Senior Thesis Option

Deadlines for 2019-2020 Academic Year

Proposal Form Deadlines

  • Thursday, September 5, 2019 (5:00pm): Paper copy of Senior Thesis Proposal Form with signatures due to Undergraduate Coordinator for ANTH 301 enrollment in fall 2019.
  • Thursday, December 19, 2019 (5:00pm): Paper copy of Senior Thesis Proposal Form with signatures due to Undergraduate Coordinator for ANTH 301 enrollment in spring 2020. Students taking ANTH 301 in spring are encouraged to submit their proposal as early as possible in the fall. 

Note: Proposals for taking ANTH 301 in spring semester will be approved only if the student has already begun working on their project with supervision of an advisor in or before the previous fall semester.

Senior Thesis Deadlines

 

Contents

Introduction
Overview
Thesis Advisors
Research Ethics in Anthropology
Funding and Research Support
Thesis Format
Preparing for Your Senior Thesis Project
Proposing Your Senior Thesis Project to the Department
ANTH 301
Senior Thesis Style and Formatting Guide
Deadlines for 2019-2020 Academic Year
Deadline 1: Advisor Review
Deadline 2: Department of Anthropology Senior Thesis Prize
Deadline 3: Final Submission to Department
Graduating with Departmental Honors
Use of a Previously Written Term or Research Paper
Multiple Theses

 

Introduction

The Anthropology Department encourages all majors to do anthropological research. You may participate in research through coursework and opportunities such as PURM, field and laboratory experiences, internships, and work-study. You may work on research projects directed by Anthropology Department faculty; Penn Museum curators, researchers, and staff; or advanced graduate students. We encourage you to explore research possibilities early on. Motivated students have the opportunity go one step further by conducting independent research and writing a senior thesis, though completing a senior thesis is not mandatory.

Students considering the senior thesis option should discuss this possibility with the Undergraduate Chair and potential thesis advisors as early as possible, and no later than spring of the junior year. The senior thesis requires significant preparation and effort on the part of the student as well as their advisor(s). Though called a “senior thesis”, the process begins well before senior year. In addition, the quality of scholarship we expect exceeds that of the typical term paper. Considerable time and energy is required, which may preclude participation in other important aspects of undergraduate life, for example study abroad, summer jobs, or some extracurricular activities. Writing a senior thesis is not for everyone, and it is not the only way to get the most from your anthropology major. Because of these considerations, we hope you will reflect deeply upon what you hope to achieve through the senior thesis experience, and whether it is a good fit for you, before you begin.

 

Overview

The timeline for the senior thesis process is as follows:

  • In freshman, sophomore, and junior year, get experience doing anthropological research through coursework and opportunities such as PURM, field and laboratory experiences, internships, and work-study.
  • Enroll in ANTH 300 (the required Research Seminar), in fall of your junior year. While students may also complete this course in the fall of senior year, senior thesis students are strongly encouraged to enroll in the junior year, as it will help prepare them to conduct independent research.
  • By spring of junior year, you should start defining your research questions and methods with the guidance of your thesis advisor(s) and the Undergraduate Chair. Determine whether you need to submit your research protocols for IRB approval, and if so complete the CITI training and IRB submission. At this time, seek funding to support your research. Most research funding deadlines are in February and March.
  • Focus on data collection for your project during the summer between junior and senior year. You can also collect data in the fall of senior year, but it will leave you less time for analysis and writing, so summer is preferred.
  • Work on the analysis, writing, and revisions of your thesis throughout your senior year. Enroll in ANTH 301 (the Senior Thesis independent study) in fall and/or spring of your senior year. Students must take ANTH 301 at least once to fulfill the senior thesis requirements.
  • Submit your senior thesis in the spring of your senior year, following the senior thesis deadlines.

 

Thesis Advisors

For most students, the senior thesis advisor will be someone with whom they have already done research in another capacity. You should build connections with faculty members early by getting involved in research projects, internships, etc. This is the best way to form relationships that have the potential to develop toward a senior thesis project. Since serving as a senior thesis advisor requires a significant commitment of time and energy, it is best to ask someone who already knows you well. You should ask about your advisor’s schedule well in advance to assure that person would be able to work with you during the duration of your senior thesis project.

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.

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 also arrange for a co-advisor who is a member of the Anthropology faculty. 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. You may have more than one advisor for the thesis.

If you have an idea for a senior thesis project but you do not already have strong faculty connections in your junior year, it will be more difficult to find an advisor. If you are in this situation, we recommend you first meet with the Undergraduate Chair to discuss your project idea. Then, identify and reach out to out to 3 to 4 people who could potentially serve as an advisor. To identify possible advisors, search for people who research related topics and/or employ the methods and theory you plan to use.

