CHC Thesis Project: Frequently Asked Questions

 

Thesis-Related Course Work

 

Thesis Committee

 

Research Approval

 

Study Abroad

 

The Thesis Document

 

The Thesis Defense

 

Final Submission and Graduation

 

THESIS-RELATED COURSE WORK

When should I take HC 277H Thesis Orientation?

Students in the sciences who plan to conduct lab-based research for their thesis projects may benefit from taking HC 277H Thesis Orientation at the end of their first year or the beginning of their second year of study. Students in the social sciences and humanities may benefit from taking HC 277H toward the middle or end of their second year. While typically taken at some point during a student’s second year of study, the optimal time for a student to take HC 277H will depend on their major and overall plans for the thesis project.

When should I take HC 477H Thesis Prospectus?

Students generally take HC 477H during Spring of their third year or Fall of their fourth year. HC 477H must be taken at least one term prior to the thesis defense. Students with scheduling challenges such as off-site major requirements, study abroad, or compressed graduation timelines should consult with their CHC Faculty Advisor on when best to take the course. You must have a primary thesis advisor and a general project idea (one sentence description) to register for HC 477H.

How do I get permission to register for HC 477H Thesis Prospectus?

All students need permission to register for HC 477H. If you haven’t filled out the CHC Thesis Prospectus Form, you will need to do so to receive permission to register. The form will be routed to your primary thesis advisor’s UO email for an electronic signature, then to the Academic and Thesis Programs Manager for preauthorization. If you have already filled out the form, see the next question.

I filled out the HC 477H Thesis Prospectus preauthorization form but haven’t received permission to register. What do I do?

First, check on the status of your online form to make sure your primary thesis advisor has signed it. Go to https://forms.uoregon.edu/forms/list/Clark%20Honors%20College. Then, log in.  Find your application in "My Documents" on the top menu bar, then navigate to "Pending." If your primary thesis advisor has not yet signed it, send an email reminder to them to do so. The Academic and Thesis Programs Manager cannot view your application until after your primary thesis advisor has signed it.

If your form has been signed (or you are experiencing technical issues), you may email Academic and Thesis Programs Manager Miriam Jordan (mjordan@uoregon.edu) to check in on your status.

My major department also has a thesis prospectus class. Do I need to take that class as well as HC 477H?

To graduate from the CHC, you must take HC 477H Thesis Prospectus. The CHC does not require you to take your department’s thesis prospectus class. However, your department might require you to take the departmental class if you are completing departmental honors. Please consult your departmental advisor who can let you know if your major allows CHC students to substitute HC 477H for a department prospectus class or if you will need to complete both courses.

Am I required to take independent study credits for my thesis project?

The honors college does not require you to take independent study credits for your thesis research. However, we do allow up to 4 credits of independent study credits to count in place of an elective colloquium. Taking advantage of this can free up time in your schedule to devote to writing your thesis.

 

THESIS COMMITTEE

How can I tell if a potential primary thesis advisor is a tenure-related or career faculty member and therefore eligible to serve in this role?

A faculty member listed on the UO website as an "Assistant Professor," "Associate Professor," "Professor," “Instructor,” “Senior Instructor,” “Lecturer,” or “Senior Lecturer” is usually eligible to serve as your primary advisor. Certain research faculty classifications are also eligible. If you are uncertain, ask your prospective primary thesis advisor if they are a career or tenure-related faculty member.

Please keep in mind that faculty who have retired or are in the process of retiring and have relinquished tenure are not eligible to serve as primary thesis advisors. If you or your prospective primary thesis advisor have questions about eligibility to serve, please email the Associate Dean for Undergraduate Studies.

Does my primary thesis advisor need to be in my major department?

Primary thesis advisors are typically drawn from either your major or a closely allied department, with expertise in a similar field of study to the major field. For example, a Human Physiology major may work with a faculty member from Biology, or a Comparative Literature major may work with a faculty member from English. However, the project still needs to be connected to your major field of study and the faculty member needs to have appropriate expertise. In the case of interdisciplinary majors like Environmental Studies; Global Studies; Indigenous, Race, and Ethnic Studies; and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, your primary thesis advisor will typically be affiliated with the major program or the field of study of your project. You should consult your CHC Faculty Advisor if you have any questions.

