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BIOS 4941 Senior Research and Thesis Guidelines

For Students Not Pursuing Departmental Honors


Three credit hours of BIOS 4940 Undergraduate Research, senior, signed proposal form from research adviser, permission of course coordinator.

This course gives students who have experience in independent research—but who are not pursuing a degree with departmental honors—the opportunity to write an undergraduate thesis. In the thesis, students review the relevant scientific literature and present their research findings in the larger context of biology.

Course Content

Students are expected to have completed or be near completion of an independent research project with their faculty research mentor before enrolling in BIOS 4941 Senior Research and Thesis. This is reflected in a minimum requirement of 3 credit hours of BIOS 4940 Undergraduate Research.

BIOS 4941 Senior Research and Thesis represents the culmination of that research in the form of an undergraduate thesis and presentation. Students who are interested in a thesis must start planning with their research mentor and the Departmental Honors Coordinator in their junior year.

These guidelines are for students who intend to graduate in spring semester of their senior year; students who do not intend to graduate in spring semester should contact the Departmental Honors Coordinator for specific instructions.

Students are expected to spend approximately three hours of work each week for every hour of credit in BIOS 4941 Senior Research and Thesis. The student and faculty adviser should establish a timetable and benchmarks so that both clearly understand the progress being made. Please see the college guidelines for Student Responsibilities on theses for additional information.

The research adviser should serve as a mentor and role model for their student by providing guidance and training. The Biological Sciences Department recommends that students meet with their adviser weekly or every other week so that the student's progress can be evaluated on a regular basis. These are the minimum necessary interactions between student and mentor for the completion of 4941; however the majority of undergraduate students will require more mentoring. It is the adviser's responsibility to ensure that the student is making reasonable progress in research and writing. If in the adviser's opinion the student is not making reasonable progress, they must clearly indicate problems to the student, and Department Honors Coordinator, and provide appropriate guidance so that the student can either rectify the problem or modify their goals commensurate with their progress.

The thesis must contain evidence of original work, substantial research effort, and a sophisticated understanding of the material. The thesis will be a less extensive version of a departmental Honors thesis, as outlined in the guidelines of the College of Arts & Sciences Departmental Honors and thesis guidelines. The writing must show attention to quality and adhere to the editorial style of a subject-appropriate peer-reviewed journal. While not all students will produce data sufficient for a complete publication, the writing and level of work must be appropriate for publication. This is true even if the experiments fail or data are not statistically significant. To ensure high quality work, the Department Honors Coordinator must read and approve the thesis. If the faculty member chooses, the student may also submit the thesis to a third reader, especially in cases where the coordinator is not familiar with the thesis topic.

The presentation may take the form of departmental seminar, oral presentation at a scientific meeting, poster presentation at regional, state or national meeting, or a poster presentation at the Ohio University Student Research & Creativity Expo.

Required Textbook

Karin Knisely. A student handbook for writing in biology. Edition: 4th ed. Publisher: W.H. Freeman. This includes one-year access to Writer's Help 2.0. [ISBN: 9781319067908]. Approximate Price: $32. This book goes over writing, citations, bibliographies, posters and presentations. Students may purchase alternative copies (Amazon, etc.) for less money if they do not chose to utilize the online Writer's Help.

Grading reflects the quality of the written thesis and public oral presentation, as judged by the faculty mentor and a second faculty member on the thesis committee (generally the course coordinator).


Before enrolling in BIOS 4941

Complete 3 credit hours (1-2 credit hours per semester) of BIOS 4940, independent research with a faculty mentor. At the discretion of the research mentor and course coordinator, other research such as PACE or volunteer research, may be considered.

Junior Year – Spring Semester

By Week 10: Contact the DHC to review the pre-requisites, requirements of thesis and receive permission.

Senior Year – Fall Semester

  • Week 2: Students meet with the Department Honors Coordinator to determine whether they are progressing at an appropriate pace.
  • Week 8: The course coordinator enrolls the student in 4941. Students will have started to outline their thesis and collect appropriate references.
  • Week 15:
    • Journal of choice is due.
    • Signed progress report due to Department Honors Coordinator by Friday.

Senior Year – Spring Semester

  • Week 1: Meet with course coordinator to confirm schedule for completion of experiments, writing, and form of oral presentation.
  • Week 3: Meet with course coordinator to present outline of thesis and list of at least six references, as approved by research mentor. Generally, the student signs up to present their research in the Student Research Expo
  • Week 8 (just after spring break): Meet with course coordinator to review progress in writing.
  • Week 11: Complete draft, already approved by mentor, provided to second reader.
  • Week 12: Research Expo
  • Week 13: Complete draft, already approved by mentor and second reader, provided to course coordinator.
  • Week 14: Thesis complete and ready for submission to department.

Role of the Departmental Honors Coordinator

For any thesis, the Departmental Honors Coordinator requires the student to remain on track by following deadlines. The coordinator assists with basic scientific writing skills, including how to build a bibliography, use a reference manager (EndNote, Papers, Zotero a Free), and how to write.