Showcase the impact of your Princeton education through your junior project, senior thesis, and other independent work. Every A.B. student must complete a junior independent work and a senior thesis, and every B.S.E. student carries out independent research as part of the curriculum, either in the form of a year-long senior thesis or through semester-long projects. In fulfilling your independent work requirements, you will develop and demonstrate the abilities and traits that define a liberal arts education: Independence of mind and judgment Engagement with a scholarly conversation about a relevant problem The capacity to pursue a subject in depth The ability to design and execute a complex project The skills of analysis, synthesis, and clear writing The maturity and self-confidence that grow from reckoning with an intellectual challenge Completing independent work is an exciting opportunity to develop your own slant on a body of research. It also requires planning, time-management, and connecting with advisers. There are many resources available to help, starting with your faculty thesis adviser in your academic department. Planning Your Project Brainstorm It’s never too early to begin thinking about your independent work. You can start brainstorming topics well before you select your major. In fact, conducting research on a particular topic can help in the process of finalizing your choice of major. The seeds of many junior papers and senior thesis topics are planted in courses taken early on in a student’s academic career. Approach your coursework with the thought that it could provide the starting point for independent work, and that it could provide a possible faculty adviser, should you ultimately choose to major in that field. Identify a Thesis Topic Selecting the right topic or the proper scope is ideally done in close consultation with your thesis adviser. The earlier you start a dialogue with faculty, the better. Students in the sciences conducting lab research might have their topic nailed down the summer before senior year. In the humanities and social sciences the topic would normally be settled as early in the fall of senior year as possible, in order to maximize research possibilities and locate the best possible primary and secondary sources. The best advice is to select a topic that you are passionate about. Without an underlying passion for your topic, completing a substantial research project is difficult. With that passion for the subject in place, writing the thesis can be one of the most fulfilling and, indeed, fun experiences of your academic career. If you need help formulating a topic, consult the online database of senior theses, which holds information about student works dating back to 1926. Also visit the basement of the Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library, home to over 63,000 archived senior theses. Find Your Adviser Consult your department’s instructions on how to find an adviser. Some departments collect information on students' interests and assign advisers, while some expect students to approach faculty on their own. If you are in a department where it is your responsibility to find an adviser, don’t be shy! Get to know faculty outside the classroom by taking advantage of office hours and attending departmental events. Faculty generally welcome conversations about advising independent work. For the best outcome, brainstorm ideas for possible topics to discuss, and ask how the faculty member likes to structure their work with advisees. The earlier you start, the better chance you have of connecting with your ideal adviser, one who is interested in your topic and encourages you, but challenges you as well. One final note: It is entirely normal to have to approach several faculty before you find an adviser, so persevere! Understand Departmental Requirements Independent work requirements vary widely across academic departments. Consult the departmental independent work guides to familiarize yourself with their specific goals and expectations. The standards by which work will be evaluated are described in each department’s independent work guide. Find Funding Many departments and programs have funding available to support independent work. The key to taking full advantage of funding opportunities is to start planning early. If you’re applying for funding to do thesis research in the summer; the deadline is in late March of your junior year. Successful applicants have strong faculty endorsement at that time. Seek Help In addition to your faculty adviser, there are many other resources available: Writing Center: Book a free, one-on-one writing conference Survey Research Center: Get advice on collecting original survey data Library Research: Explore helpful guides by discipline Data and Statistical Services: Get help choosing data, applying quantitative methods, interpreting statistical analyses, converting data, and creating visualizations. Human and Animal Research: Find guidance on research integrity and compliance. International Research: Connect with opportunities on campus and around the world. Seniors should plan to attend the senior thesis boot camps hosted by the residential colleges and the writing program. Get that thesis finished in the company of your peers and with good snacks! Additional Resources McGraw Center for Teaching and Learning Find tips for mastering independent projects and breaking large projects down into manageable pieces. Office of Undergraduate Research: Independent Work Plan your research with guides by academic department, a thesis archive, and access to other campus resources. The Writing Center Sign up for free, one-on-one conferences about writing at any stage in the process, including independent projects. Undergraduate Announcement Review academic regulations, programs of study, and undergraduate course offerings in this publication released each August.