Senior History Thesis Guidelines
THE RESEARCH THESIS MUST ADDRESS A HISTORICAL QUESTION THAT THE STUDENT HAS IDENTIFIED:
Good historical scholarship seeks to contribute to human knowledge by addressing a broad conceptual problem. Conceptual problems, in turn, lead to more specific questions that have been overlooked or have produced conflicting explanations. The student’s goal is to identify a conceptual problem of interest and, from there, to define a question that will form the basis of the research thesis. The student will accomplish this task in consultation with the faculty adviser, but the topic of the research thesis must be generated by the student and should not simply be prescribed by the adviser. The topic may address an original question that has not been previously examined, or it may address a familiar question in order to revise, verify, or extend previous interpretations. In either case, the student should present his or her own research rather than merely summarizing previous scholarship.
THE RESEARCH THESIS MUST FULFILL TWO FUNDAMETAL GOALS:
1) IT MUST BE BASED PREDOMINANTLY UPON PRIMARY SOURCE MATERIALS; AND
2) IT MUST ADDRESS AND INCORPORATE THE RELEVANT HISTORICAL WRITING ON THE TOPIC.
In addressing a broad conceptual problem and attempting to answer a specific question, historical scholarship rests upon evidence gathered from original research in primary sources. The senior research thesis therefore must be based, in its essence, upon primary source materials that the student will interpret himself or herself. While it would be impossible to establish a minimum number of primary source collections that must be consulted, or of specific pieces of evidence that must be cited, the core of the research project must be rooted in primary sources, and the argument put forward must reflect the student’s analysis of the evidence he or she has uncovered.
Likewise, the student’s analysis of primary source material must be situated in the relevant previous historical writing on his or her topic. Historical scholarship centers on rigorous debate—on differing explanations of a particular problem. The research thesis, therefore, should be framed, in broad terms, in reference to the contending interpretations that have previously been advanced concerning its topic. This does not mean that the student will be expected to have read every work on a particular topic, but the student should be able to demonstrate a basic familiarity with previous scholarship. Engaging this previous scholarship will enable the student to establish the importance or relevance of the topic, and it ideally will allow him or her to speculate upon the project’s broader implications.
The research thesis should be approximately 30-40 pages. It may be longer than 40 pages, but it shall not be shorter than 30 pages.
SPECIFIC GUIDELINES FOR THE THESIS:
- The research thesis involves a sequence of three courses: HIS 320, HIS 411, and HIS 415. Therefore, students shall envision that preparation and research for the Senior History Thesis begins even before enrolling in HIS 320. Each student is strongly encouraged to begin HIS 320 with a research topic already in mind by discussing their topic with a potential faculty advisor prior to the first day of class in HIS 320.
- While enrolled in HIS 320, students will complete a TOPIC APPROVAL FORM. After submitting a completed form, any changes in research topics must be approved by the faculty advisor.
- Each student will meet with their faculty advisor on a regular basis while also enrolled in HIS 411. The latter is designed to help facilitate the process of researching and writing the Senior History Thesis.
- The student shall turn in the Senior History Thesis one week before the last day of class in any given semester. The student shall turn in one copy of the thesis to their faculty advisor and two copies of the thesis to the professor teaching HIS 411.
- The advisor (70%) and an anonymous member of the history department (30%) will grade the thesis. The average of these two grades (according to the designated percentages) will serve as the final grade for HIS 415.
SENIOR HISTORY THESIS FORMAT:
When the student presents the Senior History Thesis, both in print and electronically, it must be in final form. All students are required to submit three copies of the Thesis.
Title Page: The title page shall include the title of your thesis, your name, date, and thesis advisor. The last item before the date on the title page should read as follows: "Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for a Bachelors degree from Stonehill College in the Program in History”.
The Text: Every effort should be made to have the manuscript as perfect as possible in form and appearance. Paper versions containing handwritten corrections, typewritten strikeovers, and unsightly erasures, misspellings, and the like will not be accepted. Printing shall be on one side of the page only.
Works Cited: All sources must be cited according to the Chicago of Manual Style. The Works Cited page must clearly distinguish between primary and secondary sources.
Type and Spacing: A standard 12 point font is required. All text should be double-spaced, except for block quotations, captions, long headings, and footnotes. All these should be single-spaced with a blank line between items. On paper submissions, all print must be black. Black ink should be used to ensure printing of uniform blackness and legibility. If using a laser printer, it should have a resolution of at least 300 dots per inch. Non-printable characters or symbols should be inserted in black indelible ink.
Margins: The top, bottom and right-hand and left-hand margins should be 1 inch wide. Any manuscript with margins which do not meet these guidelines will be returned to the student for correction.
Page Numbers: Each page must have a number with the exception of the first page of text. The pages should be numbered with Arabic numerals beginning with 2. The number should appear on the upper margin of each page.
Graphs, Drawings, and Photographs: Graphs may be put on cross-section pages but the margins specified above should be preserved. For paper submissions, if graphs are necessarily larger than the page size, they should be folded and pasted within the required margins. Photocopies of drawings may be used. Photographs may be pasted on the pages within the specified margins.
Format: Most senior history projects consist of both preliminary pages and the paper itself. The paper must be arranged in the following order: Title Page, Preface and Acknowledgments, Table of Contents, List of Tables, List of Illustrations, and Works Cited.