CONTACT:
Richard M. Kliman
Chair, Department of Biological Sciences
rmkliman@cedarcrest.edu
610-437-4471 ext. 3501

Thesis Guidelines

All students who choose to add the Thesis Option to their Biology, Biodiversity and Conservation Biology, Genetic Engineering, Neuroscience, or Nuclear Medicine Technology major are required to conduct an independent senior research project. Planning for this project will begin during the fall of the student's junior year as she selects a research advisor and develops her project proposal. The project will be conducted for at least two semesters and conclude with a departmental seminar in which students will present their work in either a poster or seminar talk. The student will also write up her work in the format listed later in this document. Upon successful completion of the thesis option, students will have the title of their thesis printed on their transcripts and they will be awarded a thesis cord to wear at graduation.

The goals of this project are as follows:

Junior Year

During the fall semester of the student's junior year, she will be asked to select a research advisor and develop her research project. All students pursuing an Honors diploma through the Cedar Crest College Honors Program should refer to the Honors Policy for additional requirements and deadlines.

Project Type

Students have two options for their senior research project available to them. The laboratory/field project involves conducting experimental research in the student's area of interest. This research will be conducted at Cedar Crest College; research conducted as part of a summer internship will not count towards the thesis option. In consultation with her research advisor, the student will develop an original project, conduct experiments, and draw conclusions from the results.

The library research project involves developing a question of scientific or educational significance and conducting a significant literature review to answer the question and discuss its relevance to the scientific community. Primarily, the student's interests and those of the research advisor should guide the choice of the research question. A preliminary meeting should be made with librarians at the Cressman Library to learn the latest literature searching tools. The student should also work closely with her research advisor on becoming familiar with the range of literature sources that are available in the field (e.g., primary resources, secondary resources, important review papers, web-based information).

Selecting a Research Advisor

The research advisor should have compatible research interests and be willing to guide the student through the development and oversight of her research project. To help students learn about potential projects, departmental faculty will give research presentations as part of the Junior Colloquium Course (BIO 350). Students are not required to select an advisor from within their specific field, as interdisciplinary approaches are often beneficial to the advancement of science. In addition, students are not limited to the expertise of the departmental faculty, as students may conduct research with faculty outside of the department (e.g., in the Chemistry or Psychology Departments or with an advisor at another LVAIC institution), if it is acceptable to the professor you have selected. Please note that all students selecting research advisors from outside of the department must choose a second advisor, their departmental research advisor, from within the Department of Biological Sciences, as outlined below. Once the student has chosen a research advisor(s), they should meet to discuss potential research projects. A one page project summary that addresses the basic project and mentions the professor(s) with whom the student will be working will be submitted to the student's Junior Colloquium instructor as indicated on the course syllabus.

Writing a Proposal

While the advisor may assist the student in the development of her project proposal, this is an independent project and the student is responsible for doing most of the work. A literature review to gather pertinent background information to be incorporated into the proposal should be conducted. Once a foundation for the project has been established, the student should begin to develop her hypothesis and outline how she plans to investigate her particular research question. Finally, she should determine the supplies required for the project and develop a timeline for completion. This information should be assimilated into a coherent document (see Proposal Format section below) and be submitted to the student's research advisor for review.

Proposal Format

The proposal should present the:

The proposal should have the following sections:

Research Proposals

Proposals for Research Conducted within the Department of Biological Sciences

A draft of the written proposal should be given to the student's research advisor by mid-November, as indicated on the Junior Colloquium syllabus. The research advisor, who will review the proposal, and the student, should make any necessary revisions. Once both the student and research advisor agree upon the proposal, the advisor should acknowledge approval (signature on cover page). The proposal (with signature) will then be submitted as part of the Junior Colloquium course by the date indicated on the course syllabus.

Proposals for Research Conducted within other CCC or LVAIC Departments

The student should satisfy the policy as written above for students conducting research within the Department of Biological Sciences; however, the student must obtain a departmental research advisor of her choice who reviews the proposal and determines whether it meets the departmental standards for senior research. The departmental research advisor then has the option of 1) approving the project as proposed, 2) approving the project pending minor revisions, or 3) rejecting the project. If the departmental research advisor deems the project unacceptable, the student has the option of developing a new project with the same faculty member or selecting a new research advisor and developing a new proposal.

Modifications to the Proposal

In the event that a student's initial proposal is rejected, it is the student's responsibility to submit a second proposal to her research advisor(s). This second proposal is subject to review as outlined above. In order to ensure that the thesis is completed in time for graduation, she must have an approved proposal by April 1 of her junior year. It is the student's responsibility to make sure that this deadline is met. Regardless of the status of a proposal, all students must submit a proposal in Junior Colloquium (BIO 350). Any student who fails to do so will not receive credit for BIO 350, and will not be eligible to enroll in Science, Ethics, and Society (BIO 360).

Senior Year

By the beginning of the fall semester of her senior year, the student will be expected to begin her research project. The research project will culminate in both a written thesis and a presentation (a poster or seminar talk) at the Biology Research Symposium. All students pursuing an Honors diploma should refer to the Honors Policy for additional requirements and deadlines.

Thesis Format for Laboratory/Field Research Projects

The thesis should include the following sections or conform to the guidelines of a specific scientific journal:

Thesis Format for Library Research Projects

The thesis should include the following sections:

Research Projects

Research Conducted within the Department of Biological Sciences

Within the final three semesters of a student's college career, the student should register for a minimum of four credits (two semesters) of BIO 353 under her research advisor's section number. (Exception: Honors students will register for HON 350, 351, as detailed in the Biology department's policy for Honors students). In addition, she should register for BIO 354 during her final semester of research. The student's research director will monitor satisfactory progress during her senior year. A student who does not demonstrate a dedication to her research project will not earn creditor receive an acceptable grade, and thus prevent her from completing the Thesis Option. The student will be required to submit a progress report to her research advisor at the end of the first semester of independent research. This should detail both the progress made thus far and her plans for the following semester. During her final semester of independent research, the student should begin to write her preliminary sections (e.g., introduction, methods and materials, results, etc.) of her thesis and submit all drafts to her research advisor. Towards the end of the final semester of research, the student should complete her research and submit the first draft of her thesis to her research advisor. The research advisor will review the thesis and suggest points for revision. Two copies of the final thesis are due to her research advisor by the last day of classes. One copy will be given to the BIO 354 instructor. The student should prepare her presentation either by developing a PowerPoint presentation or a poster. The research will then be presented in the Biology Research Symposium, usually held during the first week of May (spring graduation) or December (fall graduation).

Research Conducted within Other CCC or LVAIC Departments

The student should satisfy the policies as written above for students conducting research within the Department of Biological Sciences with these modifications. 1) Within the final three semesters of a student's college career, the student should register for a minimum of four credits of the appropriate capstone course under her research advisor's section number (e.g., CHE 391). A minimum of two semesters of research is required. These courses will be considered the equivalent of BIO 353 to satisfy program requirements. 2) The student will be required to submit a copy of her progress report to her departmental research advisor by December 1. The departmental research advisor will discuss any concerns regarding the progress report with both the student and the research advisor. Modifications to spring semester plans may be required. 3) The final copy of the student's thesis is subject to approval from her departmental research advisor. Note: even though the student did not conduct research in the Department of Biological Sciences, she will be required to participate in the Biology Research Symposium as described above.


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