Biology Department


Guidelines for the Biology Honors Thesis Proposal

Prior to drafting an honors thesis proposal, you must extensively consult with the faculty member/research mentor to develop a proposal that is scientifically meritorious. In addition, you and your research mentor must create your Honors Committee, consisting of the mentor and three other faculty members; two of the committee members must be Biology Department faculty. These four individuals will evaluate the thesis proposal and, one year later, the final thesis.

The guidelines described below roughly follow those for a proposal to the National Science Foundation. You should make use of figures, as necessary, and provide proper citations throughout the body of the proposal.

Proposal organization:

  • Cover Sheet: Includes 1) your name, 2) home and campus address and phone numbers, 3) your Honors Research Mentor’s name, 4) signed Academic Behavior Code [1 page].
  • Project Summary: Provide a brief statement of objectives, methods and significance of the proposed research [1 page MAXIMUM].
  • Project Description [no more than 15 pages]
    • Background/Prior Results: review the relevant literature and present any preliminary or prior results [typically no more than 5 pages].
    • Research Plan/Methodology: describe the study system and specific approaches to testing hypotheses. We recommend breaking this section down by individual research question and providing a description of the methodology for each [1-3 pages].
    • Significance of Proposed Research: describe how this study will contribute to general knowledge of biological systems and processes. You may also include a brief statement describing how this research fits with your overall plan of study and career goals [1-2 pages].
    • Budget: List major equipment and supplies that must be acquired for the project and approximate costs [1 page].
    • References: Consult Writing Papers in the Biological Sciences, by Victoria E. McMillan for proper format for citations. We use the CSE name-year format.
    • The font is 12 point Times Roman.
    • All text is double-spaced with the exception of each reference in the Literature Cited and the legends for the figures and tables.
    • All the margins are one inch.
    • All headings (i.e. Dedication, Table of Contents, Introduction, etc.) are centered and fully capitalized.
    • Consecutive page numbers are centered and a half an inch from the bottom margin.
    • The color figures are printed in color

Proposal Evaluation and Deadline: The student must submit at least two drafts to his/her advisor no less than two weeks prior to the proposal being submitted to the Honors Committee. The advisor needs to have sufficient amount of time to review the draft and discuss any changes prior to the proposal going to the Committee. One final copy is submitted to each member of the Honors Committee by the third Friday in March. For those graduating in December, an alternate deadline will be established by the Honors Committee.  The Committee evaluates the proposal and two weeks after the proposal deadline the student is informed of the Committee’s decision.  The proposal is accepted, not accepted, or provisionally accepted, the later which generally requires revisions to be submitted back to the committee.