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The Big Paper That Grows

This guide has been created to assist you in the crafting of "The Big Paper That Grows."

Freshman Thesis Guidelines

Freshman Thesis

All students will be writing and presenting a thesis at the end of the academic year. They will be selecting a topic in collaboration with their instructor. Although students will be given general subjects to work with, they must tease out a reasonable, feasible and researchable topic. Students will be responsible for finding the topic, preparing a research question or statement, and planning a preliminary literature review by the end of the semester. The final thesis will have a minimum of 7,000 words excluding references, charts, and diagrams.

Some of the topics are listed below, although others will emerge in collaboration and discussion with your professor.

  • "Plato's 'Allegory of the Cave' and Abbott's 'Flatland': Treatment of Proof and Knowledge”
  • “Proving Ourselves: Borges, Dennett, and Harding”
  • "The Use of Language and Style as Identity Symbols”
  • "The Role of Globalization in the Fragility, Endangerment, or Death of Languages"


Important Dates!

  • Research Question or Statement due on Monday, October 12 by 11:59 PM 
  • Literature Review, due on Monday, December 7 by 11:59 PM

Steps For Writing the Freshman Thesis

The Thesis statement is a sentence that summarizes the main point of your paper and previews your supporting points. The thesis statement is important because it guides your readers from the beginning of your essay by telling them the main idea and supporting points of your essay (Pudue OWL, Developing a Thesis).

An annotated bibliography is a list of citations to books, articles, and documents. Each citation is followed by a brief (usually about 150 words) descriptive and evaluative paragraph, the annotation. The purpose of the annotation is to inform the reader of the relevance, accuracy, and quality of the sources cited (Cornell University Library).

A literature review is an account of what has been published on a topic by accredited scholars and researchers. Occasionally you will be asked to write one as a separate assignment (sometimes in the form of an annotated bibliography—see the bottom of the next tab), but more often it is part of the introduction to an essay, research report, or thesis.

In writing the literature review, your purpose is to convey to your reader what knowledge and ideas have been established on a topic, and what their strengths and weaknesses are. As a piece of writing, the literature review must be defined by a guiding concept (e.g., your research objective, the problem or issue you are discussing, or your argumentative thesis). It is not just a descriptive list of the material available, or a set of summaries (University of Toronto)

Rubrics listed below were crafted for grading the Freshman Thesis. Students may wish to use the rubrics as a guide to what is expected of of them in the writing of their paper.

Below are a few databases and resources that will assist in narrowing your topic and in your preliminary research. When everyone has decided on a specific topic more may be added to the list.