Senior Theses and Research Projects
For anyone writing a thesis, see our Senior Thesis Guide for an overview of the thesis process and detailed links to library resources for all thesis writers. Librarians are available 9am – noon, 1pm – 5pm Monday through Friday (look for the Research Help sign) or by appointment. We can help with research questions, finding resources, citations, formatting, and preparing your thesis for submissions.
All seniors working on theses are entitled to additional library privileges:
- Semester-long use of a locker in the library, renewable in December for spring semester—very handy if you don’t want to carry three dozen books around with you all the time. (Please make sure all the books in your locker are actually checked out to you.)
- Semester-long checkout of Penrose Library books. This does not extend to books borrowed via Summit or interlibrary loan. This privilege requires your advisor’s signature.
To apply for a locker and semester-long check out rights, please fill out our Senior Privileges form (PDF).
Collecting Honors Theses and Research Projects
The Library acquires copies of honors theses and reports on honors research projects to serve the needs of students and faculty at Whitman College, to provide access to Whitman College student scholarship outside the Whitman community, and to ensure that these original works are available to researchers for consultation in the future. Departments are asked to distribute these guidelines to all honors students whose theses will be acquired by the Library. The guidelines are to be followed by the students in the preparation of their honors theses.
Preparation of an Honors Thesis
Your faculty advisor can tell you more about the process within your department to apply for honors. Please check with the Registrar’s office for specifics as well.
These guidelines, specific to those writing honors theses, will tell you everything you need to know about formatting and submitting your thesis. Expectations are similar for preparing a report for an honors project; please consult with your advisor and the library for more specifics.
You are only required to submit a digital copy of the thesis, though you will still need to turn in a physical copy of the Non-Exclusive Distribution License and the signed certificate of approval form. The distribution license requires you to pick which level of access you are providing to your work:
- Open: Worldwide distribution via the Internet, or
- Limited: Local distribution only to authorized users of Whitman’s network (current faculty, staff, and students), or
- Opt-out: Not available to anyone (but still deposited). This is intended for cases where the topic or the treatment of the topic are sensitive or should not be shared
If you elect to have open access to your thesis, you can choose to print your thesis to be bound and shelved in the Allen Reading Room.
Writing and Formatting Your Honors Thesis
For honors theses, certain structural elements are required, such as the title page, certificate of approval, table of contents, etc. These requirements are laid out below. You have the option to use a formatted thesis template which includes the required elements and is designed to facilitate proper formatting and pagination in Microsoft Word. Please consult with librarians if departmental guidelines differ from formatting requirements outlined below. If you plan to make your thesis open access and make a bound copy available in the Allen Room, use of the template is highly recommended.
If you do not have Microsoft Word, you can download it from Office 360 website. As a Whitman student, you can log in with your Whitman email and password and download Microsoft Office on up to five computers and five mobile devices.If you do not want to download Office/Word, you can also use Word Online, log in with your Whitman Email address and password and upload the template there. For more information, please contact WCTS.
The thesis should follow requirements set forth by the home department or developed in consultation with the thesis advisor. Generally, one of the formats described in the Modern Language Association (MLA), Chicago Manual of Style, American Psychological Association or other standard style manuals should be used. See Style Guides.
Unless approval by the departments and the Library is granted because of a need for a different format, the thesis page size must be 8½ × 11 inches.
Margins, Spacing, and Type
To facilitate printing and binding, the left margin must be at least 1 ½ inches wide. All other margins must be at least 1 inch wide. The text should be double-spaced, but extended quotations may be single-spaced if indented slightly from each margin. Text should be in a standard font, no larger than 14 points and no smaller than 10 points.
For preliminary pages (table of contents, etc.), use lower case Roman numerals at the bottom center of the page. Include the title page in the count but do not number it.
For the text (thesis, appendices, etc.), use Arabic numerals at the bottom center of the page. Include the first page of the text in the count but do not number it. First pages of new sections (bibliography, chapters, etc.) should also be numbered at the bottom center. If you’re not using the template this can be difficult; please see this guide from Microsoft Office Support.
Other styles of pagination such as MLA or APA may be used if approved by the department or thesis advisor.