If you are considering working with a faculty member from outside your major department and are planning to pursue honors within your major, check with your major department to be sure the thesis project will still be eligible to fulfill any departmental honors requirements.

If your thesis project is outside your major field of study, you must obtain permission from the Associate Dean for Undergraduate Studies to proceed. Keep in mind that the CHC thesis builds on your academic experiences at the University of Oregon. You will need to demonstrate your coursework preparation (typically through completion of a minor) and provide a justification for pursuing a project outside your major field. In these cases, the primary thesis advisor should be from the project field.

Is there a petition process to have someone who is not a tenure-related or career faculty member serve as my primary thesis advisor?

Students who have identified a potential primary thesis advisor who is not a career or tenure-related faculty member but who is a UO employee and holds a terminal degree in their field may email the Associate Dean for Undergraduate Studies to request an exception.

Graduate students, postdoctoral scholars, and retired (emerit), pro tempore, visiting, or adjunct faculty cannot serve as primary thesis advisors and exceptions will not be granted in these cases.

Is my CHC Representative the same as my CHC Faculty Advisor?

Your CHC Faculty Advisor, assigned in your second year, can provide advice and support on getting started with the thesis, getting involved with research, and on approaching potential primary thesis advisors. If you don’t know who your CHC Faculty Advisor is, you can write to honors@uoregon.edu to find out.

While your CHC Faculty Advisor is assigned to you, you need to ask a member of the CHC core faculty to serve as the CHC representative on your thesis committee. You might choose someone with whom you have taken a class, your faculty advisor, or a faculty member whose interests appeal to you. Learn more about the roles and responsibilities of the CHC representative in the thesis process.

Core faculty have a limit as to the number of thesis committees they can serve on each year. Here is a current list of CHC core faculty available to serve this academic year.

When does it make sense to add a third member to the thesis committee?

The most common reasons for adding a third committee member are:

  • a second faculty member from your field of study is needed in order to fulfill departmental honors thesis requirements
  • a graduate student or post-doctoral scholar has been very involved in advising your project
  • the primary thesis advisor suggests bringing on a faculty member from a different area of study to provide significant support for an interdisciplinary aspect of the project
  • you are participating in the 3+3 Law program. Students in this dual degree program are required to have a representative from the law school on their committee

Except in the case of dual degree programs, the decision whether to add a third member rests, ultimately, with your primary thesis advisor. If you think you should add a third member of the committee, please consult with them. The eligibility requirements for a third reader are the same as for a second reader (see next question).

Who is eligible to serve in committee roles other than Primary Thesis Advisor and CHC Representative?

Regardless of whether you are adding a committee member because your primary thesis advisor is also serving as CHC representative or if you are adding an optional third committee member, the following eligibility criteria apply:

The committee member must be an expert in a field directly or closely related to the thesis project: they can be a tenured, tenure-related, or career non-tenure-track UO faculty member, a post-doctoral fellow, a graduate student, or a professional in a relevant field or profession with a bachelor's degree in that field.

What are the expectations for my primary thesis advisor? What do I do if I am having trouble communicating with them?

CHC has a summary of expectations for primary thesis advisors. If you are having challenges communicating with your primary thesis advisor, your CHC Faculty Advisor or CHC representative can work with you to develop strategies to constructively address your concerns.

I’m having trouble finding a primary thesis advisor. What can I do?

It is not unusual for students to have conversations with several faculty members before finding a primary thesis advisor. If you are having trouble finding a primary thesis advisor, your CHC Faculty Advisor is a great resource. Also consider talking with faculty in your field of study with whom you have a good rapport. Even if they don’t have expertise in your thesis topic, they may have suggestions for other faculty you could approach.

 

RESEARCH APPROVAL

How do I know if I need to go through the human subjects research approval process?

Research in the sciences and social sciences—psychology, anthropology, sociology, human physiology, neuroscience, and economics especially—often involves working with individual people through observation, polls, surveys, interviews, and experiments. Such research has an ethical dimension, and the University of Oregon’s Institutional Research Board (IRB) ensures that the rights and safety of human subjects in research are protected.

