Guidelines for the Research Prospectus for a Senior Honors Thesis
In order to be admitted to the Senior Honors Program in Philosophy, you must submit a research proposal. The purpose of this proposal is to help the Department assess whether you have sufficient philosophical background, abilities, and motivation to succeed in the program, to determine whether the faculty has sufficient expertise in your area of research to advise your thesis, and to give you an opportunity and incentive to get a head-start on your research.
By writing a senior thesis in philosophy, you are entering into an ongoing scholarly conversation rather than starting from scratch. The best theses are then framed as a response to the efforts of others to address the same question as you.
• As you are preparing to write your proposal, it is imperative that you get a sense of the current state of the scholarly conversation. The best data-bases for articles in philosophy are http://www.philpapers.org and The Philosophers Index (which you can access through the research guide on Frost Library’s Web site). Please look at both sites, since similar searches will yield different results. With a VPN connection (which you can download from IT’s Web site), you can access the library’s electronic journal subscriptions from anywhere in the world. Be sure to check out any books that you will need from Frost library before you leave town.
• Once you get a sense of the play of the field, think about how you want to enter the conversation. What question still remains that you would like to answer? Why is this question still a question? What is sufficiently puzzling and interesting about your question to justify your working for months to discover and articulate clearly your answer to it?
• Your thesis proposal should include your name, a preliminary title for your thesis, an approximately three-page discussion of the philosophical conversation that you are entering and the contribution that you hope to make, and a bibliography that includes at least three items of philosophical significance. Please send an electronic copy of your proposal to Dee Brace by 10:00 am, September 4, 2012.
In reviewing your thesis proposal, the Department will be looking for evidence that you have a clear question in mind, evidence that you already know something about the topic that you propose to research (in particular, that you are aware of important work in the existing literature), evidence that you will have some interesting to say about that question, and evidence that you can explain your ideas clearly and concisely.
May 10, 2012