What are some common errors people make when writing this project description?
There are three problems that occur frequently:
- Be sure to address all four guidelines. The one that most often does not receive an adequate answer is the last one, in which you should justify why the project is worthy of honors. See the next Question for more details.
- Know your audience. The Academic Status Committee may not necessarily include a member from your area of study, so be sure to explain the context, scope, substance, and importance of your project in terms that an intelligent nonspecialist will understand. Technical terms are not a substitute for explanation; the value of the project must be clearly stated in non-technical terms. For students in the sciences, that means that providing a brief relatively non-technical overview of your project before you get into the technical details would be a good idea (and will help you when you begin working on the Comprehensive Summary at the end of the process). For students not in the sciences, that means that you may need to add some context for your subject area that might not be necessary if all of the faculty on the committee were in your area of study. Another thing that the committee will be looking for is a sense of the big picture: What makes your research interesting and important and who may be interested in it? In the sciences that means addressing what the potential applications or implications are of your project (not that you are necessarily testing them, but that you are aware of them). In other fields that means addressing briefly how your project fits into some portion of the discipline or what parts of the discipline might find the results interesting. See this as an opportunity to educate others about your work.
- Be clear about what you have done and what you wish to do further. This problem is prevalent with those students basing their honors work on a previously completed project. Summarize the work completed, and devote much attention to the specific points you will develop further in your honors year. If you are expanding a previously written paper as part of a course or an independent study, please do not attach a copy of it; instead, provide a summary. An honors project is more than merely revising a term paper for a course. The ASC is looking for a clear indication of how you are expanding the context, scope, substance, and value of your work.