The Research Compliance Services website includes links to help determine whether a project falls under the IRB purview. If it does, you will need to go through a human subjects research approval process. Your primary thesis advisor will be your best resource on this process, although research compliance services can also answer your questions. Please keep in mind that the review process can take as long as two months. Be proactive during your junior year when consulting with disciplinary faculty on potential thesis topics and include questions about human subjects requirements. 

How do I know if I need to go through the vertebrate animal research approval process?

Similar to human subjects research, the university has protocols in place to ensure the responsible and ethical conduct of research with vertebrate animals. You can learn more about research with animals at the UO from Animal Welfare Services.

Be proactive in your junior year when consulting with disciplinary faculty on potential thesis topics and include questions about animal research requirements.  Ultimately, be guided by your primary thesis advisor regarding the project's potential interface with animal research protocols and the process for obtaining necessary approvals.

 

STUDY ABROAD

Can I study abroad and still complete a thesis?

Yes! The thesis timeline is compatible with study abroad, although study abroad does require careful planning, particularly if you plan to connect your thesis with your study abroad experience. In these cases, we advise students to begin thinking about potential links between studying abroad and the thesis project well before departing the United States. 

While you’re abroad, if something in the country captures your attention, it can be worthwhile to collect items or do local research that might be useful later. For instance, if you are interested in a cultural topic related to the country, then taking lots of photos or attending events (movies, protests, etc.) could help enrich an academic discussion of it. However, not all students will choose to connect their thesis to their study abroad experience.

Before studying abroad, all students planning to take HC 477H shortly after their return should introduce themselves to potential primary thesis advisors to make email follow-up proceed more smoothly. The HC 477H preauthorization process is handled via an online form, so it can be completed while you’re abroad, but you’ll need to have secured your primary thesis advisor before you can complete the form.

Can I conduct human subjects research while studying abroad?

Keep in mind that if you intend to carry out human subjects research while abroad (e.g., conducting interviews or surveys), you must obtain IRB approval (or confirm that your research project does not require IRB approval) before you begin your data collection. If you don’t have approvals in place before you leave, use your time abroad to form relationships and then conduct your interviews or surveys on Zoom once you return and receive approval.

 

THE THESIS DOCUMENT

How long does my thesis project need to be?

There is no absolute minimum, nor an absolute maximum length, for a CHC thesis. Remember that the thesis should be consistent with the standards of the field of study, as well as express clearly the concept, procedure, and implications of the work for a general reader. A thesis in Mathematics is going to look very different than one in English or one in Business Administration. Primary thesis advisors are your best resource to help you determine the appropriate length/scope of your project.  

Does the CHC require a particular citation format/style?

When writing the CHC thesis, it is important to cite sources and avoid plagiarism. The CHC does not require a particular citation style for the thesis. Instead, you should work with your primary thesis advisor to determine what is appropriate for your field and project.

Am I required to use the thesis template?

The thesis template is provided for your convenience. You are not required to use it. You may choose to follow the formatting guidelines instead.

My project is visual/auditory/has special formatting requirements. Am I still required to follow the thesis formatting guidelines?

All theses have a written component, and the front matter/written component must follow the formatting guidelines and be submitted as a .doc or .docx file. You may include other file types (audio, video, image, etc.) with your thesis submission as supporting materials. If you plan to submit non-document files with your thesis, please review the list of the most common preferred files types in Your Defense Term (a more comprehensive list is available on the UO libraries website). Contact the Academic Thesis and Programs Manager Miriam Jordan (mjordan@uoregon.edu) with questions regarding formats and procedures.

 

THE THESIS DEFENSE

Do I need to be enrolled in credits in the term I defend?

You do not need to be enrolled in credits or pay any university tuition or fees in the term you defend your thesis. If it has been more than a year since you last took classes, you may need to contact the Registrar’s Office reactivate your student account.

How do I schedule a time and room for my thesis defense?

You are responsible for scheduling your thesis defense with your full thesis committee and securing a room reservation or setting up the Zoom meeting for the defense. Once your committee has agreed on a date, time, and format, start by inquiring with your primary thesis advisor as to whether your major department has a space that can be used. If not, reach out to the Academic Thesis and Programs Manager Miriam Jordan (mjordan@uoregon.edu), who can assist you in identifying a room. Defenses may also be held remotely using Zoom or similar videoconferencing software.

Who can attend a thesis defense?

