What is a ISAP 4908 and how does it differ from a regular course?

ISAP 4908 Honours Research Thesis differs from other courses in several respects. It is a full credit course and therefore spans two academic terms (fall and winter, September to April or full summer, May-August). Further, the purpose of a thesis is to make a contribution to the existing body of knowledge in the field of your science discipline. Consequently, it is quite different from an essay that you would write for a course that summarizes published research. There are no required lectures, seminars, textbooks, tests, etc. Instead, the course consists of an ongoing series of meetings between you and your Honours thesis supervisor, during which you talk about each phase of your project. For ISAP 4908 this would include selecting a topic, designing your study, carrying out experiments, collecting your data, analyzing your data, and writing up your results, all while spending several hours a week in the lab or field. You will produce a written thesis. You will also produce a poster that you will present at the Undergraduate Research Day.

What is ISAP 4907 and how does it differ from ISAP 4908?

ISAP 4907 Honours Essay and Research Proposal is similar to ISAP 4908 in that it is a full credit course, there are no required lectures, seminars, textbooks, tests. Further, the course consists of an ongoing series of meetings between you and your Honours thesis supervisor, during which you talk about each phase of your project. For ISAP 4907 this includes selecting a topic, designing your essay, doing an extensive literature review, discussing key papers with your professor, discussing the essay’s outline with your professor, writing a comprehensive essay on your topic, and writing a research proposal discussing what question(s) should be researched next, why they are of theoretical importance, and what methodology you would follow to address the question(s). Similar to ISAP 4908 you would produce a comprehensive written document. You also produce a poster that you present at the Undergraduate Research Day.

How do I find an advisor?

Students must show a good deal of initiative and persistence in finding an advisor. Your prospects for getting an advisor will be enhanced if you follow the tips listed below:

  • Do your homework. Most advisors prefer Honours students to work on topics that are closely related to their own research interests. It is therefore best to be familiar with faculty advisors’ research area before you approach them. A careful review of these websites will give you an overview of the kinds of research being conducted
  • Be flexible. Your interests are important but you will dramatically increase your chances of landing a supervisor if you are willing to be flexible in terms of your thesis project. This is the best way to end up with a project that is tailored to both your interests and the professor’s interests.
  • Write an informative email. Be sensitive to the fact that professors may be busy when you first approach them and include a subject heading in your email (e.g., Conduct an honours thesis research in your laboratory?). In your email you should briefly describe yourself, your research interests, discuss relevant courses you have taken or will take that will provide you with a strong background in this research area, a brief overview of your grades to date, and ask whether they would be willing to meet to discuss honours thesis possibilities. Be sure to state the terms and year that you plan to conduct your thesis i.e., summer 2020 or fall/winter 2020/21.
  • Go prepared. When meeting with potential advisors, make sure to bring a copy of your academic audit and come prepared with questions about their research program and how they mentor Honours thesis students. Review their lab website and read their recent publications to prepare.

Who can be a Supervisor?

Faculty members at Carleton, usually from the Faculty of Science are eligible to supervise students.  Students may also contact external research scientists from federal government or adjunct supervisors.  The links below are to lists of adjunct supervisors from Biology, Earth Sciences and Geography.

Biology Adjunct List

Earth Sciences Adjunct List

Geography Adjunct List

What do I do once I find a Thesis Supervisor?

When you have confirmed a faculty supervisor, you should fill out ISAP 4906-4907-4908 FORM.  The completed form should be emailed to Michelle Santoianni.

How do I make a scientific poster?

A poster can be a great tool at a conference for drawing people into conversation and give the audience a visual representation of your work. It is important to have a well put together poster that is easy to read and can be eye catching. See the following link to view the dos and don’ts on making a scientific poster; do’s and don’ts of making a poster