Images, Audio, Video, and Other Media
Theses including such materials should be prepared according to the special instructions below. Additional questions on special materials may be referred to the Archivist & Head of Digital Services at [email protected]
Digital images, maps, charts, and graphs, unless otherwise specified by your academic department or thesis advisor should have a resolution of a minimum of 300 dots per inch (dpi) and should be in TIFF (preferred) or JPEG file formats. For help with creating, scanning, formatting or otherwise preparing images, maps, charts, or graphs, please contact the WCTS Multimedia Development Lab (MDL) in Hunter at [email protected]
Supplementary media materials should be included with the thesis deposited with the library. Files can be uploaded at the same time as the thesis PDF/A. Media contents shall be formatted in accordance to guidelines set by the academic department and/or thesis advisor. The library strongly encourages formatting that facilitates long term preservation and use.
The usual make-up of the thesis is as follows:
1. Title page
In order to ensure consistency among Whitman theses, the title page should closely follow the sample with respect to order, spacing, and capitalization. In general, abbreviations should not be used. The author’s name must be typed in full as it will appear on the commencement program.
2. Certificate of approval
The completed thesis must be approved by the professor under whose direction the work was done. Use the sample certificate of approval form as a guide. The certificate of approval must be signed by the thesis advisor and given to Kathleen Hutchison in Penrose Library room 213 no later than Reading Day (May 13, 2020) of spring semester. It must be on archival paper, provided by the library. NOTE: This is not the same form as the Honors in Major Study Application for the department/committee chair due to the Registrar’s Office immediately after the October break.
3. Table of contents
Depending on departmental requirements, most theses must have a table of contents immediately following the certificate of approval. It must list all the principal topics or subdivisions of the thesis and their initial page numbers.
An abstract in your thesis helps users identify, retrieve, and use the thesis. See the appropriate style guide for your discipline for instructions on writing an abstract. While the Library does not require your thesis to contain an abstract within it, we do require an abstract be submitted as part of the digital submission form. If you choose to include an abstract within the contents of your thesis, you may copy and paste this into the digital submission form. If you do not have one already in your thesis, a simple paragraph describing your paper is all that is needed. This description will be shown on ARMINDA.
5. List of illustrations
All figures, tables, charts, graphs, drawings, plates and other illustrations are to be listed on a page following the table of contents, numbered consecutively in either Arabic or Roman numerals in the order in which they appear in the thesis. The number of the illustration(s) should appear at the left of each entry, and the page number on which each illustration appears should be indicated at the right of the entry.
6. Text Format (Discipline Specific)
Text should follow the style (APA, Chicago, MLA, etc.) of the thesis discipline.
The bibliography shall be placed following the text in a form approved for use by the academic department. See “Style Guides”
If you are the author of all the text, image, audio, and/or video files contained in your honors thesis, you hold copyrights and can grant full permission to post a digital copy online. If portions of your materials have been produced by others, these portions must be in the public domain or fall within the parameters of fair use. If the material does not fall within either of those categories, authors must receive permission from the copyright owner to include that material in their digital thesis. If you are unable to get permissions, consider restricting access to Whitman-affiliates only. For more information, see the library’s tutorial on copyright at Whitman or contact Dalia Corkrum, Library Director, at [email protected]
Submitting Your Thesis
Click on Thesis Submission Form to start your digital submission process
Theses are due prior to the final examination period in the student’s last semester (except when the student may be required to comply with departmental regulations for earlier filing). Changes and/or exceptions in requirements or deadlines must be approved by the Board of Review.
Students are required to submit a digital version of their work to the Library. This is the copy of record and will be stored in the college’s institutional repository (ARMINDA). The digital copy must be a pdf/a file. Create one by following the pdf/a instruction sheet while using Adobe Acrobat XI on either of the two computers closest to the Penrose Circulation Desk. Students with questions about digital formatting should contact the WCTS Multimedia Development Lab in Hunter Conservatory at [email protected].
Distribution license. The author of the thesis must complete a non-exclusive distribution license and select a level of access, subject to thesis advisor’s approval:
1. Open: Worldwide distribution via the Internet, or
2. Limited: Local distribution only to authorized users of Whitman’s network (Current faculty, staff, and students)
3. Opt-out: Not available to anyone (but still deposited). This is intended for cases where the topic or the treatment of the topic are sensitive or should not be shared.