In addition to the committee, you may invite guests such as friends, family, and other students to your defense. Both the size of the audience and the provision of refreshment are at the student's choice (and the latter at their expense). Thesis defenses are public, and anyone may attend, including students preparing for their own defenses.  

What should I cover in my oral defense presentation?

The oral presentation requires that you synthesize your project and present your research or results to a general audience. In preparing your oral presentation, strategize with your primary thesis advisor. Do you want to present an overview of the entire thesis? Focus your attention on particular elements of the work? Do you want to use PowerPoint slides or other visual aids during your presentation? The answer will depend on the nature of your project, the norms of your field of study, and your own personal presentation style. Remember, your oral presentation should only be 20 to 30 minutes.

My thesis includes a performance/artwork/project that needs to be viewed live or in place (e.g., a senior recital, a site-specific installation, etc.). What is the procedure for the defense?

There are several ways that this can be managed. The committee can be invited to view the work in advance of the defense (with ample notice) or may be provided with photos or recordings. At the defense itself, the oral presentation can offer an overview and contextualization of the work prior to Q&A. Work with your committee to determine what is most appropriate for your situation and to ensure that they have the information they need to assess the thesis: active communication is essential.

May I defend my thesis during summer term?

Most of your professors have nine-month contracts and are under no obligation to serve on summer defense committees. Unless they indicate otherwise, you should expect that faculty will not be available for summer defenses. Postponing until fall should create no financial hardship. You do not need to be registered for classes to defend the thesis (and therefore pay no tuition or fees) and defenses may be held remotely such that travel to Eugene is not required.

In the rare case that the student’s committee agrees to a summer defense, students must make a formal appeal. Email a detailed explanation to the Clark Honors College Associate Dean for Undergraduate Studies, Daphne Gallagher (daphne@uoregon.edu), and copy the CHC representative, and the Academic and Thesis Programs Manager, Miriam Jordan (mjordan@uoregon.edu). Include written evidence—ideally emails—that verify the agreement of your committee members to attend a summer thesis defense. Contact the Associate Dean with any questions. 

 

FINAL SUBMISSION AND GRADUATION

Do I need to have scheduled my thesis defense to apply for graduation?

Students do not need to have scheduled their thesis defense to apply to graduate. Information on applying to graduate is available through the Registrar’s Office.

Can I graduate from CHC/UO before I defend my thesis?

No. The CHC is not a separate entity from the University of Oregon, and because honors college requirements (including the thesis) are the core education requirements for your UO degree, you cannot graduate until you have completed the thesis defense. However, there’s a lot of flexibility with regards to when you complete the thesis defense. Your thesis defense may take place a term or two after the term in which you have finished all your undergraduate coursework. Students in this situation are allowed to participate in all UO and CHC Commencement activities for a given year even if they have applied to graduate in the summer or fall terms of that calendar year (just remember that walking in the commencement ceremony doesn’t necessarily mean that one has completed their degree at the time of the ceremony).

Will my CHC thesis fulfill departmental honors requirements?

Many departments also have an honors thesis program. Writing an honors college thesis is not connected to getting honors in the major—they are two very distinct processes. However, if the department allows, it is possible to use the same research project to meet both goals. If a student wants their thesis to serve for departmental honors, they need to plan ahead to design a project to make that happen, one that will fulfill both sets of requirements. Find out how the honors thesis process works in the major—look at departmental websites and talk to potential primary thesis advisors as early as possible. Departments that allow dual-purpose theses will usually accept a joint defense. Please visit your department’s honors program website for more information.

Am I required to archive my thesis on Scholars’ Bank?

Although it is not required, all CHC students are strongly encouraged to make their thesis available through Scholars' Bank, an open-access digital archive dedicated to preserving and providing worldwide access to the intellectual output of the University of Oregon. You may choose to either make your thesis fully available to the public or only available to those accessing it from the UO campus.

There are many benefits to making your work available: future students will be able to read it, as will other scholars working in your field and prospective employers. If you have questions about Scholars’ Bank, please contact Catherine A. Flynn-Purvis (cflynn@uoregon.edu), Institutional Repository Program Manager, UO Libraries.

I’m having trouble submitting my thesis using the post-defense form. Who can I ask for help?

Contact Miriam Jordan, Academic Thesis and Programs Manager (mjordan@uoregon.edu).