 

Research Ethics in Anthropology

All students conducting senior thesis research must follow ethical research practices. Considerations for ethical research should begin with the American Anthropological Association Statement on Ethics, and discussions with your advisor.

Many anthropology senior thesis projects involve human research participants, and are therefore subject to review by the Penn Institutional Review Board. If your research involves human research participants, you must complete the CITI Training for Human Research. Then, you will need to submit your research protocols to the Penn IRB before your project is underway. The IRB will review your project and request changes, if needed. Research that does not need IRB review may include archaeological projects or those entirely based upon museum collections and/or archives. If unsure, ask your advisor and the Undergraduate Chair, or reach out directly to the Penn IRB Student Research Analyst.

You must collect and store research data in a secure and responsible manner. See Penn Libraries resources on Data Management and Planning for guidance.

Depending on your research, you may need certain permissions or clearances (for example, a background check or Child Abuse History Clearance.) You are responsible for determining if you require any such clearances, and securing them if needed.

The American Anthropological Association (AAA) provides a list of Ethics Resources that you should refer to as you develop your research project.

Finally, students must adhere to the University of Pennsylvania Code of Academic Integrity throughout the senior thesis research process.

 

Funding and Research Support

Funding

Many students receive financial support from at least one funding source to help cover research costs. Such funding can be used to support travel, research expenses, and analysis related to a senior thesis project. Most deadlines occur in March or earlier, so students who plan ahead and apply to funding sources in the junior year are much more likely to receive financial support.

The Anthropology Department grants a limited number of Undergraduate Research Fellowship awards every spring, and the Penn Museum also awards Student Field Funds. Juniors planning to complete senior thesis research are encouraged to apply to these funding sources, both of which have deadlines in March.

The Center for Undergraduate Research and Fellowships (CURF) maintains an extensive list of funding opportunities for undergraduate students, which we highly encourage students to explore. Sign up for the CURF mailing list to stay informed about opportunities.

Additionally, students in the Benjamin Franklin Scholars program may apply for BFS Summer Research Funding.

Research Support

The Penn Libraries have a dedicated research librarian for Anthropology and Archaeology available to assist you, as well useful guides on Anthropology, Archaeology, and Ethnography. There are also guides for specific software you may use, such as Excel and NVivo. Students working on qualitative and mixed-methods research can use software on computers in the Penn Libraries or the Anthropology Department student lounge.

The Information Commons provides invaluable resources including training, equipment lending, and software. This includes video and audio recording equipment and technology for interview transcription. Help with statistical research skills (including STATA, R, and Excel) is available by making an appointment for a Statistical Software Consultation.

Students interested in research on Penn Museum collections should consult with the Academic Engagement Department.

The Center for the Analysis of Archaeological Materials provides resources for students interested in archeological analysis and digital archaeology.

 

Thesis Format

The typical senior thesis is a long research paper. There is no designated required page length; however, your thesis must show substantial research on your chosen topic. You will work with your thesis advisor to agree on an estimated thesis length that is appropriate for your research topic. Previously, senior theses have ranged from 20 pages to 120 pages, depending on the focus of the research and the applied methods.

You may propose to complete your senior thesis in a format other than the typical research paper. For a thesis project with an experimental or non-traditional format (a documentary video, for example) you will work closely with your advisor to fulfill individualized departmental guidelines. In this situation, you must meet with the Undergraduate Chair to agree upon your timeline and evaluation measures before submitting your Senior Thesis Proposal Form.

 

Preparing for Your Senior Thesis Project

1. Devise a senior thesis idea based on your own interests and prior academic and research experience.
2. Identify your senior thesis advisor(s).
3. Establish your project’s specific focus and research protocols with the help of your advisor(s).
4. Determine whether you need to submit your research to the Penn Institutional Review Board (IRB). Most senior theses involving human subjects research need IRB review. If so, complete the CITI training and IRB submission well in advance of the time you will start collecting data. The review process may take several weeks and you may need to modify specific aspects of your project based on IRB feedback.
5. Apply for funding to support your research, if needed.

 

Proposing Your Senior Thesis Project to the Department

After you have adequately prepared for your senior thesis project, you must submit the Senior Thesis Proposal Form to the department for approval. The deadlines to do so are as follows:

  • Thursday, September 5, 2019 (5:00pm): Paper copy of Senior Thesis Proposal Form with signatures due to Undergraduate Coordinator for ANTH 301 enrollment in fall 2019.
  • Thursday, December 19, 2019 (5:00pm): Paper copy of Senior Thesis Proposal Form with signatures due to Undergraduate Coordinator for ANTH 301 enrollment in spring 2020. Students taking ANTH 301 in spring are encouraged to submit their proposal as early as possible in the fall.

Note: Proposals for taking ANTH 301 in spring semester will be approved only if the student has already begun working on their project with supervision of an advisor in or before the previous fall semester.

