Honors and Independent Study

The Chemistry Department encourages students to engage in independent research, which may be in the form of Independent Study or Honors Research projects. Requirements for Honors in Chemistry are described below.

Approximately half of departmental majors earn honors by completing two-semester independent projects and then reporting their work in formal Honors Thesis. Many majors not in the honors program also undertake independent research.

In addition to opportunities offered during the academic year, some students are able to participate with the faculty on summer research projects. On all projects, students share with their faculty adviser the responsibility for planning, executing, and reporting their investigations. The department stresses the importance of independent work, especially at the senior level, and believes that these experiences provide a more realistic exposure to science than that gained from course work alone. Students wishing to conduct a laboratory independent study project must have taken at least one 200 level laboratory-intensive course approved by the Department.

See a listing of past student honors projects to learn more.

Important Honor Project Dates

CHEM4001

Requirements for Honors in Chemistry

1. A “B” average (3.0 GPA) in courses submitted for the major. Courses submitted for the major shall include work in other departments that may be required for the Chemistry Major. If you have any questions about qualifying for honors please consult with a member of the Chemistry Department.

2. Two semesters of Independent Study during the senior year devoted to the study of a single topic.

(a) At the outset of the project, the student should clearly define the goals and objectives of the research with the advisor. This may include a written proposal or detailed literature search containing the requisite background material.

(b) Because independent study is not a highly structured activity, the Department expects students to approach it in a conscientious manner with full knowledge of the time commitment needed. The student should establish a schedule with their advisor that recognizes the commitment involved for the scholarly research proposed. This commitment will typically average 12 hours a week, including time spent in the laboratory and library, examining data, and thinking about your project.

3. Regular attendance at Department Seminars. To a large degree, the education of a chemist goes far beyond course and laboratory work and into the “real world” of the practicing chemist. The Department provides the opportunity to discover the world through regularly scheduled afternoon seminars presented by chemists in various professions. Typically the speaker will be available to discuss their job and related opportunities with students at pre- or post-seminar meetings.

4. Favorable consideration of the project by the Department at a mid-year review. This will be done before the end of the fall semester. The mid-year review will contain the following components.

(a) Submit a polished written summary (the Midyear Report) to the Department. This report should, at a minimum, include “Abstract”, “Introduction and Background,” “Methods,” “Preliminary Results and Discussion,” “Conclusions,” and “Future Work” sections. The “Introduction and Background” section may not exceed 10 pages, but there is no page limit for the other sections. This will be due Friday, 4 December 2018.

(b) An oral presentation by the candidate to the Department and other interested persons. This will be a 15-minute presentation based on the written summary and any preliminary
results. Each presentation will be followed by a short discussion of what was presented. This will be scheduled for Monday, 14 December 2018.

(c) A written response to the candidate from the Department. This response will note any areas the Department feels are weak in the candidate’s progress, and may also include recommendations for addressing them.

5. Second Presentation. This will be in the form of a poster presentation. Candidates are encouraged to study the posters of previous candidates currently exhibited in the hallways for useful presentation ideas. The presentation will be a summary of the results of the project based on the results and discussion section of the Honors Paper. The advisor will provide further details early in the second semester. These presentations will be during the Reading Period on Friday, 10 May 2019.

6. Favorable consideration of the Honors Paper by the Department. Requirements for the preparation of the thesis are established by the Faculty and may be obtained from the Librarian. In addition, the following deadlines, referenced to Friday, 17 May 2019, must be met.

(a) 26 April 2019 - Final draft of paper submitted to advisor. This draft should not contain excessive typographical or stylistic errors and you should consider it to be excellent, and not draft, condition. The advisor will likely make considerable revisions of the paper that must be addressed prior to submitting it to the Department.

(b) 3 May 2019 - Three copies of the paper (one copy for our advisor and two for the departmental readers) submitted to the Department. The paper should be in a form suitable for submission to the Library. Only a limited number of minor mistakes may be corrected at this stage. More than minor errors at this point are signs of sloppy, unprofessional work and will result in rejection of the paper and denial of Honors by the Department.

(c) 17 May 2019 - Paper submitted to the Librarian; you must also submit one final version of your paper (ordinary photocopier paper is fine) to the Department for its archives.

