Writing Your Thesis
Reference Librarians and thesis advisors can be invaluable resources as you prepare to write your thesis. The key to making thesis writing a relatively painless process lies in planning ahead. Come talk to a librarian early on. We can help you choose a topic, narrow your topic to a more reasonable size, locate resource both here at Whitman and in other libraries, and plan the research process so it all runs smoothly. Contact the reference department as soon as you can to set up a research consultation
Start your research early, and plan ahead. The University of Minnesota has a useful Assignment Calculator that will help you manage time constraints
Choosing a Topic
Sometimes choosing a topic can seem like the most difficult part of the whole process. Looking at other theses can give you some ideas about scope, arrangement, and depth of projects that qualify for Honors, and can really help you narrow your ideas to something you can research. You can find previous theses in the Penrose catalog: Enter your department name in the search box, and select "Thesis" from the Material Type drop down menu. If you'd like to find something recent, you can sort the list by date.
Penrose Library contains a wealth of material that will be useful to you as your research your thesis topic, but finding exactly what you need can be daunting. We can help you search databases, indexes, and catalogs to find books, government documents, bibliographies, articles, and more. We can even help you locate resources held in other libraries.
When looking for books and collections, begin with resources available in the Penrose Library Catalog. For many topics, Penrose Library will have a sufficient amount of material. Having trouble finding books in the library? Check out our guide to Finding Books on the Shelves.
We also subscribe to many electronic databases specific to various disciplines. If you're not sure which database will be best for your topic, or if you need help searching, come by the reference desk or make an appointment with a librarian.
All seniors working on theses are entitled to additional library privileges:
- Semester-long checkout of Penrose Library books. This does not extend to books borrowed via Summit or interlibrary loan.
- Year-long use of a locker in the library—Very handy if you don't want to carry three dozen books around with you all the time. (Please make sure all the books in your locker are actually checked out to you.)
To apply for a locker and semester-long check out rights, please fill out our Senior Privileges form (PDF).
Honors Thesis Guidelines
Don't forget to read the Honors Thesis Guidelines. These guidelines, specific to those writing honors theses, will tell you everything you need to know about formatting and submitting your thesis.