 

ANTH 301

ANTH 301 is the 1 c.u. senior thesis independent study course. To complete the senior thesis, you must enroll in ANTH 301 during the fall and/or spring of your senior year. Your thesis advisor will serve as the instructor for the course. 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.

The Undergraduate Coordinator will set up a section of ANTH 301 for you and issue you a permit to enroll after receiving your completed senior thesis proposal form by the appropriate deadline. You will not be able to find ANTH 301 in the Penn InTouch Course Search, since the sections are created on an individual basis.

ANTH 301 is not to be confused with ANTH 300. ANTH 301 is the independent study only for senior thesis students, while ANTH 300 is the research seminar required for all majors.

 

Senior Thesis Style and Formatting Guide

Your thesis must follow the Department's Senior Thesis Style and Formatting Guide.

 

Deadlines for 2019-2020 Academic Year

 

Deadline 1: Advisor Review

Friday, March 6, 2020 (11:59pm)

Description

You must submit a completed thesis draft to your thesis advisor. The draft must include your data, analysis and discussion, and bibliography. 

Your advisor will review your thesis and inform you and the Department if it is acceptable to earn departmental honors (contingent upon fulfilment of all other requirements for senior thesis submission by the departmental deadline.)

If the advisor does not recommend your thesis for departmental honors, they may offer you 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.

Procedure

Email your completed thesis draft to your advisor(s) by the deadline.

 

Deadline 2: Department of Anthropology Senior Thesis Prize

Friday, March 27, 2020 (4:00pm)

Description

Each year the Department of Anthropology awards a cash prize for the best senior thesis. A committee of Anthropology faculty members evaluates the submissions, looking for a clear and well-written presentation of original research with appropriate theoretical framework and methodology. Note that the thesis prize deadline is earlier than the final thesis deadline, and submitting your thesis for consideration for the senior thesis prize is optional. Your thesis must follow the Department's Senior Thesis Style and Formatting Guide.

Eligibility Criteria

Students must take ANTH 301 in either the fall or spring of their senior year, and the advisor must agree that the thesis is ready for submission.

Procedure

Email your completed senior thesis in Word or PDF format to the Undergraduate Coordinator by the deadline.

 

Deadline 3: Final Submission to Department

Friday, April 24, 2020 (11:59pm in student's local time)

[Note: For Spring 2020 no paper copy is required due to COVID-19 adjustments. Please ignore that step in the Submission Guide.]

Description

You must submit your senior thesis to the department following predetermined protocols. This multi-step process may take several days. Therefore, review the Submission Guide well in advance of the deadline to ensure you can complete the steps on time. Your thesis must follow the Department's Senior Thesis Style and Formatting Guide.

[Note: For Spring 2020 no paper copy is required due to COVID-19 adjustments. Please ignore that step in the Submission Guide.]

Procedure

Follow all of the requirements outlined in the Submission Guide by the deadline.

 

Graduating with Departmental Honors

Completing the senior thesis is one of the requirements for graduating with departmental honors (a notation of “Distinction in Anthropology” added to the student’s transcript upon graduation.) To earn departmental honors, students must:

1. Complete the optional senior thesis. Students must meet all requirements of the senior thesis by the appropriate deadlines, and the thesis advisor(s) and Undergraduate Chair must thereafter approve the thesis for honors.

2. Achieve a 3.50+ GPA in all coursework applied to the Anthropology major.

3. Opt-in to be considered for departmental honors by emailing the Undergraduate Coordinator no later than 30 days prior to your date of graduation.

 

Use of a Previously Written Term or Research Paper

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, but only with the express permission of your senior thesis advisor and the course instructor for whom you wrote the original paper. You must indicate this on the senior thesis proposal form. Additionally, the original paper must be submitted to the department with your senior thesis proposal form by the proposal deadline. Your senior thesis must incorporate an anthropological approach, perspective, methodology, and/or theory (even if the original paper did not.)

If you already carried out research with human subjects for the original assignment without receiving IRB approval, you must consult with your advisor to determine how to move forward.

See the University of Pennsylvania Code of Academic Integrity.

 

Multiple Theses

Anthropology students who are double majoring may consider writing a senior thesis for each major. A senior thesis cannot be submitted for credit to more than one department or program. In rare cases, students may petition to use library or research data as the basis for separate senior theses, provided that each individual thesis is framed within the theory and methods of the appropriate disciplines and/or departments. In order to do this, the student must petition and receive approval from the senior thesis advisors of both theses, the Undergraduate Chair in the Department of Anthropology, and the equivalent individuals in the other department, program, and/or school in advance of beginning the thesis process. See the University of Pennsylvania Code of Academic Integrity, Part D (Multiple Submission).