Honors in Biology
Criteria for Honors in Biology
The Biology Department will award Honors to a Biology major based on the candidate’s entire undergraduate Biology program; this is to include:
All courses required for the major and grades: Minimum grade point average of 3.0 is required in those courses that count towards the Biology major, including Chemistry 131-132 (or Chem 141), 241, 242 (or their equivalent), and transfer courses that receive biology credit.
Nature of the curriculum selected.
Successful completion of an Honors research project:
- The project may be performed in two semesters of Independent Research (Biol 550) or student–faculty research (Biol 560) on campus, or in a summer plus one semester of Independent Research, under the supervision of a Biology faculty member.
- Research projects of comparable scope performed off-campus under the supervision of a mentor who is not a Biology faculty member may also be proposed for departmental Honors, subject to the procedures described below.
- The Honors research project should be distinguished by the originality and definition of the research problem, the sophistication of the experimental design, its execution, analysis, and presentation of the results.
- Generally, Honors reports should be of publishable or near publishable quality. The Honors Committee will consider all these factors in its recommendation to the faculty, and the faculty should be cognizant of all these factors when voting Honors.
Procedures (Applying for Honors in Biology)
A student who intends to apply for Honors in Biology must notify the Biology Chair of this intention in writing. Please note that for Honors projects supervised by a Biology faculty member, the deadline is the close of registration for the semester in which the Honors may be awarded. Honors projects supervised by a mentor who is not a Biology faculty member have a deadline of the close of registration for the semester prior to the one in which the Honors may be awarded.
- The Department Chair will appoint a Committee. In the case of Honors projects supervised by a Biology faculty member, the committee will consist of three Biology faculty members, with the student’s research advisor as chair. In the case of Honors projects supervised by a mentor who is not a Biology faculty member, the committee will consist of that outside mentor, the student’s major advisor as chair, and another Biology faculty member.
- The student is responsible for securing a letter of agreement from the outside mentor, indicating willingness to serve in this capacity. (Deadline: 1 week after registration)
- The student will present the Committee with a written proposal for work intended. (Deadline: 2 weeks after registration)
- The Honors advisor will convene a meeting of the Committee. Off-campus committee members may participate remotely by electronic means. At this meeting, the Committee members will review the student’s previous work in Biology and related courses to determine whether the student is qualified to proceed. They will review the proposed project to discuss its merit and feasibility, to identify problems or questions that need to be addressed, and to define their respective roles with respect to the project. Finally, they will set dates for receipt of first and final drafts of the project paper and for oral presentation. These deadlines should take into consideration the time for the staff to meet and act prior to the submission of senior awards and prizes. The Committee will decide whether or not the student is to be accepted as a candidate for Honors and will then notify the Chair. (Deadline: 3 weeks after registration to meet with and report to Chair)
- The Department Chair will notify the student in writing of the Committee’s decision, and will advise the student that the final decision on the granting of honors will depend on both the Honors research project and the remainder of the student’s course work. (Deadline: 4 weeks after registration)
- The student should remain in contact with the Committee and keep them informed of progress. At the end of the project, both an oral and a written report are expected. The final paper, considered by the Committee shortly before making its recommendation to the Biology Faculty, will be judged on the quality of research reported therein, and the quality of the paper itself. After the final paper has been received, the Committee will decide whether to recommend the granting of Honors by the Biology Department Faculty, who will vote prior to the deadline for the submission of senior awards and prizes.
Guidelines for the Honors Thesis
Honors research is to be reported in a paper that follows the format of an appropriate journal. The C.B.E. Style Manual is recommended as a reference. Specific formatting of this document should follow the guidelines set forth by the Archives and Special Collections department in the library. The student is responsible for properly acknowledging all help received. A draft of the paper is to be submitted to each Committee member by the deadline set by the Committee. The final paper should represent the final revision of the Honors report. The student should submit two copies of the final paper (one for the Biology Department and one for the Dickinson College Library), plus others if the Committee requests them. The paper will be judged on these criteria:
- A. Quality of research reported therein. Preferably, of course, the results of the research will be conclusive and complete. Negative results of research conducted in a logical, careful, and thorough manner, however, will be equally acceptable.
- B. Quality of the paper itself. The writing should be clear and concise. It should be logically arranged, and should reflect a thorough search of the pertinent literature. Tables and figures should be well planned and executed. The format of an appropriate biological journal should have been closely followed.
Please refer to the Thesis Formatting Guide (PDF)