Honors

Honors Advisor: Dr. Elena Festa

The Honors Program in any of the concentrations within the CLPS Department gives undergraduates a special opportunity to carry out a research project under the direction of a faculty member. Participation in the program allows students to develop an understanding of research and acquire research skills and background. We strongly encourage all A.B. and Sc.B concentrators to consider the Honors Program. 

Admission to the Honors Program

Prerequisites for students wishing to be admitted to the honors program: Honors candidates in Cognitive Science, Cognitive Neuroscience, and Psychology must have completed the statistics requirement (e.g., CLPS 0900 or equivalent) and at least one lab course (1900 is preferred, but other lab courses can be appropriate with permission of the honors advisor). Candidates in Linguistics must have completed the core course requirement. Candidates in Behavioral Decision Sciences must speak with the concentration advisor.

Declaration due date: Applications to the honors program are due no later than Friday, September 11, 2020 (5pm) for students graduating in May 2021. For students graduating in December 2021, please see the form below for the appropriate dates. Honors students in Cognitive Science, Cognitive Neuroscience, and Psychology must take either two semesters of CLPS 1980 or (CLPS 1980 and CLPS1970) in conjunction with their honors' thesis research each term during this academic year. Honors students in Behavioral Decision Sciences must take CLPS1960 in the Fall semester and CLPS1980 in the Spring semester. Linguistics honors students must take at least one independent study course (CLPS 1970 or CLPS 1980) during this academic year. Each prospective honors student should submit to their Concentration Advisor (for Linguistics) or to the Honors Advisor (for Behavioral Decision Sciences, Cognitive Neuroscience, Cognitive Science, or Psychology) a declaration of honors form which includes: (a) research topic/project title, (b) faculty advisor, (c) information on the plan for completing the project, and (d) the signature of the faculty advisor.

Program Requirements

  • The student conducts a year-long independent project during the student's 7th and 8th semesters, supervised by a faculty sponsor. In their 7th and 8th semesters, honors students in Cognitive Neuroscience, Cognitive Science, and Psychology must normally take two semesters of directed research (CLPS 1980) or (CLPS 1970 and CLPS 1980). Behavioral Decision Sciences must take CLPS1960 and CLPS1980. Linguistics honors students must take at least one independent study course (CLPS 1970 or CLPS 1980).
  • The research project must be completed to the satisfaction of the student’s faculty sponsor and to a committee of faculty in the CLPS department. The student must present a written thesis describing the research project. The thesis must be written independently by the student; theses written by more than one student are not acceptable. The thesis is read and signed by the faculty sponsor and then, following the schedule outlined below, is submitted for review to the appropriate CLPS Undergraduate Committee.
  • Each honors candidate will give a presentation to members of the CLPS department at a time scheduled in their eighth semester. Presentations are also open to the public. The presentation gives the student an opportunity to describe the Honors Research Project, and allows the department faculty the opportunity to learn about the research being conducted by undergraduates within the Department and to assess the accomplishments of each candidate. The student is expected to answer questions about the research.
  • For students in Cognitive Neuroscience, Cognitive Science and Psychology, prior to the last day of exams of the 7th semester each honors student must meet with the honors advisor and the concentration advisor in the relevant program to discuss her/his progress on the project. Note: For AY 2020-21, students will be sent a questionnaire, in lieu of an in-person meeting. Students can request an in-person (or virtual) meeting.

The decision to conduct an independent research project is a significant commitment on the part of both the student and the sponsor. Be prepared to devote from 10-20 hrs/wk to your independent research project. Because each professor can advise only a limited number of honors students each year, there can be more students interested in conducting research than there are openings with advisors. Thus, it is important to establish a relationship with potential sponsors by your 6th semester, usually the semester before you would like to begin your project, if not sooner. Additionally, depending on the field, you may want to begin your research in the sixth semester or the summer before the seventh semester. In this case, you should consult with a potential sponsor in the fifth semester.

Timetable and Due Dates for Honors Research Projects, 2020-2021

Because the demands of each Honors project may vary, each student should work out a specific schedule for the completion of the project with her or his sponsor. A draft copy of the thesis should be submitted to the faculty advisor well before the Honors Exams (please arrange for an appropriate date). Two final BOUND copies must be submitted to the faculty sponsor and CLPS department BEFORE 12:00 noon, Friday, April 16, 2021. Deliver one thesis to Michele Barchi in room 139, Metcalf Research Building, and the other to your faculty sponsor. Also, send an electronic copy to [email protected], to your faculty advisor, and to the Honors advisor. The electronic copy must be submitted by the deadline to be considered for honors. 

