Top Ten List for Senior Seminar
Student Advice for Senior Research:
How to actually finish and make the most of your Social Science/Human Issues Senior Project *
10. With the same care as you pick your friends, pick a topic in which you are really interested. You are going to be spending A LOT of time on this project, and you will regret it if you pick something that you don't really care about. Make sure your topic is narrow and concise.
9. Nothing like a deadline…Be sure to meet the deadlines as issued. The Human Issues project is indeed a large project, but it is very "doable" if you keep up with the deadlines.
8. You get by with a little help from…your professors. Don't be afraid to ask professors for help. This includes professors you may have for classes, your advisor, or a professor that is in the field of one of the disciplinary aspects you are incorporating into your project.
7. Research early, research often. Start with a "ton" of research from all different angles. The more firsthand research (i.e., interviews, visits, etc.) the better. Allot plenty of time for scheduling interviews & visits—call early. Use your reference librarians for help on your research.
6. Organization matters—keep your journal articles organized. I had an enormous stack of articles and was getting overwhelmed, so I wrote down a list of the main sections of my paper and assigned each section a different color post-it note. Then as I went through the articles I stuck the corresponding post-it note on the article and put them all in an organized binder. It made it a lot easier to find information and keep everything straight.
5. Technology works for you, not you for it—Use an online bibliography program. The library has a great program, RefWorks, which reduces the hassle of writing the bibliography out manually. Keep this updated as you go along and don't wait to add all your references at once.
4. If possible, make your project something that is useful and relevant to your future area of work. While working on my project, I met with Career Services, and they explained how beneficial having a research project related to a future job can be. Prospective employers look favorably on projects like these, and it will also give you something to talk about in an interview.
3. Add value(s). Identify values and ethical issues embedded in your topic and critically reflect on these throughout your project. Doing your research with these in mind will offer you more depth and a unique lens to make sense of what you're learning and experiencing.
2. Think about why your topic is important to the world, your community, and you. This is probably one of my favorite pieces of advice. This is your chance to actually bring something legitimate to the table, something to add to the public conversation. Instead of asking "how can I be sure my research does no harm," ask yourself "how can I be sure my research does well?" Corollary: Get out of your comfort zone and do something in the community.Make this project really mean something to you. You will be extra proud of how it turns out if you've made a difference in the community along the way.
1. JUST DO IT! Have fun with the project—worrying about it is a waste of energy.
* Compiled and adapted from the responses of three former SS 484 students who successfully completed their SS/Human Issues Senior Projects… and lived to tell about it!