Spring 2019 Senior Thesis Deadlines
March 15 (11:59pm): Thesis completed draft due to advisor.
March 29 (4:00pm): Thesis prize deadline.
April 24 (5:00pm): Thesis due to department.
See here for more information about each deadline.
GUIDELINES FOR THE SENIOR THESIS IN ANTHROPOLOGY
The Department of Anthropology provides undergraduate majors with an opportunity to conduct research and to write a senior thesis formally presenting the results. All undergraduate anthropology majors have the option to complete a senior thesis but it is not mandatory.
Students must submit a thesis as part of the requirements to earn departmental honors. We encourage students to do original research as part of the thesis. Research opportunities may come from coursework, internships, laboratory and field experience, and through Academically Based Community Service. Students also may work on research projects directed by Anthropology Department faculty, Penn Museum curators, researchers, and staff, or advanced graduate students.
You choose the topic for the senior thesis in consultation with a thesis advisor. Your thesis might also be a substantially revised and expanded version of a paper written for a course in anthropology (see below.)
The form of your thesis project may be different from the typical formal paper described below. For a thesis project with an experimental or non-traditional format (a video, for example) you will work closely with your advisor to fulfill individualized departmental guidelines. By the beginning of your senior year, you should meet with the Undergraduate Chair to agree upon your timeline and evaluation measures.
Completed senior theses are published on ScholarlyCommons.
ANTH 300 is the Anthropology Research Seminar course that is a required capstone experience for all majors. This course is offered every fall and may be taken in either the junior or the senior year. Many students use ANTH 300 to propose or draft a part of the senior thesis.
To submit a complete senior thesis, you must also take ANTH 301: Senior Thesis during the fall or spring of your senior year. ANTH 301 is an independent study course, and your thesis advisor will serve as the instructor. You must take ANTH 301 at least once, but you may take it twice. If you take ANTH 301 twice, you will receive an "S" grade for the first semester of work. When you complete your thesis, your advisor will assign a final grade to both semesters of the project. To enroll in ANTH 301 you will submit a proposal for thesis work that has been approved by your thesis advisor by the end of the drop/add period for that semester. Contact the Undergraduate Coordinator or Undergraduate Chair to receive the Senior Thesis Proposal Form.
To graduate with honors, students must complete and submit their approved copy of the thesis to the Undergraduate Chair and Undergraduate Coordinator in addition to maintaining a 3.5 GPA on all courses applied to the student's anthropology major. Students must contact the Undergraduate Coordinator to "opt-in" (be considered) for graduating with honors.
Although the undergraduate thesis is often referred to as a “senior thesis,” we encourage you to define your research topic and find your thesis advisor by the end of your junior year. The role of the thesis advisor is distinct from that of your major advisor or primary faculty advisor, but the two advisors might be the same person. Your advisor will help you define and focus the thesis project and help you identify research materials, protocols for research, potential contacts in other departments, and funding sources for travel, research costs, and supplies. When your project is underway, your advisor will provide feedback during research, analysis, interpretation, and writing. You may have more than one advisor for the thesis.
Generally the thesis advisor is a Full, Associate, Assistant, or Adjunct Professor in the Anthropology Department. You may also petition the Undergraduate Chair to enlist an affiliated faculty member, a faculty member in another department or school, a Penn Museum staff member, or an advanced graduate student to advise your undergraduate thesis project. In the case of a non-Anthropology faculty member, you must arrange for a co-advisor who is a member of the Anthropology faculty. You should ask about your advisor’s schedule well in advance to assure that person would be able to work with you during the time you’ll be writing.
The Department of Anthropology recommends the following schedule:
Junior year (fall): Register for ANTH 300: Research Seminar (previously called Senior Capstone), required for all majors. This class will help you lay the foundations of your research. You may explore a topic and write a thesis proposal as part of this course. Preparation for research might include planning research protocols in a laboratory setting, meeting with librarians, museum curators, and keepers, and doing background reading on existing research. If human subjects are involved, it might include applying for Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval of your planned research methods. It might also include finding research funding from CURF or other sources.
Junior year (spring to summer): Define your thesis topic, and find a senior thesis advisor who is willing to supervise the project. Plan the basic library, field, or laboratory work related to your thesis project. Agree on a detailed outline of the senior thesis project with your thesis advisor and begin analysis of the data. Many students will work on their thesis research during the summer. Become familiar with computer software resources and research equipment from Weigle Information Commons and the library.
Senior year (fall): Register for ANTH 300 if you haven't taken it already. Work closely on your first draft of the thesis with your thesis advisor. Register for ANTH 301: Senior Thesis this semester and/or the following semester.
Senior year (spring): You may take ANTH 301: Senior Thesis this semester and/or the previous semester. You will complete your thesis and submit it following the deadlines listed below.
You will submit a completed thesis draft to your thesis advisor by March 15, 2019 at 11:59pm. Your advisor will review your thesis and inform you and the Department if it is acceptable for honors. If your advisor does not recommend your thesis for honors at this point, you may be offered the chance to revise it, in which case your advisor will set a deadline for revisions. In addition, the Undergraduate Chair will review the thesis and provide feedback to you and your advisor.
