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Junior Thesis


A junior thesis is an extensive research and writing project that one conducts during the junior year of college; one may then develop this project into a deeper, more focused senior thesis, which will serve as the capstone of an undergraduate education. In order to write excellent junior theses, students should concentrate first on the creation and nurturing of a significant idea, which they will then argue in their theses with the help of outside research.

In order to develop a strong idea that will make a noteworthy junior thesis, one should first identify an area of the field in which he or she feels a great interest. Students may choose a broad subject at first and narrow it as the research progresses; for example, a student may begin by choosing to write a junior thesis on William Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury, and as the research exposes previously unknown interpretative approaches, he or she may then choose a specific interpretative method and a way to apply it to the novel. This process of narrowing an idea through the research process helps the student form an idea that is small enough to cover sufficiently in the length of a junior thesis and that is viable in the face of other experts' opinions.

Second, students who are writing junior theses should research their narrowed topics thoroughly, refining their conclusions on the chosen topics as they read more and more sources. If they encounter unfamiliar aspects of their subjects, they should not neglect to read basic research sources, such as encyclopedia articles and chapters from textbooks; these sources present the vocabulary and the elementary concepts of the subject in a concise manner. Additionally, students should not limit themselves to the research sources available in the university library. Instead, they should take full advantage of the library's interlibrary loan system, which can procure books and articles from other libraries.

Finally, students should organize and present their conclusions on the subject in written form. They should argue their own opinions on the subject, but they should support each point with evidence from external research.


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