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A&S Departmental Honors Thesis Overview and Guidelines

Why is thesis work important? What is thesis work?

An educated society supports scholarship because it offers the potential to expand the range of human understanding. You have been partaking of the scholarship of others throughout your entire education. Completing a thesis allows you to make your own contribution to the process of explaining or enriching the physical, mental, social, and cultural elements that surround us. A thesis moves you from simply being a bystander to being a creator of knowledge.

In addition to its potential cosmic significance, undertaking a thesis creates opportunities for pragmatic personal development. A thesis:

  • Provides an opportunity to consolidate, expand, and refine the skills that are essential to your discipline.
  • Helps you understand how to communicate to a professional audience.
  • Plays a role in determining the initial direction of your career after leaving Ohio University.

Given that the advantages of thesis work are enormous, undoubtedly you are anxious to begin. Therefore it is time to move to the central question: "what in the blazes is a thesis?" Theses exhibit a variety of forms, but all share the following components.

A thesis . . .

  • Is based on substantial research using the standards inherent in a specific field.
  • Demonstrates a sophisticated understanding of the matters at issue.
  • Offers an interpretation. That interpretation does not have to be unique, but it cannot be simply derivative--it must clearly demonstrate insight and creativity on your part.
  • Conveys its conclusions in the form of a creative project or document that accords with guidelines designed to enhance its accessibility and its long-term preservation.

The majority of thesis work results in the production of a substantial written paper of variable length (the nature of your discipline often determines appropriate length), but depending upon your interests and the parameters of your discipline, a major component of your thesis work can be, and in some fields should be, a project that makes use of other mediums and/or modes. (For example, if you wanted to do your thesis work on factors influencing the retention of social workers in Appalachia and had the know-how-- and the approval of your thesis advisor-- you might choose to convey your interpretation of the issues relating to retention in the form of a documentary. While you would still need to have a written document outlining the research you conducted, the documentary could constitute a major portion of your thesis work.

This thesis handbook was closely adapted from information provided by the Honors Tutorial College. The College of Arts & Sciences gratefully thanks HTC for sharing this information.