Search within:

BIOS 4941H Senior Research and Thesis Guidelines

For Students Pursuing Departmental Honors


Three credit hours in BIOS 4940 Undergraduate Research, 3.0 GPA in BIOS, permission of faculty research mentor and permission of Tier III course instructor. Students who have completed a research project may chose, with agreement of their research mentor, to write up their research as a thesis. Students must also present their research as a poster or in a talk. The course is 3 credit hours and is graded. Students should contact the course instructor no later than the beginning of their senior year if they plan to write a senior thesis.

Course Content

Students must submit a Thesis Proposal Form [Word] signed by their research adviser to the Departmental Honors Coordinator. Students are expected to spend approximately three hours of work each week for every hour of credit in 4941H. 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 a student's progress can be evaluated on a regular basis. These are the minimum necessary interactions between student and mentor for the completion of 4941H; 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, the adviser must clearly indicate problems to the student and the Departmental Honors Coordinator and provide appropriate guidance so that the student can either rectify the problem or modify his or her goals commensurate with progress.

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.

Honors Timeline

Junior Year

Start doing research with a faculty mentor in the Biological Sciences Department (or the Biomedical Sciences Department).

Junior year – Spring Semester

  • Do research with a faculty mentor, usually including enrollment in BIOS 4940.
  • Discuss doing an Honors research project with faculty mentor. The faculty research mentor must agree to sponsor the Honors student and must work with the student to define the research project before the end of spring semester.
  • By Week 10: Apply for entry by contacting the Departmental Honors Coordinator. Students must submit signed proposal form from research adviser to coordinator.

Senior Year – Fall Semester

  • Students register for BIOS 4940H Honors Undergraduate Research. Prerequisites: 25 credit hours in BIOS, BIOS 4940 or other research, 3.5 GPA in BIOS, permission of faculty research mentor, signed proposal form from research adviser, and permission of Departmental Honors Coordinator. This course is designed for seniors in their first semester who plan to graduate with Biological Sciences Departmental Honors by having a high GPA, completing a research project, and writing an Honors thesis (BIOS 4941H). The graded course is for 2-6 credit hours (usually 4-6). If student has received a grant or other funding that precludes them from registering for research credit, they may appeal to the Departmental Honors Coordinator to write an Honors thesis.
  • Course outline: Students meet regularly with their research mentor while performing their honors research. In addition, students need to do the following:
  • Week 2: Meet with Departmental Honors Coordinator to discuss project and later assignments.
  • Week 7: Students submit a thesis outline to their research mentor and the DHC. The outline should be two-to-three pages long and should include a description of the research plus 10 annotated references (reviews and primary literature).
  • Week 14:
    • Deadline for acceptance of appropriate journal to use as formatting reference, an expanded (5 to 10 pages) outline, including all experiments, by the research mentor and Departmental Honors Coordinator.
    • Final grade assigned by the research mentor and honors coordinator.
    • Signed progress report due to honors coordinator by Friday.

Senior Year – Spring Semester

Students register for BIOS 4941H Senior Honors Thesis. Prerequisites: BIOS 4940H, 3.5 GPA in BIOS, permission of faculty research mentor and Departmental Honors Coordinator. Students who have completed a BIOS 4940H research project may write up their research as an Honors thesis. The thesis must contain evidence of significant research and thought, attention to writing quality and form, and should reflect well on the department and the faculty. The research mentor, the Departmental Honors Coordinator, and the College of Arts & Sciences must all approve the thesis. Students must present their research in a talk. The course is 3-6 credit hours (generally 4-6) and is graded.

Course outline: Students meet regularly with their research mentor while writing their thesis. The writing must show attention to quality and adhere to the editorial style of a subject-appropriate peer-reviewed journal chosen by the mentor and student in the fall of their senior year. The introduction for the honors thesis should be written for a basic biology audience, which requires a longer background than for a specialized journal article. The research mentor is the primary supervisor of both the research and the written thesis. If the faculty member chooses, the student also may submit the thesis to another reader for editing, especially in cases where the Departmental Honors Coordinator is not familiar with the thesis topic. This reader should be a faculty member who is not in the same lab as the research mentor. All materials submitted to Departmental Honors Coordinator or another reader must be pre-approved by the research mentor.

  • Week 2: Students meet with Departmental Honors Coordinator to discuss research progress, timeline, and College of Arts & Sciences Departmental Honors and thesis guidelines.
  • Week 7: Students should have registered for Ohio University Student Research & Creativity Expo or discussed appropriate poster presentation options with Departmental Honors Coordinator. See Deadlines for College of Arts & Science for Departmental Honors Designation in Commencement Program. Students must give the Departmental Honors Coordinator the thesis topic and a thesis title. The honors coordinator will forward this information, as well as the student and mentor's names, to the Office of the Undergraduate Studies in the College of Arts & Sciences for inclusion in the program.
  • Week 11: Deadline for submission of mentor-approved thesis to the Departmental Honors Coordinator and meet with the coordinator to review progress in writing.
  • Student will coordinate with the coordinator to schedule oral presentation (usually during the last three weeks of classes).
  • Week 12: Research Expo: Student must make an appointment with Dr. Randy Price in the College of Arts & Sciences office for review and approval of thesis format before submitting the final version.
  • Week 14:
    • The mentor and honors coordinator must sign the Thesis Submission Form [PDF]. The student delivers the form to the Arts & Science Office of Undergraduate Studies. The student submits a pdf version of his or her thesis to the Departmental Honors Coordinator and Arts & Sciences. Note: If students do not submit an accepted thesis until after week 14, the student may be eligible to receive an Honors designation on his or her transcript at a later date, but the Honors designation may not appear on the diploma.
    • Students give an oral presentation of their work to the department.
  • Finals Week: Faculty research mentor and Departmental Honors Coordinator assign letter grade for course. The student must graduate with an overall GPA of at least 3.5, in the major and overall in order to graduate with Departmental Honors. Their thesis will be uploaded to OHIOLINK and will be available to the public, unless special arrangements are made for delayed release.

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.