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One of the most difficult parts of conducting original research is scheduling your time. If you leave the writing to the last minute, you will leave inadequate time for revisions, and consequently produce a thesis that falls well below its - and your - potential.

This is YOUR work. Take ownership. Be proactive and lead the project at every stage. This is not like coursework where you are given detailed direction and timelines – you need to “direct” yourself and set your own timelines. Your thesis advisor will offer guidance but you are steering the ship!

Develop deadlines and stick to them. Work backwards from the thesis due date and block out time for each step in the process. Below is a recommended timeline for your thesis work. Work with your thesis supervisor to refine this broad timeline into smaller chunks of time (e.g., a monthly timeline).

Recommended Timeline

Fall semester of junior year

Take the Research Methods Class (RPTM 530); Early exploratory research and brainstorming; talk with faculty

Establish who your thesis supervisor is going to be; agree on the scope of your thesis project with your thesis supervisor.

Spring semester of junior year

Continue to refine and finalize the thesis proposal that you started in the fall semester (as part of RPTM 530)

Thesis Proposal Report (TPR) is due to the Honors College at least one year prior to your graduation

Summer/Fall semester of senior year

Complete the majority of data collection and analyses; refine introduction, literature review, methods chapter.

Spring or Summer semester of senior year*

(*dependent upon graduation date)

Write results, and discussion chapters; submit initial draft to your thesis supervisor and complete revisions.

Submit revised thesis to your thesis supervisor and receive his/her approval to submit it to the other members of your committee.

Submit your draft thesis for Mandatory SHC Format Review – Check dates for the semester in which you expect to graduate.

Oral defense of thesis

Present your thesis to your committee (in person for on-campus students; over teleconference/Skype for off-campus students). You should allow at least one week for committee review of your written thesis before the scheduled oral defense (or approximately three weeks prior to the SHC final submission due date).

Upon successful oral defense and conditional acceptance of thesis, incorporate committee member edits and submit to honors adviser and/or thesis advisor for final review. A good rule-of-thumb is to allow two weeks to make your final thesis revisions. This is particularly important for SHC students who are away from campus on internship (RPTM 495).

Once your thesis supervisor and/or thesis advisor approves your thesis as the final copy, obtain their signatures and upload an electronic copy of the thesis as listed the SHC thesis submission website.

Presentation of your work at the PSU Undergraduate Research Exhibition, held annually in April, is not required, but strongly encouraged if the timing of your thesis/graduation allows for this. You are also strongly encouraged work with your Honors Advisor and/or Thesis Supervisor to consider appropriate conferences and symposia to present your research.

Important Notes

  1. Work closely with your thesis supervisor to make sure that you are on track at all stages. It is a good idea to set up a weekly meeting with your thesis supervisor at which you'll provide updates on your work.
  2. Discuss with your thesis supervisor, early on in the process, how he or she expects to receive drafts of your work. For example, some thesis supervisors like to review each chapter draft as it is completed, while others prefer not to review any work until all chapter drafts are completed.
  3. Remember: The SHC Handbook and website (e.g., thesis submission guidelines) are your friends; become familiar with important thesis dates, required paperwork, and submission requirements as outlined in these materials.