Laboratory Research

Guidelines for Preparing a Laboratory Research Honors Thesis in MCB

Register for MCB 4997W, Honors Research Thesis, the semester you plan to complete your thesis (usually your final semester).

Your thesis may reflect 1) your laboratory research, or 2) your thesis may be based on literature research with the consent of your thesis advisor and your honor’s advisor. In the first case, your thesis should take the form of a master’s thesis or a scientific journal research paper. In the latter case, it should take the form of a review article. Your thesis must be a minimum of 15 pages, double spaced, exclusive of tables, figures, and references. Detailed guidelines are given below. These guidelines may also be used for undergraduates writing a senior thesis outside of the Honors Program.


Note: Deadlines for submission of final thesis can be found here.

The deadline dates required by your thesis advisor and your MCB honors advisor to read and evaluate your thesis may be earlier than that set by the Honors Program. At least one draft of the thesis must be given to your thesis advisor and revised prior to final submission. It is your responsibility to establish due dates acceptable to your thesis advisor and to your honors advisor.

A. By the third week of your final semester an Honors Scholar Thesis Plan with thesis title and abstract and signatures of Honors Advisor and Thesis Supervisor must be submitted to the Honors Office (ROWE 419).

B. You are required to submit a draft of your thesis to your thesis advisor and your Honors advisor by the deadlines established by these advisors.

C. You are required to submit the final version of your thesis to the Honors office by the deadline set by the Honors Program.


A. Format 

Your thesis must follow the format given below. For examples, you can examine copies of the Honors theses of all previous students from the biology departments in the Honors office in ROWE or visit the Digital Commons.

1. Approval or title page – The approval page should include the title of your thesis, your full name, signature lines for your thesis advisor, your Honors advisor, and any other thesis advisors as appropriate, the biology department in which your thesis was conducted, and the date.

2. Abstract. The abstract should be about 250 words on a separate page.

3. Acknowledgments. (optional)

4. Table of contents. (optional)

5. List of Tables. (optional)

6. List of Figures. (optional)

7. Introduction.

8. Materials and Methods.

9. Results. This section may encompass several chapters.

10. Discussion.

11. Literature Cited. The format of the citations should follow that used in a scientific journal in your field. A typical format is shown below:

Huang, J. et al. 2004. Lsh, an epigenetic guardian of repetitive elements. Nucleic Acids Research 32(17):5019-5028.

B. Font, spacing, margins, & page numbering Use a clear font no smaller than 10 point and no larger than 12 point. All parts of the thesis with text should be doubled spaced. The margins should be 1.5 inches on the left and at least 1 inch on the top, bottom, and right sides. Pages should be numbered consecutively beginning with the approval page.

C. Document Production Ask your thesis advisor whether they prefer a printed hard copy or electronic copy of your final thesis. For printing, use of 8.5 x 11 inch white bond paper is generally preferred. Electronic copies may be submitted to your thesis advisor as .doc, .pdf or other file format depending on your advisor’s preference.

D. Figures Electronic images embedded into the final document are preferred.