Guidelines for Developing Honors Projects (HON 496)

Honors students and their thesis advisors often ask whether a proposed topic is appropriate to a Senior Honors project. The Honors Program encourages creative productions and performances, as well as more conventional research designs, so it is hard to make a general statement about form and content. However, the work must be original and of a scope that is beyond the level of a traditional undergraduate term paper or project, but something less than a thesis, or equivalent creative work undertaken for a Masters degree. We have literally hundreds of Honors Theses in the Honors Office, so stop by to take a look to see what others have done in the past.

All HON 496 students will have taken HON 495, “Introduction to Research,” in which they will have defined their project, but their proposals may need fine tuning, and sometimes may change more substantially. Since the majority of Honors students do follow more conventional research designs, the following guidelines might be useful for students and advisers in many fields as they consult to finalize the proposed project.

A. Significance of the Problem

  1. Is the project theoretically significant within its academic field?
  2. Is the project socially relevant, or inherently interesting, or have practical application beyond academia?

B. Literature Review

  1. Does the student demonstrate familiarity with the current state of research on this topic?
  2. Are all appropriate sources acknowledged?

C. Specification of the Research

  1. Is the research question clearly and concisely stated?
  2. Is the research methodology appropriate for answering the research question?
    1. How is the data to be gathered?
    2. How is the data to be analyzed or interpreted?

D. Presentation

  1. Is the overall organization of the proposal sound?
  2. Is the proposal relatively free from jargon, misspellings, and error?

Of course, format of proposals may vary, and we feel that it is important that project proposals be consistent with the general expectations of the individual’s field. Nevertheless, they should be more or less understandable by academics in other related fields, and preferably also by educated laypersons.

It is imperative that all research involving human subjects be reviewed and approved by the Committee on Human Studies (CHS) prior to the start of the research project. Applications and information may be obtained from the Committee on Human Studies at or by calling 539-3955.