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Senior Thesis Guidelines

Dear Senior English Majors doing b-term theses:

Congratulations on nearing completion of your senior project (the thesis). We join your faculty tutor in encouraging you to make certain that your thesis represents your best work in both its substance and form (see below).  The deadline for filing your thesis is no later than 3:00 p.m. on Tuesday, May 9, 2017.  This year the thesis must be filed in both printed and electronic form as either a Microsoft Word or a pdf document.  You should submit the printed copy at the English Department Office along with a completed copy of the permission slip from the library.   The library is now keeping an electronic copy of all theses in their archives.  You can file the electronic copy by email to almateer@vassar.edu, or, if you prefer, put it on a CD and drop it off at the office.  A delay can be granted only in exceptional circumstances and requires the recommendation of the your senior project tutor and the co-chair.

  1. The text of your paper, exclusive of bibliography, should contain a minimum of 10,000 words (the equivalent of 40 typed pages).
  2. You should title the electronic document with your name, the name of your tutor, and the academic term, for example JDoeAntelyes16a.doc or JDoeAntelyes16a.pdf.
  3. Your paper must contain a title page listing your name, the name of your tutor, and the academic term. The printed copy need not have a thesis binder.
  4. You should include a bibliography citing all books, articles, URLs and media used in your paper, but you need not have a table of contents.
  5. Double-space the text, and single-space and indent lengthy quotations.  Quotation marks are not needed for single spaced quotations. 
  6. Margins on all sides, including the bottom, must be ample.  Please allow a wider margin at the left to allow for possible binding.  Number pages after the first.
  7. Footnotes are not always necessary, but wherever reference is needed, a convenient and consistent system (footnoting or endnoting) is essential.  Talk over the needs of your particular paper with your tutor. 
  8. Verify quotations–capitals, punctuation, spelling, alignment of verse, etc.–with care.  Check page and line references, and indicate ellipses and omissions in the conventional way. Cite URLs using standard scholarly formats.
  9. Do not rely upon your word processor/spellchecker for spelling or matters of grammar and usage such as the division of words into syllables, current practice in punctuation, or compounds.  Refer to a standard dictionary and scholarly usage guide as well. Whatever forms you adopt, keep them consistent throughout your paper. You alone are responsible for proof-reading the final copy carefully.
  10. Remember that you not only must acknowledge direct quotations from other writers but also ideas, structure, or language taken from them as well.  On questions of proper attribution, consult the Student Handbook and Originality and Attribution, available through the English department office or your tutor.

Best wishes,

Mark Amodio, Chair