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Schreyer Honors Thesis Writing Guidelines

Undergraduate Director/Thesis Adviser: Dr. Clemente K. Abrokwaa – cka1@psu.edu

Current Thesis Supervisor: Dr. Kevin Thomas

The African Studies Program does not have a standardized format for thesis writing for its majors in the Schreyer Honors College thus each student works independently with the professor (s) involved in his/her field of research. African Studies professors are therefore free to adopt any research design they may deem applicable to the needs of their students. However, students must ensure that the format chosen by the professor is acceptable to the Schreyer Honors College in order to avoid any discrepancies and problems when the time comes to submit their work. They should also work with the professor to select and agree on the topic and research design required. Furthermore, they must meet and discuss the key dates required by Schreyer Honors College, regarding submission of drafts and any other requirements. It is the student’s responsibility to work with the professor in setting up meeting days and times, keeping in mind the submission deadline. Students MUST understand that the Thesis is NOT like a term paper; what they write will require several corrections by the Adviser/Supervisor thus they need to budget more time for its completion. It is strongly suggested that students contact the would-be Adviser/Supervisor in their Junior year, or even earlier, to begin thinking and working on it to avoid any frustrations at the end due to lack of time.

The nature of the topic chosen will dictate the research design to be pursued but it is likely that a majority of the topics will follow this pattern listed below:

The Thesis Format:

The Thesis format will comprise the following:

Thesis Topic: This should be decided in consultation with the Thesis Adviser.

  1. A Thesis Proposal (see section A below for details)
  2. A Literature Review (see section B below for details)
  3. Research Report & Analysis (see section C below for details)
  4. Summary, Conclusions, and Recommendations (see section D below for details)
  5. Implications for Further Study (see section E below for details)
  6. References (see section F below for details)

 

A. The Thesis Proposal:

The Thesis Proposal will include the following sections:

  • The Purpose of The Study – this section will state clearly the nature of the study and its main objectives to be achieved. This should be a paragraph in length but should be clear enough to guide the researcher throughout the study.
  • The Problem – This section should delineate why the research is a problem thus requiring investigation. In other words, what sets the study apart from other studies conducted on the same or similar topic.
  • Background To The Problem – This section should provide a brief background overview of the problem stated earlier, including its history, nature and effects, to give a sense of what to expect when the study is completed.
  • Hypothesis – This section provides the researcher’s assumption (s) of what he/she expects to find at the end of the study, and whether or not the initial assumption (s) will be confirmed by the findings.
  • Significance of The Study – This section articulates the importance of the study to extant body of literature on the subject, as well as to various groups such as academics, universities and other public and private groups and individuals.
  • Methodology/Data CollectionThis section discusses how the researcher intends to collect data for the study and where. In other words, the researcher should describe briefly, the techniques to be used to gather information for the research. This will include, among others, library resources such as books, journals, videos, special documents, microfilms, newspaper articles, Internet sources MINUS the use of Wikipedia! In addition, the use of interviews and the type of interviews whether structured, open-ended or other forms. If the student intends to use structured or semi-structured interview techniques, they should ensure to develop these questions early to discuss them with the Adviser or Supervisor for approval as well as for submission to the Penn State Institutional Review Board (IRB) for final approval, since the interviews will involve human subjects.
  • Research Questions -- This final section of the proposal should provide at least 4 (Four) main questions that will guide the researcher in their collection of data and writing of the thesis. 

B. Literature Review:

This section of the Thesis surveys and reviews some of the major literature that exists on the research topic area. The review will assist the researcher to learn more about the area of study and acquaint them with some of the current theoretical assumptions posited by experts, as well as new trends in the chosen area of the discipline. The review will also introduce the researcher to the major authors in the field and some of the important studies conducted on the topic by other investigators.

C. Research Report:

The section presents the research report in detail, based on the research questions posed earlier.

D. Summary, Conclusions, and Recommendations

This final Section provides a brief summary of the study, the conclusions gleaned from the research, and the recommendations proposed for use or consideration by those for whom the study is listed as significant.

E. Implications for Further Study:

The researcher should propose two or three implications from the findings for further study.

F. References:

The final Section consists of the References/Bibliography for the Study. Advisers may choose whichever style they want for the student to follow throughout the study.