Deadlines for students graduating in May 2021 are:

Fri. Sept. 11, 2020
Deadline to submit form of declaration

Before Dec. 4, 2020
In November, students will be emailed a questionnaire to fill out detailing their experiences with the honors program so far. 

Late March/Early April, 2021
Honors Presentations

March 26, 2021 by 5pm
Submit final, BOUND thesis to CLPS department and faculty advisor

Please address further questions to your faculty advisor and the honors advisor (including an appropriate date for submitting your draft thesis before the oral exams).

Finding a Sponsor

Sponsors for Honors thesis research should be faculty at the rank of Professor, Associate Professor, Assistant Professor, Senior Lecturer or Lecturer, whose primary appointment at Brown is in the Department of Cognitive, Linguistic and Psychological Sciences. Faculty from other departments, and those who hold Research or Visiting appointments in the CLPS department may also be able to serve as sponsors, if approved by the Departmental Undergraduate Curriculum Committee (DUCC). Please contact the honors advisor as quickly as possible if you would like a sponsor who is not in the CLPS department. Please note that this can be a lengthy process and there is no guarantee that individuals outside of the CLPS department will be accepted. Please also note that permission must be obtained from the Honors Advisor if the sponsor is on sabbatical or leave during the thesis experience.

Generally, it is best to call or email a faculty member and make an appointment to discuss the possibility of working with her/him for a thesis. Any questions concerning the appropriateness of research for Honors should be addressed to the Honors Advisor.

Specifics to the Honors Program for 2020-2021

Registered Reports as an alternative to a Standard Thesis. Safe practices for research specify that some research groups will be able to participate in normal research activities while others will not be able to do so. When a research group is able to collect data or engage in their scientific practice remotely, we propose that the status quo of a normal thesis is a possibility. For students in research groups who are concerned about completing a standard thesis or for students in research groups not able to take a “business as usual” approach, we will allow students to write a Registered Report as their written thesis. 

For students unfamiliar with Registered Reports, they are a relatively new format for many peer-reviewed journals. Registered reports require the author to conceptualize their study prior to data collection. Authors must describe the rationale for their study, the methods they will use, and the analyses they will conduct prior to collecting and data. The format is designed to minimize bias in science while also allowing authors to report unregistered (exploratory) analyses and unexpected findings after data are collected. Critically, the report is peer-reviewed prior to data collection, and data collection should only commence after the peer-review process. More information and guidelines for registered reports can be found here.

For AY2020-2021, students may write a registered report or a standard thesis. Registered reports for journals tend to be short (less than 4000 words). The expectation for the honors program is that the report is significantly longer. The student is expected to complete a full literature review, just like in a standard thesis, as well as provide a description of the materials, apparatus (if relevant), procedure, proposed sample, coding schemes (if relevant), and proposed hypothetical analyses. Students will also be asked to write a discussion about how potential patterns of data relate to hypotheses they might have about the proposed study or studies. Exploratory analyses are acceptable, as long as they are labeled as such, and described along with the implication of proposed results for the student’s hypotheses.

Note that a Registered Report has much of the same content as a standard thesis. What it does not have is actual collected data or analyses. If a student is able to collect such data (using resources such as mTURK, childrenhelpingscience.org, or CHILDES) then a standard thesis with data collection and analysis can be conducted. This is left to the discretion of the student and research advisor working together.

Please be aware that the standard for a written thesis is anywhere between 30-60 pages of manuscript text (not including figures, tables, references, acknowledgments, etc.), and this standard will be similar for a registered report. 

Poster session in lieu of presentations. Instead of a 20-minute talk followed by questions, students will create posters, which can be presented in person (if possible) or virtually (if necessary). This will also involve students creating a 2-minute description of their research. This would be presented in a live poster session or through Loom (or other video recording software), which could be played as the poster is displayed virtually.

Application Form

The Declaration of Honors in CLPS Application form is available as a downloadable Word document.

For Students Graduating in December 2021

The Declaration of Honors for December 2021 has all of the relevant deadlines.