7. In unusual circumstances, certain students may find themselves unable to meet one or more of these requirements. In such cases, the student should meet with his or her advisor and discuss the possibility of petitioning the Chemistry Department for a modification of the requirements for Honors.

Guidelines for Chemistry Department Honors Paper

In addition to instructions published by the library, the Chemistry Department Honors Paper should adhere to the following guidelines:

1. Abstract: This is usually one or two paragraphs at the beginning of the thesis summarizing what was done, the results and the conclusions. It sometimes is difficult to summarize a year’s work in a brief form, so special care should be taken in writing this important part of your paper.

2. Introduction: Your paper should include an introductory chapter giving background material on previous work done on the subject of your project. Other logical sections include an experimental section, results sections, and discussion and conclusions section. Appendices should be used for computer programs and other sort of detailed information. Sections and subsections of paper should be numbered in some reasonable way (e.g. 1,1.1,1.1.2,1.2, etc. or Roman Numerals) as a guide to organization. These will be the basis for your Table of Contents.

3. References: Should be numbered consecutively with no ibid, loc. cit., etc. notations. Consult the American Chemical Society Style Guide for proper form for references. References should be grouped together at the end of the paper. General bibliographies of reading should not be given at the end of the paper. Give proper credit by giving a proper reference.

4. Figures: These should be numbered consecutively from the beginning to the end of the paper (don’t start numbers over for each chapter) and must include proper figure captions. Separate figure pages should not have page numbers and should be designed with margins sufficient for final binding. Neatness is particularly important here.

5. General Advice

(a) Plan ahead-leave enough time for figures, copying (if you need special paper, do not wait until the last minute), binding, etc.

(b) Read the official “Honors Papers for Deposit in the Library.” When in doubt or if you feel that there are contradictions between Chemistry Department Guidelines and Library Guidelines, consult your advisor.

(c) Consult previous Honors Papers (there is a good selection on Reserve in Hatch Science Library) for models of organization, form etc.

(d) When in doubt, ask question—the final form of your Honors Paper is the joint responsibility of you and your advisor.

6. In addition to the “official” copy of your Honors Paper to the Librarian, you must provide one copy to the Chemistry Department and one to your advisor. The latter two copies do not need to be on special paper, but they should be identical to the version submitted to the Librarian in all other respects.

GUIDELINES FOR CHEMISTRY DEPARTMENT HONORS THESIS

In addition to instructions published by the Library, Chemistry Department Honors Thesis should adhere to the following guidelines:

1. Abstract: This is usually one or two paragraphs at the beginning of the thesis summarizing what was done, the results and the conclusions. It sometimes is difficult to summarize a year's work in a brief form, so special care should be taken in writing this important part of your thesis.

2. Introduction: Your thesis should include an introductory chapter giving background material on previous work done on the subject of your project. Other logical sections include an experimental section, results sections, and discussion and conclusions section. Appendices should be used for computer programs and other sorts of detailed information. Sections and subsections of paper should be numbered in some reasonable way (e.g. 1, 1.1, 1.1.2, 1.2, etc. or Roman Numerals) as a guide to organization. These will be the basis for your Table of Contents.

3. References: Should be numbered consecutively with no ibids's, loc.cit.'s, etc. Consult the American Chemical Society Style Guide for proper form for references. References should be grouped together at the end of the paper. General bibliographies of readings should not be given at the end of paper. Give proper credit by giving a proper reference.

4. Figures: These should be numbered consecutively from the beginning to the end of the paper (don't start numbers over for each chapter) and must include proper figure captions. Figures should not have page numbers and should be designed with margins sufficient for final binding. Neatness is parcticularly important here.

5. General advice

a. Plan ahead--leave enough time for figures, copying (if you need special paper, don't wait until the last minute), binding, etc.

b. Read the official "Honors Papers for Deposit in Library." When in doubt or if you feel that there are contradictions between Chemistry Department Guidelines and Library Guidelines, consult your advisor.

c. Consult previous honors papers (there is a good selection on Reserve in the Hatch Science Library) for models of organization, form, etc.

d. When in doubt, ask questions--the final form of your Honors Thesis is the joint responsibility of you and your advisor.