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Social Sciences

Faculty Committee: S. Giroux, chair; P. M. Eloundou-Enyegueand J. Ifft

Overview

This thesis program is open to students in CALS who work in a set of social science related fields (including applied economics and management, development sociology, international agriculture and rural development, environment and sustainability science and information science). The program provides an excellent opportunity for students to pursue independent study and research under the guidance/mentorship of a faculty member. Students are strongly encouraged to meet with faculty during their junior year in order to identify someone to serve as their honors thesis advisor. Honors thesis faculty advisors must be members of the graduate faculty. Exceptions may be granted for persons with special expertise pending petition to the committee. Previously approved theses covered a wide range of topics and methodologies. A complete list can be found at ecommons.library.cornell.edu/handle/1813/2937. Students are accepted into the social sciences research honors program of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences after meeting all the college criteria described here (https://cals.cornell.edu/academics/studentresearch/honors/honors-program-requirements), after evaluation of the student’s written application, and on approval of a detailed thesis proposal by the Social Science Honors Committee.

Application Requirements and Procedures

Guidelines and Due Dates

A. Application and Proposal:

Students must submit email a copy of the completed application and proposal to the social science program area faculty committee chair (Dr. Sarah Giroux, sh104@cornell.edu) as well as a letter of support from their advisor, confirming their ability to oversee the thesis (see application deadlines below). Late applications will not be considered.

Application timeline & dates.

  • Junior year: Students are strongly encouraged to meet with faculty during their junior year in order to identify someone to serve as their honors thesis advisor. Honors thesis faculty advisors must be members of the graduate faculty. Exceptions may be granted for persons with special expertise pending petition to the committee.
  • For May graduates, the proposal is due the 4th Thursday of the fall semester to the Social Science Undergraduate Program Coordinator. (For December graduates, the proposal will be due the 4th Thursday of the Spring semester).
  • The thesis is due the 3rd Friday of April the spring semester to the Social Science Undergraduate Program Coordinator. (For December graduates, the proposal will be due the 3rd Friday of November in the Fall semester).

May Graduate Timeline
Academic Year 2019-2020
Proposals due 19 September 2019
Academic Year 2020-2021
Proposals due 17 September 2020
Academic Year 2021-2022
Proposals due 16 September 2021

Proposal Details.

Working with their honors thesis advisor, students should begin developing their thesis proposals during the second semester of junior year. The purpose of the proposal is twofold. First, it formalizes a plan of study and establishes a set of expectations between the student and the faculty advisor. Second, the honors committee reviews the proposal to determine whether it is consistent with honors thesis requirements and to make suggestions for improvement. Students accepted into the honors program should register for credit directed by the honors thesis faculty advisor (e.g., AEM 4990, COMM 4990, DSOC 4990, EDUC 4990).

The proposal should be 5 to 10 typed, double-spaced pages and include the following:

  1. Research Topic: State the problem to be studied or the topic of interest. Review the basic literature and the background of the problem or topic; include a more extensive bibliography to be consulted.
  2. Research Questions/Empirical Hypotheses: Specify the proposed questions to be answered or hypotheses to be tested empirically via collection of data and a mode of analysis accepted in the social sciences.
  3. Research Methods: Discuss the models to be constructed (if any), sampling procedures, data collection procedures (including measurement instruments and survey or experimental designs, if appropriate), and proposed methods of analysis.
  4. Expected Significance: State what new knowledge or information is likely to be forthcoming and why it is important. State any practical applications expected as a result of the research.
  5. Research Timeline: Provide a brief chronological plan for how you will complete your project by the April deadline. This is intended to help you think about how to plan your workload to complete the project by mid-April. In this section, you need to think about data collection and access issues (especially for students collecting their own data/those that will require Institutional Review Board approval. See more details here: https://www.irb.cornell.edu/faq/#gq3). You also should set targets for delivering drafts/updates to your advisor.
  6. Attached to your proposal, you need to include a letter signed by your advisor confirming their ability to oversee your project and confirming that you have jointly agreed upon the application and timeline.

Honors Degree Requirements

B. Final Submission for Review and Approval Requirements:

Honors theses should be written in accordance with formatting required for any standard journal within the appropriate field. Distinction in research is awarded upon approval of the research honors thesis by the committee. Both the results of the research and the methodology (or the logical argument by which the results were achieved) must be reported. Reviews of the literature, practical conclusions or applications, or broad characterizations of an area of inquiry may constitute part of the research report, but are not themselves sufficient as research.

The committee recommends the submission of the thesis draft to the research advisor two months before graduation to permit sufficient time for revision.

Completed theses are due approximately one month before graduation:

May Graduate Timeline
Academic Year 2019-2020
Final theses due 17 April 2020
Academic Year 2020-2021
Final theses due 16 April 2021
Academic Year 2021-2022
Final theses due 15 April 2022

One electronic copy of the final thesis (in pdf or Word format) should be sent by email to the Social Sciences program area faculty committee chair no later than the due date. A supporting letter from the faculty member supervising the work must be submitted either electronically or as a hard copy.

The thesis will be independently reviewed typically by two faculty committee members within about two weeks. If further revisions are required, students will be informed and a revised draft will be requested.

Students may volunteer to publish their final, approved thesis at eCommons Cornell University Library, as long as doing so does not interfere with other plans, such as patenting or publishing in a professional journal. A permission form to allow a thesis to be made available online at Mann Library can be obtained from the honors committee chair.

Each year, in recognition of student honors research achievements, CALS prints a booklet of honors theses abstracts (CALS Research Honors Abstracts). Students are responsible for submitting their formatted abstracts in accordance with abstract publication instructions.

We also recommend students to consult the following resources as they prepare their thesis drafts: