Honors Thesis Style

THESIS SECTIONS
An Honors thesis must include the following sections, in the order listed below. Each section is to begin on a new page. Every section, except for the Signature Page and the Title Page, must have a section title. The section title should be in capital letters or bold or underlined, a little over 1 inch from the top of the page and centered between the left and right margins. A double space should separate the title from the text on the page.

1. Signature Page
This is the only page you don't create yourself. Please obtain the necessary signature page from the Honors Program office.

2. Title Page
See the end of this Manual for the proper format for a title page.

3. Abstract
Each thesis must include an abstract of not more than one page -- usually much less. The abstract is a summary of the thesis. For a traditional research thesis, it should generally include a statement of the problem, your argument (hypothesis), a statement of your methodology, your findings, and your conclusions. For acreative or problem-solving thesis, the abstract should typically include a statement of the creative goal or problem, the historical and/or cultural context of the work, a discussion of the medium/processes used in the project's creation, and the student's conclusions. The abstract summarizes a completed work, and therefore should be written in the past or present, not future, tense. The abstract will be one of the last sections of the thesis the student writes.

An example of an abstract for a traditional research thesis is as follows:

This is a study of the effect of education on police attitudes. A survey of the literature suggests that, the more education police officers have, the more tolerant their attitudes become towards minority groups. To test this, I was given permission to administer a questionnaire to members of the Oswego, NY, police department. The questionnaire consisted of demographic questions, including some about level of education, and several standard surveys addressing attitudes toward minority groups. I found no relationship between level of education and attitudes. The police in Oswego seem to have the same attitudes about everyone, regardless of the police officer's education. I believe this is because, when they are on the job, the police primarily deal with "bad" people or people in "bad situations" and do not differentiate among them. Also, Oswego has few "traditional" minorities, so it may be that the survey did not focus on those groups that the Oswego police see as minorities, possibly, for example, college students.

An example of an abstract for a creative thesis is as follows:

I wanted to explore the process of using poetic themes as inspiration for the creation of several pieces of visual art. This has been done a number of times in the past; for example, Monet's paintings based on the poetry of Rimbaud. However, I could find no examples of this in the area of print-making. I was inspired by the work of poet Charles Bukowski. After obtaining his permission to use three of his poems, I decided that his ideas could best be expressed visually using the intaglio medium, incorporating the techniques of etching, aquatint, mezzotint, and drypoint. While on the whole I am pleased with the outcome, it would have been beneficial to have had more contact with the poet, so that I could been clearer about his intentions.

4. Table of Contents
Every thesis must include a table of contents listing the contents and page numbers. Begin numbering with the "Advice to Future Honors Thesis Students" as Page 1 (that is, the signature page, title page, abstract, and table of contents do not have page numbers) and continue numbering consecutively through the acknowledgments, Author's Reflections, body of the text, bibliography, and any appendices. For more information, see Page Numbering, below.

5. Advice to Future Honors Thesis Students
In this section, students are to be self-reflective, giving any practical hints or warnings that they think might help other Honors Program students as they construct their own thesis in your area. This section should be at least 1 page long and will probably be one of the last sections students write.

6. Acknowledgments
In this section, students have an opportunity to express their appreciation to those who have helped them with their thesis or who have contributed to their academic and personal growth.

7. Author's Reflections
Every thesis project must include an Author's Reflections section. This is a very important part of the thesis. In it, the student describes and analyzes his or her intellectual or creative journey leading to this particular Honors thesis. It should be self-reflective, examining the student's growth as a scholar. This section should be at least 3 pages long and will probably be one of the last sections of the thesis the student writes.

8. Thesis Body
In a traditional research thesis, the body of the text generally averages 60-75 pages. In some disciplines, however, such as the natural sciences or mathematics, the thesis body may be shorter; in others, such as the humanities or social sciences, it may be longer. The format for the body of the thesis should follow the conventions of the student's discipline. The body will generally include a statement of the problem, a survey of the existing literature, your argument (hypothesis), a statement of your methodology, your findings, and your conclusions. Each section of the thesis body should have its own heading and should be numbered in the Table of Contents.

