter. Your readers might be the Senior Seminar instructor or your academic advisor but neither must necessarily be a reader. It is important to have readers who are interested in and excited about your work, and can provide support to your endeavors. Give me your readers' names and whereabouts in writing, plus a brief justification of your choice, by Sept 30.
Tuesday, September 23:
Turn in a 1-2-page statement on the following questions.
1. What is the topic?
2. What question will you be asking in your thesis?
3. Why is it an interesting question? Why should anybody - member of the public, STS professor, student writing a thesis in another department - be interested in your topic and question?

Tuesday, September 30:
Thesis advisor names due. By this time, you should have met with your advisor and asked him/her for advice (take notes!) on:
· Strategies for honing topic to make it manageable but still significant
· Secondary and primary sources
· Timing
· Timeline for research and writing

Tuesday, October 7:
Thesis Prospectus Due
Turn in 5-7-page thesis prospectus covering the following questions; be prepared to give a 10-minute presentation in the next class.
1. What question will you be asking in your thesis?
2. What body of data will you use in answering your thesis question?
3. How will you collect this data?

Tuesday, November 4:
Literature Review due
Your literature review should survey what previous researchers have had to say about your topic. If they have not had anything to say, why not? If they have had lots to say, how do you expect to add to their work? Include an extensive bibliography of books, internet sites, journal articles, and other sources. Divide the listing into sources you have already read and ones that you still need to look at.

Thursday, November 20:
First draft of introductory (or other) chapter or prospectus due (about 15 pages, double-spaced) in my box (Smith Campus Center Basement) by 5pm.
This piece of work must include the following eight points, but it can take the form of an introductory chapter, a chapter other than the introduction (as long as it also includes the eight points), or a prospectus. It should show that you have honed your question into a manageable and significant shape, and that you have substantially engaged relevant literature so that you can properly frame your research problem or question. It must also demonstrate that you have a clear and coherent research design (and hopefully have made progress on the actual research already). If, for example, part of your research design is to do interviews, you need to, at a minimum, say why interviews are appropriate, the types of people you will seek, and what you expect to learn from interviews. If you can include a list of prospective interviewees, a sample questionnaire, a strategy for convincing the prospective interviewees to be interviewed, and a timeline for executing and analyzing the interviews, so much the better.

The Eight Points

1. What is the topic?
2. What question will you be asking in your thesis?
3. Why is it an interesting question? Why should anybody - member of the public, STS professor, student writing a thesis in another department - be interested in your topic and question?
4. What body of data will you use in answering your thesis question?
5. What have previous authors had to say about your topic? If they have not had anything to say, why not? If they have had lots to say, how do you expect to add to this conversation?
6. What are the limitations of the study (e.g. interesting issues that are outside the scope of the project, or possible criticisms of the methodology; all studies have limitations; it is best to be clear about them at the outset).
7. How do you expect to answer the question in your thesis? That is, how will you argue your thesis?
8. Bibliography.

 

Tuesday, November 25 - December 2:
Individual meetings in my office to go over first drafts.
Tuesday, December 9:
Final version of chapter or prospectus due in my box (Smith Campus Center Basement) by 5 pm.
The chapter/prospectus will be evaluated for overall clarity, intellectual range (are you able to situate your specific problem in a wider STS context?), the amount of effort reflected, and practicality, i.e., the extent to which you outline the actual steps you will take in doing the thesis.

Thursday, December 11:
Be prepared to give a 20-minute thesis presentation on your chapter/prospectus. Be sure to cover the "Eight Points."

SPRING SEMESTER
Work on your thesis over break. This will give you a running start.
First week of the semester, meet with your readers (together, if possible) to touch base and let them know your plans for the next few weeks.
Week of:
February 2, 2003: chapter outline and timeline for completing your thesis due to seminar instructor and thesis readers.
Thursday, March 25: First draft due to readers and seminar instructor.
Friday, April 23: Final thesis due to readers and seminar instructor.

May 4 (?): Thesis presentations, with dinner and CELEBRATION!!