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LER Honors Thesis Guidelines

Honors Thesis Guidelines – School of Labor and Employment Relations

These guidelines aim to offer both general guidance and some hard-and-fast requirements for successful completion of the Schreyer Honors College thesis project.  The School of Labor and Employment Relations is a multi-disciplinary unit.  Students may undertake theses operating under the scholarly conventions of various academic disciplines, mainly but not exclusively within the social sciences.  Accordingly, such a range of acceptable possible approaches precludes prescriptive guidance beyond certain minimum standards.

Requirements

The thesis must conform to the overall requirements of the Honors College, with regard to deadlines, formatting, and other matters.  These requirements are available at https://www.shc.psu.edu/academic/thesis/.   Note the SHC concern that the thesis actually presents a thesis, a central argument, not merely “cover” some problem and reach some conclusions about it.

The thesis must be original.  In all cases, this originality must be established by a systematic review of the relevant existing scholarly literature on the chosen topic.  In almost all circumstances, the student must conduct a significant amount of original empirical research.  Exceptions to this requirement must be justified to both the thesis supervisor and the honors advisor.

The thesis must be a substantial work.  The research, analysis, and writing generally span two semesters or more.  Presenting a proper introduction, literature review, discussion of relevant theory and methods, analysis of findings, and conclusion will necessarily result in a somewhat lengthy work.  Hence, the finished product should be a manuscript that is much longer than a term paper for an upper-division course.  Although no absolute minimum length is required, theses shorter than 50 pages in length will be in particular danger of being found inadequate.

Guidelines

Plan carefully.  In order to meet the deadline for submission of a thesis proposal, ordinarily at the end of the junior year, it is highly advisable to complete courses that prepare one for both a particular topic and for selecting a thesis supervisor who is an expert on that topic.  Consider summer internships following the junior year that will provide resources, such as access to research subjects, for your thesis project.  Getting an early start is also crucial if there is any sizable probability that your chosen topic will turn out to be either infeasible or otherwise unsatisfactory, necessitating selection of an alternative project.

Ask for help.  In a multidisciplinary realm such as Labor and Employment Relations, there are fewer standard procedures and paradigms.  Hence, the advising provided by your thesis supervisor is essential in proceeding appropriately on such issues as the breadth and depth of the literature under review, the research methods to be deployed, and the proper protocols for presenting and interpreting your findings and citing your sources.

For questions, please contact , LER Honors Adviser.