For a creative or problem-solving thesis, the creation or project itself (or, as appropriate, its hardcopy, photographic, video, or audio representation) is the heart of the thesis. However, the creation or project is not the entire thesis: the creation or project must be described in a thorough essay, usually preceding the creation or project (or its representation) in the body. The essay should describe the medium or project direction, discuss why the student chose this medium or direction (including its advantages and disadvantage) and this particular subject, describe in some detail the process that led to this creation, and self-critique the student's success in reaching his or her creative goals. In other words, the reader should learn exactly what the student did, why he or she did it, how well &emdash; in the student's opinion &emdash; it turned out, and what he or she would do the same or differently if they did it again. Students should also demonstrate their familiarity with similar work in their field by discussing its historical and/or cultural context. As with a traditional research thesis, the format of the body should follow the conventions of the student's discipline.

9. Footnotes/Endnotes
Students should use whatever form of citation that is dictated by the discipline in which he or she is writing. Your thesis advisors are a good source for advice on documentation.

10. Bibliography
The Honors thesis must include a bibliography of all sources cited in the thesis. Students should use whatever form of bibliographic citation is required by their discipline. The thesis advisor will provide students with the appropriate citation format.

In addition, if your discipline requires it, you must also include a list of sources consulted. This list, separately titled Sources Consulted, should follow your bibliography. Consult your thesis advisors about the necessity for including a Sources Consulted section.

11. Appendices
Any tables, graphs, illustrations, photos, or other material that the author or creator refers to in the thesis but does not include in the body of the thesis should be included as appendices, following the conventions of the student's discipline. As with all other parts of the thesis, appendices must also have 2-inch margins on the left side.

SUMMARY OF THE ORGANIZATION OF THE THESIS

Signature Page
Title Page
Abstract
Table of Contents
Advice to Future Honors Students
Acknowledgments
Author's Reflections
Thesis Body
Footnotes/Endnotes
Bibliography
Appendices (if applicable)

 


THESIS FORMAT
The Honors thesis format must adhere to the following standards:

1. Paper
Honors theses should be typewritten or laser printed on good quality 81/2 x 11-inch paper. Continuous-feed paper is not acceptable for an Honors thesis.
2. Margins
The left-hand margin must be 2 inches wide to allow room for binding. This applies to the entire thesis, including the title page and all appendices, diagrams, and figures. Top, bottom, and right margins should be 1 inch wide.
3. Type
The thesis must be typed or done on the computer in 10-, 11-, or 12-point size. The text must be justified on the left side. Unless your advisors insist on it, do not use full justification.
4. Line Spacing
The abstract, table of contents, Advice to Future Honors Program Students, Acknowledgments, Author's Reflections, and thesis body must be double-spaced. Footnotes/endnotes and the bibliography must be single-spaced within each entry and double-spaced between entries. The title page must be spaced and laid out as shown on the last page of this handout.
5. Page Numbering
Page numbers may be either at the top of the page or at the bottom, either in the center or at the right, but not at the left. Page numbers must be between 1/2 inch and 3/4 inch down from the top or up from the bottom. Page numbers at the top right or bottom right must be between 1/2 inch and 3/4 inch in from the right. In other words, page numbers must be within the 1-inch margins. For more information about page numbering, see Table of Contents, above.
6. Documentation
Students may use whatever form of bibliographic and footnote/endnote citation is required by their discipline. The thesis advisor will provide students with the appropriate citation format.
Sample Abstract

[Note that, in the printed thesis, the text will be off-center on the page but centered between the required [2-inch left/1-inch right] margins.]

ABSTRACT

This is a study of the effect of education on police attitudes. A survey of the literature suggests that, the more education police officers have, the more tolerant their attitudes become towards minority groups. To test this, I was given permission to administer a questionnaire to members of the Oswego, NY, police department. The questionnaire consisted of demographic questions, including some about level of education, and several standard surveys addressing attitudes toward minority groups. I found no relationship between level of education and attitudes. The police in Oswego seem to have the same attitudes about everyone, regardless of the police officer's education. I believe this is because, when they are on the job, the police primarily deal with "bad" people or people in "bad situations" and do not differentiate among them. Also, Oswego has few "traditional" minorities, so it may be that the survey did not focus on those groups that the Oswego police see as minorities, possibly, for example, college students.

Format for Thesis Title Page

[Note that, in the printed thesis, the title begins about 1/3 down the page.
Note also that the text will be off-center on the page but centered between the required [2-inch left/1-inch right] margins.]

Thesis Title
Student's Name
Candidate for (B.A., B.S., etc.) Degree
in (Major[s])

State University of New York, College at Oswego
College Honors Program
Month, Year