Honors Thesis Writing Workshop (Pol S 398)
Friday, November 10, 2017
Your thesis proposal is due by 4:30 pm on Wednesday, December 13. Please send it to Professor Mayerfeld by email OR submit a hard copy in the main office of the Political Science Department, Gowen 101 (or both).
Your proposal should be 10-15 double-spaced pages, not counting your bibliography. Below I list the essential elements of your proposal. These instructions are the same as for your recently completed draft proposal. However, the version submitted by December 13 should be more detailed, polished, and complete than your draft proposal.
Your proposal should draw on the work you have done throughout the quarter, including in the final weeks. You should incorporate feedback from your advisors, from me, and from your fellow students.
At this stage of the process, proposal writing should start to merge with actual thesis writing. You can (and probably should) include in your proposal some of the text that will constitute the thesis itself. (But as noted before, this is not meant to discard the possibility that some of you may change or fundamentally rethink your thesis project after completing the proposal.)
Keep in mind that some elements of the proposal may be more complete than others. That is to be expected at this stage of the process. But please try to be as complete as possible.
Elements of the proposal.
Opening. This section should introduce readers to your project and grasp their interest. Present your question (or questions), followed by prominent answers others have offered, followed by the answer you intend to offer. (Or with the last two elements reversed.) Or present the problem or issue you’re addressing, followed by your main claim, which you will then contrast to competing claims others have offered. Please note there are different ways to organize your opening.
Theoretical engagement. In this section, you should situate your thesis in the relevant scholarly literature. What scholarly and theoretical debates will you engage? What are the contours of the debate? This section will require you to explain and summarize the key works or ideas you are engaging.
Discussion of methodology(ies). What kind of evidence will you use to build your argument? How will you obtain it? How will it help you address your question or build your argument? Depending on your research design, some of you will need to devote more space to a discussion of methodology than others.
**Depending on where you are in the research process, you may attempt to write the first three parts above is they were the opening pages of your thesis. As such, do not just describe what you are doing in insular segments, as if completing an assignment, but write the sections in the integrated format and style of a completed essay.
Outline of your thesis. Provide an organizational outline of your thesis. Identity the key parts or sections of your thesis. This should include a short paragraph for each section. Plotting the structure of your thesis will help you to imagine the whole and begin thinking about how the parts relate to that whole.
Timeline for completion of project. Identify a target date for completion of research and writing for each section. Please allow realistic amounts of time. You should aim to have a draft of the entire write-up by the seventh week of winter quarter (week of Feb 12), so that your supervisors can read and comment, and you can then revise the whole. That gives you about 10 weeks from the time you submit this prospectus to the time of finishing your first complete draft, and several weeks for final revisions. Please note that different authors and different projects will unfold in different ways and rates.
Preliminary bibliography. Identify key sources. Of course, this will not be a complete bibliography, but you should start growing your list.
General comments. You should continue moving full-steam ahead on your honors thesis, doing all the things necessary for this undertaking – reading, gathering sources, consulting with your advisor and other experts (including but not limited to UW faculty members), acquiring the necessary research techniques, note-taking, brainstorming alone and with others, formulating and reformulating your ideas, trying out arguments, etc. At some point (sooner than will feel natural) you will want to begin actually drafting parts of your thesis. Remember that you can always discard drafts. We learn from our mistakes as well as our successes. Writing the proposal is only a small part of your thesis work.
As with earlier drafts, please share your proposal with your advisor for their comments.