To be considered for the Departmental Thesis Prize, submit the final version of your Undergraduate Thesis to the Undergraduate Coordinator by March 29, 2019 at 4:00pm.
To qualify for departmental honors, submit the final version of your undergraduate thesis to your thesis advisor and complete the author agreement. Deliver one hard copy for departmental files along with the iThenticate review to the Undergraduate Coordinator and submit the digital copy for archiving via ScholarlyCommons by April 24, 2019 at 5:00pm. See the Thesis Submission section below for more information.
There are advantages to completing your senior thesis by the end of the fall semester of the senior year. If you plan to apply to graduate or professional school, post-graduation jobs, or internships, you should consider submitting a complete or near complete version of your thesis by fall of the senior year. The due dates for most graduate or professional schools, graduate scholarships, and internships are mid- to late-fall.
Many anthropology majors who are double majoring consider writing two senior theses. A senior thesis cannot be submitted for credit to two or more departments or programs. In rare cases, under special agreement between the senior thesis advisor and Undergraduate Chair in the Department of Anthropology and equivalent individuals in another department or school, you may petition to use your library or research data (or data set) for two separate senior theses, provided that your individual theses are framed within the theory and methods of the individual disciplines and/or departments. We encourage you to read the section Multiple Submission (Item D) in the Code of Academic Integrity.
The School of Arts and Sciences administers a number of competitive grants for undergraduate research. These funds can support travel, research and analysis related to a senior thesis in Anthropology. Detailed information on funding sources for undergraduate research is available through the Center for Undergraduate Research and Fellowships.
In addition, information on research opportunities may also be available on the Ben Franklin Scholars website and the University of Pennsylvania Guide to Fellowships, Scholarships, and Grants.
The Penn Libraries have a dedicated research librarian for Anthropology and Archaeology available to assist you, as well as online resources for research.
Training, ideas, and equipment for all kinds of research tasks are available through the library’s Information Commons. This includes camera and recording equipment and technology for interview transcription.
Help with statistical research skills (including STATA, R, and Excel) is available. See more information here.
Students working on qualitative and mixed-methods research can use software licenses maintained in the Department and get help here.
Your thesis may be a substantially revised and expanded version of a term or research paper written for a course in Anthropology or a closely related field (upon approval by your senior thesis advisor and the professor for whose course you wrote the original paper). However, keep in mind that your thesis must incorporate an anthropological approach, perspective, methodology, and/or theory. Please read the University’s Code of Academic Integrity carefully.
There is no set page length for the senior thesis in Anthropology. Since the goal of the thesis is a formal presentation of a research topic, your thesis must show evidence of substantial research on an issue or problem in Anthropology. You will work with your thesis advisor to agree on an estimated document length for your problem and material. In past years, senior theses have ranged from 20 pages to 120 pages.
Your thesis should minimally include the following:
- Title Page (separate page)
- Abstract (separate page)
- Text (separate section)
- References Cited (separate section)
We recommend including the following sections, although this structure may not be appropriate for all senior theses. The section titles can be altered to best reflect your content. You may also want to include sub-sections within these main sections.
- Title Page (separate page)
- Abstract (separate page)
- Table of Contents (separate page) [optional]
- Table of Figures, Table of Tables [optional]
- Background to the Research Problem (the intellectual framework)
- Research Design or Methodology
- Results (the presentation, analysis, and interpretation of the data)
- Endnotes (separate section)
- References Cited (separate section)
- Tables (separate section)
- Figures (separate section)
- Thesis Author Agreement (mandatory)
Your thesis must follow the Department's Senior Thesis Style and Formatting Guide.
1. When your revisions are complete, submit your thesis document to iThenticate and generate a Similarity Report according to the instructions in the iThenticate Guide. Submit your report and share your document with the Undergraduate Coordinator for review.
2. Submit one single-side printed paper copy of your thesis to the Undergraduate Coordinator. Please do not have this print copy of your thesis bound or hole punched— the department will bind your thesis as part of an volume for archiving in the Department offices.
3. Submit one digital copy via ScholarlyCommons (follow this guide for submission). This submission will include the completed Senior Thesis Author Agreement (on the last page of the submission guide), which must also be signed by your advisor.
*Students who submit their completed thesis for the thesis prize deadline must still review with iThenticate, hand in a hard copy and submit their thesis via ScholarlyCommons by the April 24, 2019 deadline.
Each year the Department of Anthropology awards a cash prize for the best senior thesis. A special committee made up of members of the Anthropology faculty will judge the submitted theses based on writing ability, originality of research, clear presentation of the problem or issue, research design, methodology, theoretical framework, and interpretation.
In 2019, the thesis prize deadline will be Friday, March 13. Please contact the Undergraduate Coordinator with any questions.
[This information was prepared by Clark Erickson in 1998 and revised by Erickson and Kristin Cahn von Seelen in Spring of 2006. It was further revised and updated by Ariel Smith in 2012, Shannon Renninger in 2016, and Kate Moore and Ruth Styles in 2018]