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Curriculum Objectives
Course Requirements
Developing the Thesis Project
Human Subjects Review
Implementing and Completing the Study
Writing the Thesis Report
Thesis Submission
List of Appendices
Thesis Guidelines

200 - Course Requirements

200.1 - Major Deadlines


October 23

Completion, submission and advisor approval of the Thesis Proposal
The research advisor will review the thesis proposal and indicate what components of the proposal are clearly or strongly addressed as well as noting those components that need additional work and list the needed revisions. The Human Subjects Review Planning Form should be submitted to the Administrative Assistant on or before October 23rd and those who are doing quantitative projects need to inform the Research Analyst.


December 4

The first substantive chapter (Literature Review)
The research advisor will evaluate your problem formulation and the first chapter using the Formative Evaluation 1 (Appendix U1) as a checklist of completed and remaining work for this portion of the thesis.


January 22

The second substantive chapter (Methodology)
The research advisor will evaluate your second chapter using the Formative Evaluation 2 (U2) as a checklist of completed and remaining work for this portion of the thesis. The status of the Human Subjects Review process will also be a part of this checklist.


April 10

Data collection
Data collection should be completed for quantitative and qualitative projects.


May 6

The third substantive chapter (Findings)
The research advisor will review all written material using the Formative Evaluation 3 (U3) as a checklist of completed and remaining work that will guide the student.


May 31

Completion, submission and advisor approval of the full Thesis draft
The research advisor will review the thesis draft and indicate approval of the final chapters and/or extent of work remaining.

Students are expected to have completed the bulk of the thesis, operationalized as advisor approved drafts of the introduction, literature review, methodology, and findings chapters and a minimum of work remaining on the discussion chapter and formatted references. 


June 7

Advisors should complete the Formative Evaluation 4 (U4) to be submitted on or before June 7th.


Advisors of students who have not met the end-of-May deadline need to notify the Thesis Coordinator re: those students who will enter post-residency status. THERE ARE NO EXTENSIONS. No summer advising will be offered to post-residency students.

Work on the thesis during the first summer term should focus on fine-tuning the chapters, minor editorial revisions and formatting.


June 24, noon

Final, approved thesis submission
The final, approved thesis is due for submission to the Administrative Assistant on or before the deadline. The advisor evaluation and final grade for the thesis will be reflected on the Summative evaluation form completed and submitted by the research advisor on or before July 1st and will count for 90% of the final grade (See Appendix U5). A passing final grade (P) will be given if all chapters receive a grade of “Addressed.”


August 5

The requirement for dissemination must be completed on or before the deadline and will count for 10% of the grade. Students must submit the Confirmation and Evaluation form that should be completed (on both sides) by the moderator, second reader, etc. (See Appendix U6).

Steady and consistent work is expected on the Thesis project. Adhering to these interim deadlines will ensure that the final deadline will be met. It should be noted that the October, January, and May deadlines represent the last possible moment for student submission if the work is to be completed by the deadline. Research advisors are required to notify the Thesis Coordinator and the student in writing by email and/or letter if a student fails to meet the October, December, January, April or May interim deadlines.

200.2 - Dissemination of Knowledge Requirement

Provisions are made for the reporting and collegial sharing of each project. Students must elect to present their work during the final term in a colloquium, poster session, present to a class which has relevant content (with permission of the instructor), discuss the work with a second reader selected from faculty and other appropriate professionals, agency staff presentation, or professional social work conference. When the dissemination occurs away from Smith, the signed confirmation and evaluation dissemination form must be sent to the Administrative Assistant.

NOTE: Students who enroll in the course on “Writing for Professional Publication and Presentation” (581) may elect to fulfill the dissemination requirement by presenting their work in that class. Colloquia and poster sessions have proven to be a rewarding experience for students who do not feel ready to make a more structured public presentation. Poster sessions involve creation of materials for visual display -- posters, pictures, graphs, etc. A summary handout and brief bibliography are also presented with posters. Another option is a panel presentation provided at a specified period of time (usually a two-hour panel presented by several students) in which the author describes the study and materials in greater depth.

Students can complete the dissemination requirements off campus (i.e. at their field placement or another agency) before submission of the complete thesis. However, the student must have completed the findings chapter and be able to present implications of their findings. The dissemination form must be signed by a person with an M.S.W. or higher degree.

Documentation of the dissemination requirement must be filed with the Research Sequence Administrative Assistant, who has the responsibility of ensuring that all seniors meet this requirement before graduation. Colloquium and Poster Session instructions are available from the Administrative Assistant for arrangement/planning purposes. There is a "Dissemination Confirmation and Evaluation" form (Appendix U6) to complete for any option: class presentation, colloquium, poster session, agency presentation, and on campus second readers. The deadline for submission of the Dissemination Confirmation form is the first Friday in August.

