Requirements for Research Thesis Chem 96
REQUIREMENTS FOR RESEARCH THESIS - CHEMISTRY 96 (2012-2013)
The comprehensive requirement in Chemistry/Biochemistry may be met by completion of an
undergraduate thesis based on research work. Enrollment in a minimum of two credits of Chem
96 (Research Thesis) over the last three semesters of the student's residence at Swarthmore is
required; typically, this is done by one credit in each of the two semesters of the senior year. One
summer of research is strongly recommended. An additional summer (or summers) is (are)
Friday, January 25: Thesis proposal due to committee members
Week of January 28-February 1: Meetings with committees to review proposal
A Thursday afternoon in April: 15 minute thesis talk by each student to department
Friday May 10 at 5 PM: Written theses due to committee
May 20-21: Thesis oral exams by committees
Wednesday May 29 at Noon: Corrected version of thesis due.
The following are the Department's expectations for work in Chem 96:
1. Time Input: approximately 12-15 hours per week for each of two semesters.
2. Attendance at the departmental Colloquium Series (including preview sessions before each
speaker's visit) is mandatory.
3. Selecting, from among the faculty, a thesis committee. The three-member committee is
responsible for reading and evaluating the student's thesis proposal (see below, item 4),
reading and evaluating the completed thesis prior to the oral defense, and orally examining
the student during the time scheduled in the college calendar for comprehensive
examinations at the end of the senior year. Students, in consultation with their faculty
advisor, suggest names for the committee. Final committee membership is determined by the
faculty. The research advisor must be one of those chosen; at least one of the additional
faculty members should be from the chemistry department. The third member may be from
4. Submission of a thesis proposal (due date: Friday, January 25), which is intended to help
each student organize the final semester of thesis work. Writing a thesis is a big undertaking
and it is important to plan ahead and start early to avoid being overwhelmed at the end of the
year. The specific aims of this assignment are as follows:
a) to encourage a thorough and critical examination of the scientific literature related to
the research project.
b) to evaluate the current status of each student's research and plan a strategy for
completing any remaining laboratory work, calculations, or data analysis.
c) to plan the contents of the thesis.
d) to get feedback about each student's progress and plans from the thesis committee.
The thesis proposal should consist of the following three sections:
I. Introduction (2-3 pages of text, 1.5 spaced): The introduction of the proposal is to
be written for an audience in your general field of research, i.e., skip very general
background material. It should contain a concise description of the aims and
scope of the thesis project and relevant background about your specific
experimental and/or theoretical approach. It should also put your project in the
context of any closely related work in the scientific literature. This will require a
good command of the literature directly related to your project and the
introduction should make generous reference to these sources.
II. Progress Report (less than 2 pages of text; use as many figures (with captions),
and tables as needed): Describe the work you have done thus far. Present your
most significant data and conclusions. This may include negative results. Assess
the degree of completion of your project, specifically addressing the aims and
scope described in the Introduction.
III. Proposed Work (less than 2 pages of text): Describe any remaining experiments,
calculations, and/or analysis you plan to include in your thesis. How will these
contribute to your project? Is it feasible to complete this work in the time
5. Presentation of a 15 minute thesis talk (~12 minute talk, ~3 minutes for questions) to the
department. This will occur in a regular seminar slot (Thursday afternoon) in April.
6. Submission of a written research thesis to the committee (due date: 5 PM on Friday, May 10). Turn in a double-sided hard copy to each member of your committee. The thesis should be double spaced with 1 inch top, bottom, and right side margins, 1.5 inch left side margins.
Please include page numbers.
The Research Thesis should have the following structure:
a) Abstract: A one page summary of the results and conclusions of the entire thesis.
b) Introduction: A detailed review of the recent literature pertaining to the research project. It
should attempt to fit the project into the wider framework of the field.
c) Experimental Section: A detailed description of all the experimental techniques used in
the research project as well as a detailed account of the experimental procedures used in
d) Results: Presentation of the experiments conducted and the results obtained from them. It
should not be assumed that the reader has already read the experimental section. The
experiments should be described and the experimental section referred to for details. This
section should contain tables and figures with detailed legends.
e) Discussion: Summary of the results of the work with the emphasis on the conclusions
which can be drawn from the work and the theoretical explanation (if applicable) for these
conclusions. This section may contain some (but not too much) speculation on the
meaning of the work and should provide suggestions for future experiments intended to
support, verify or extend the present project.
7. There will be an oral defense of the thesis during the time scheduled in the college calendar
for comprehensive examinations (May 20-21).
8. Your final, corrected thesis will be due in to the Chemistry general office by noon on
Wednesday, May 29. You may wish to hand it in earlier so as to enjoy senior week.
The thesis must be in a format suitable for binding and reproduction:
Three good quality copies (one for you, one for your supervisor, one for the seminar room)
Single sided, double spaced
Margins: 1 inch top, bottom, and right side; 1.5 inch left side
Please include page numbers