Template for Honors Thesis, Department of Biological Sciences
1. Delete this first page of instructions, as well as in-text instructions, prior to submission.
2. Students should enter data in the spaces indicated by brackets; the template should not be
3. The document should be double-spaced throughout, including reference, tables and figure
4. The text of the document should be 12-point Arial/Helvetica throughout; text section
headings are 14 point Bold Arial/Helvetica; document section headings are centered, 16
point Bold, Small-Caps Arial/Helvetica. If you accidentally reformat the template, please
return to these specifications.
5. Thesis should be submitted as follows:
a. An electronic version should be sent as a Microsoft Word document labeled as
LastName_FirstName_THESIS.doc to firstname.lastname@example.org. Do not submit a PDF.
b. Seven printed copies of the thesis should be submitted to Christine Berliner.
6. Signatures must be obtained on page 3 for one of the seven printed copies. Theses without
signatures will not be accepted.
7. If a revision is requested, the electronic file and a single, signed hard copy should be
[Your Full Name]
[Day Month Year]
Research Mentor : [pluralize “Mentor” you had a co-advisor on this project]
Dr. [Full Name of Mentor], [Department of Research Mentor]
[Enter the name and Department of additional mentors, if any]
This thesis has been submitted in partial fulfillment for
Graduation with Honors from
The Department of Biological Sciences,
University of Pittsburgh
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Title Page 1
Table of Contents 2
Student’s and Mentor’s Release 3
Materials and Methods [Enter page number]
Results [Enter page number]
Discussion [Enter page number]
Acknowledgments [Enter page number]
Literature Cited [Enter page number]
Tables [Enter page number]
Figures [Enter page number]
STUDENT’S AND MENTOR’S RELEASE
We the undersigned affirm that:
The student has performed all of the experiments described herein. If other personnel have
assisted in the generation or analysis of data, those contributions have been noted.
The mentor has read at least one previous draft of this document and has provided
comments to the student.
The student has modified this document in response to comments provided by her/his
This thesis may include proprietary information, and we understand that this document will
not be shared with individuals outside the Department.
[Student’s full name] Date
[Mentor’s full name] Date
[Co-Mentor’s full name; delete if not applicable] Date
[Type the abstract of the thesis in this space. Abstract should conform to the following
The abstract should not exceed 300 words
The abstract must not exceed 1 page in length
The abstract should not include any citations to previous research
The abstract should not reference any figures or tables
The abstract should include (i) a brief summary of the background required to
understand the problem, (ii) a statement of the problem being examined herein, (iii) a
summary of major results, and (iv) a summary of major conclusions you have drawn.
Keep in mind that an abstract is a concise summary of the entire work. Try writing the abstract
last, after the first draft of the remainder of the thesis is complete.]
[Type the introduction to the thesis here. The introduction should introduce the reader to the
field of study, including any information one must know to understand the significance of the
problem being examined. Assume your reader has an undergraduate education in biology, but
no specific training in your field of study.
Results of previous studies should be referenced with appropriate citations; see the
LITERATURE C ITED section for instructions. References should be made as follows:
The first portion of this sentence includes two references (1, 3), while the second portions
contains a single reference (2). Note that citations are parenthetical using bibliography
numbers. Do not use Author-Year citations; do not use superscripts. See the LITERATURE C ITED
section for instructions for using reference managers.
The contributions of previous members of the mentor’s laboratory that are salient to this project
can be included. The problem being examined, and the method to address this problem,
should be stated briefly. Do not include a summary of the results or conclusions.]
MATERIALS AND METHODS
[Organize your methods into separate sections, each with a logical title. Consult recent papers
from your mentor’s laboratory for (a) what to report, (b) what not to report, and (c) how to
organize the different techniques and materials you employed.
Include a description of all organisms, special reagents, special equipment or software. For
extensive lists of materials, use a Table.
As a general rule, if the methods have been published, cite that paper and do not describe the
method in detail. For example: Northern blotting was performed as described (4). Original
methods should be described briefly, but in sufficient detail so that the procedure can be
[Start new sections under separate headings. Retain the line space between sections. Copy
and paste the Heading and Body templates, retaining line spacing, to add additional results
sections. There is paragraph formatting applied, so do not type in text de novo.]
[As above, organize your results into separate sections, each with a logical title. Enter the
results for the first section below this heading; use separate paragraphs as needed. Tables
and figures should each be numbered and provided in their appropriate sections below.
The first set of results reported is not necessarily the first set of data you collected. You should
organize the results so that the reader is led logically from the problem described in the
INTRODUCTION, through a series of results that address the question of interest.]
[Enter the results for the next section below this heading. Retain the line space between
[Copy and paste the Heading and Body templates, retaining line spacing, to add additional
results sections. There is paragraph formatting applied, so do not type in text de novo.]
[Organize your Discussion into separate sections as well. The discussion should not reiterate
the results described above. Rather, this section should include interpretations and
extrapolations of the primary data, synthesis of the results of many experiments, caveats of
those interpretations, and any greater significance of the R ESULTS.]
[Organize your Discussion into separate sections as well.]
[The penultimate section should include a description of what line of experiments naturally
follow, based on the results and discussion presented herein. This section should not merely
recite particular experiments, but rather should focus on new ideas.]
[The final section should include a brief set of conclusions one can draw from this research. Do
not simply reiterate your major results. Synthesize you research experience and present a
summary for a broad audience.]
[You must acknowledge anyone who performed any experiments described in the Results
sections, specifying who performed which experiments. You should acknowledge anyone who
provided materials or assistance. You may acknowledge individuals for helpful discussions or
guidance, or for providing comments on previous versions of this documents. You need not
acknowledge friends or relatives who did not contribute directly to the work described here.
Acknowledgments in a written document are not necessarily the same as those mentioned in
an oral presentation.]
[The reference list should be entered here. References should be inserted using a reference or
citation manger, such as ProCite or EndNote. When using these programs, format the
bibliography using the Journal of Bacteriology template.
For those without access to a reference manager, salient features include:
Bibliography should be presented in alphabetical order; each reference is numbered.
Citations within text are parenthetical using the citation number.
An example, is included here:
1. [Last Name, I., I.I. Last Name, and I.I. Last Name]. [Year]. [Journal article title]. [Journal]
2. [Last Name, I., I.I. Last Name, and I.I. Last Name]. [Year]. [Book chapter title], p.
[Pages]. In [I.I. Editor Last Name, and I. Editor] (ed.) [Book Title]. [Publisher], [City].
3. [Last Name, I., I.I. Last Name, and I.I. Last Name]. [Year]. [Journal article title]. [Journal]
Table #. [Enter a 1-line description of the table here as 12-point plain text. Tables do not
require extensive legends.]
[Enter the table here. Use horizontal rules to separate the column labels from the data. Do not
use vertical rules between columns. If footnotes are necessary to describe columns, use lower-
case letters. Separate data from footnotes using a horizontal rule. Tables may exc eed one
page in length.
For additional tables, copy this template. Begin each table on a separate page using a hard
page break. Number the tables consecutively, beginning with 1. Delete this page if no tables
are included. ]
Figure #. [Type the figure legend here as 12-point plain text. Do not interpret the data, but do
provide an explanation as to what the reader sees.]
[Paste the figure here as a GIF, JPG or PNG. Do not paste PowerPoint slides, EPS, TIFF,
PDF, PHP or files created in drawing or imaging software. If you have physical photographs,
leave this space blank and include the photo in your hard copy. The image and legend
together should not exceed 1 page in size.
For additional figures, copy this template. Begin each figure on a separate page using a hard
page break. Number the figures consecutively, beginning with 1. Delete this page if no figures