An abstract of each project is published in the Smith College Studies in Social Work. Articles based on the project occasionally are selected and invited for publication.

200.3 - Resources

While these requirements emphasize the obligations of the student, the School and the Research Sequence also undertake certain obligations to support students' thesis work. These are to provide:


classroom instruction in research methods during the summer prior to thesis initiation, at a level commensurate with each student's background in research;


a research advisor who will meet with each student on a regular basis during the advising period. Long-distance (over a 2 hour drive) advising will be done via web cam, email and/or telephone only. In-person visits can occur for those advisors/students that are matched by proximal location.


data processing and other technical resources for statistical work;


formal and informal problem resolution through the Thesis Coordinator;


Guidelines and other written materials to assist students in meeting requirements, such as the Worksheet for Thesis Submission; and


assistance to students in planning for dissemination of study results.

200.4 - Research Advising

Research advising assignments are determined according to the advisor’s knowledge, skills and experience in research methods. They are generally not made on the basis of knowledge in a specific substantive area.

It is critical to note that research advisors are NOT line by line editors who proofread for grammar/spelling and/or APA formatting. Prior to submitting all drafts to your advisor, you should edit your written work thoroughly to the best of your ability, using the various sources provided in the Thesis Guidelines, The APA Publication Manual, Moodle’s Thesis Advising Resource page and the resources on Moodle’s Writing Resource page. If further writing and/or editing assistance is needed, you and your advisor should contact the Thesis Coordinator to discuss available supports.

Advisors are not contracted to work with students until the beginning of placement. Research advisors are contracted from the start of placement in early September (Tuesday after Labor Day) through the May deadline, and beginning again on the first day of third summer classes until the thesis deadline on the fourth Friday of June.

Once the field placement period begins, the student should take the initiative to contact the research advisor by telephone or letter. Be reminded that it may take some time for agency address/telephone information to reach the advisor. Students and advisors should use their Smith address for all email communications.

Once started, the research advisor and student, together, should establish the frequency and type of contact that works best for both parties. The purpose of these working conferences is to assist the student in selecting a focus for inquiry, developing a design, implementing a project and preparing a final paper. The advisor reviews and comments on written work submitted periodically during the interval from September through May. Resources for instrument design and data analysis are available during field practice period and the first four weeks of the summer.

Local Advising: The research advisor and student should discuss and establish the frequency of in-person meetings that works best for both parties. The research advisor and student should also identify the location of these in-person meetings. Additional telephone and email contact may supplement the in-person meetings. The student and the advisor will communicate most often through mail or email, as drafts of the thesis are mailed out and sent back for revisions.

Long-distance Advising: All long-distance advising will be done via web cam, email and/or telephone. Advisors who are assigned students who live further than a two hour drive are considered long-distance advisors. The research advisor and student should discuss and establish the frequency and type of meetings that works best for both parties. Advisors who need to purchase web cams will be reimbursed by SCSSW. Students who have long-distance advisors can sign out a Logitech web cam from SCSSW prior to leaving campus at the end of their second summer.

Advisors offer additional consultation to students on their return to campus for the senior summer session. During the first four weeks of the summer, an advisor consults with the student on a regularly scheduled basis. Winter advisors retain their advisees in the summer, although in rare circumstances it is necessary for some students to transfer advisors. Consultation can be done in person, on the telephone, or by email.

Should any advisor or student feel that there are difficulties concerning the pacing or quality of the thesis or in the advising relationship, they should communicate this to one another first and then to the Thesis Coordinator as early in the process as seems reasonable. The point is to allow time to remedy the situation, rather than waiting until spring or summer when it is more difficult to remedy delays. The Thesis Coordinator will work with the student and advisor to resolve any difficulties or to provide additional resources. Should problems or difficulties persist, the matter will be referred first to the Sequence Chair and then to the Academic and Field Work Performance Committee of the School for additional consultation. Ordinarily, problems are easily resolved through consultation with the Thesis Coordinator, especially when the advisor and student are able to identify them early in the thesis process.

An SSW research analyst is available to students and advisors during the field placement period and in the beginning of the first summer term. Students who plan to work with the assistance of the research analyst must contact the analyst by October 23, 2015. Coding of data is the student's responsibility and there will be no assistance for data entry. The Coding and Data Analysis Handbook, located on Moodle SSW997, covers this process in detail.

Updated 6/9/15