You may choose to restrict electronic access to your work for up to two years from the date the work is submitted to ARMINDA. When the embargo expires, your work will automatically become available under the conditions specified above unless an extension is requested and approved by the library
If the thesis is co-authored, it is the responsibility of the primary author to notify all other authors, even those not earning honors designation. It is strongly encouraged that additional authors and/or thesis advisors sign the non-exclusive distribution license. If applicable, all thesis co-authors and thesis advisor(s) should sign the same license. The non-exclusive distribution license must be submitted with signatures to the Library by Reading Day (May 13, 2020).
When you’ve completed all the guidelines listed above, you’re ready to fill out the digital thesis submission form by Reading Day (May 13, 2020).
Please click: Digital Thesis Submission Form to start your digital submission process
Note: If your PDF file size is greater than 1GB, instead of uploading your PDF/A file, bring the file on a flash drive to Kathleen Hutchison in Rm. 213. A digital thesis submission form is still required.
Printed Version: What to print and submit (and where):
If you have chosen open access to your thesis, you are welcome to print a copy of your thesis to be bound and shelved in the Allen Reading Room. Printing procedures and requirements are explained below. Submit the printed copy unbound to Kathleen Hutchison in Penrose Library, room 213. This copy will be added to the Library’s circulating collection and be made available for circulation to other libraries through interlibrary loan. Be sure that your final printed thesis conforms to the formatting guidelines, paying particular attention to the Title Page and the need for signed Certificates of Approval.
How to Print:
Print one-sided, not two-sided “duplexed”, on a laser printer, in black and white. The print copy may contain color charts, graphs, etc. only if the graphics are preceded by a blank sheet and they are printed on a color laser printer.
Unless prior approval is obtained by the academic department, the thesis must be 8½ × 11 inches in size. Library copies must be printed on a minimum of 20-lb weight paper that has a minimum 25% cotton content. Penrose Library will provide free, archival quality paper for seniors submitting theses. Paper will be available approximately one week before the deadline and stocked in the thesis printer on the main floor of the library. Check with a librarian or the WCTS Help Desk in the library if you will be submitting early.
Text must be in black ink.
Theses may be printed on the designated thesis printer at the WCTS-staffed Technology Support Desk in the Library.
Cost (if printed on College-owned laser printers)
Following the changes made to printing in Spring 2019, you will only need additional funding if you are printing over 20 pages in color. The request may be made by emailing [email protected] with the name of the thesis advisor and the academic department for which the thesis is being written. Color printing is charged at the rate of $0.50 per single-sided page.
Personal Bound Copies
No matter what distribution access you have chosen, students desiring to have personal copies of theses bound at their expense can order copies for $18 each, including tax and shipping. There is no limit to the number of personal copies you may order. Provide one complete copy of your thesis for every personal bound copy ordered. Make sure that your left margins are set to 1 ½” for the printed copy, otherwise the binding might cover some of your thesis.
To order bound copies, please fill out the online order form.
Payment can be made by charge to your student account or by check (made out to “Penrose Library, Whitman College”). Checks can be turned in to Kathleen Hutchison. Personal copies may be printed on any printer, without special paper requirement.
Checklist of Key Due Dates and Requirements
1. Submit the Honors in Major Study Application to department/committee chair before October break, where relevant.
Optional: download and begin using the Thesis Template.
2. Submit a digital version:
Please note: for complete instructions on #2 and #3, please see the Printing and Submission page.
3. Submit the following to Kathleen Hutchison in Penrose Library room 213 no later than Reading Day (May 13, 2020) of spring semester:
– A signed non-exclusive distribution license. Both you and your advisor must initial the appropriate boxes and sign the form.
– A certificate of approval form signed by thesis advisor and printed on archival paper.
4. Optional only if you have chosen open access to your thesis: submit a paper copy of thesis to Kathleen Hutchison in Penrose Library room 213 no later than Reading Day (May 13, 2020) of spring semester.
Declaration of Intent
Writing Your Thesis
Honors Thesis Template (MS Word). The thesis template is optional; it is designed to facilitate proper formatting and pagination.
Printing and Submitting