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Research Guide

These guidelines are based upon Illinois Wesleyan University procedures and are intended for students majoring in Sociology.


Why work on a project for Research Honors?

The Research Honors program provides qualified students with an opportunity to work closely with a faculty member in the Department who serves as the advisor on a year-long research project that begins in the Fall semester as an Independent Study and continues during the Spring semester of the student’s senior year, either in Senior Seminar (Soc 492) or as an Independent Study (Anth 450). Students who pursue Research Honors undertake projects that test theories and employ methods developed by professionals in their discipline and make unique contributions to the field as a result.


Who can conduct Research Honors in the Department?

Sociology majors who have completed at least six course units in the major and have an overall GPA of 3.25 and a GPA of 3.5 in the major.


Timeline & Procedures:

Spring of the Junior year: Students who learn they qualify for Research Honors in the Spring of the Junior year need to meet with their major advisor to discuss possibly research topics. Students should then meet with the faculty member who will serve as their Project Advisor (if it is not their major advisor) and register for an Independent Study with that professor for the Fall of the Senior year.

Summer: The summer between the Junior and Senior year should include conducting preliminary research on the secondary literature on the topic under study and compiling an annotated bibliography that will be due at the beginning of the Fall semester.

Fall of the Senior year: At the beginning of the semester, students will need to collect two documents pertaining to Research Honors at the Associate Provost's Office in Holmes Hall 211: "Research Honors, Eligibility and Procedures," and the "Research Honors Record," which  students should work on the completion of with their research advisor. The deadline for submitting the Research Honors Record, which includes identifying a Project Advisor, the members of the Project Hearing Committee, and submitting a 1- page research proposal, is October 1 of the senior year. These documents must be submitted to the Associate Provost’s Office by that date.


The Research Proposal:

Develop a proposal that includes the following:

  1. a working title for your project
  2. a summary of the primary issue that the project addresses and how the subject matter fits into the secondary literature on the topic
  3. a timeline for the research over the course of the Fall and Spring semester
  4. an annotated bibliography of the secondary literature on the topic
  5. a description of the methods that will be used to conduct the research
  6. an IRB proposal for the research*
  7. a proposed outcome of the research (a set of policy guidelines, a publication, etc.)**
  8. a preliminary thesis statement

*Since sociological and anthropological research often includes ethnographic research that requires approval by the IWU Institutional Review Board (IRB), students will work with their research advisor to complete and submit an IRB application. Since this is often a time-consuming process, it is recommended that the IRB application be submitted early in the semester. Remember that all IRB consent forms must include a note that the final research paper will appear on IWU’s Digital Commons in electronic format that is searchable from the Ames Library’s web page.

**Research Honors projects may include an “applied” component, meaning the research ultimately benefits the community under study in some way ie: by providing an assessment tool, a set of policy guidelines, an historical record or a self-study report.


The Project Hearing Committee:

The Project Hearing Committee includes the student’s Project Advisor and three additional faculty members. One of the additional faculty members must be from a field outside of the student’s major. Membership of the Committee should be discussed in consultation with the Project Advisor and faculty members should not be approached about participation until the student has completed a research proposal as outlined above. The student must be prepared to articulate why each faculty member is being asked to serve on the Hearing Committee and provide an overview of the research being conducted. The student should also communicate any expectations to consult members of the Committee for input as the project develops.

Spring of the Senior Year: Sociology students continue pursuing the research under the direction of their Project Advisor and in consultation with the professor teaching the Senior Seminar. 

Students are required to submit a copy of the final research paper to each member of the Hearing Committee at least three weeks prior to the Hearing . Students are also required to meet with each member of the Committee at this time to discuss the paper and receive feedback. At this meeting, the student will propose some options for the date and time of the Hearing and note when each Committee member is available. It is the student’s responsibility to work with the Social Sciences office manager to find a classroom in CLA for the Hearing. The date for the Hearing must be prior to the last week of classes to provide time for any mandated revisions to the paper before final submission, which is due the last day of classes .

The Hearing: Candidates should pick up the Research Honors Record from the Associate Provost’s office prior to the Hearing, and bring it to the Hearing with them. The Hearing will include an oral presentation of the research by the candidate, which may include a visual presentation (ie: powerpoint) and an opportunity for each member of the Hearing Committee to ask questions and raise issues pertaining to the research. Some faculty will provide written comments while others will give oral comments. Students should be prepared to take detailed notes of the feedback in order to make any changes necessary to the paper before final submission.

In a closed session following the Hearing, the Committee members shall consider the merits of the completed project and any associated presentation, and decide by a majority vote (3 to 1 is required for positive decision) whether or not to grant the designation “Research Honors in Sociology.”

Paper Submission: Decisions regarding research honors must be reached and reported to the Associate Provost prior to 4:30 p.m. on Friday of the last week in which classes are held . At this time, a final copy of the honors paper or document should be submitted to the Associate Provost for the University’s permanent records. At this time, students will be asked to sign a release so that the paper can be submitted to the IWU Digital Commons, accessible via the Ames Library web page. A copy of the approved paper must also be filed with the Chair of the Sociology Department.

Todd Fuist - Chair and Associate Professor of Sociology

Department - Sociology & Anthropology