Spanish Democracy and Minority Rights: The Struggle Between Centrality and Diversity
by Clara Fisher
International Affairs Program, 2010
Thesis Advisor: Professor Ilan Peleg
Q: When did you start thinking about your thesis?
A: I'd been considering doing a thesis for several years, but I committed to it and chose a topic during senior week before my senior year.
Q: How did you start tackling your thesis project at the very beginning?
A: I began by talking to several professors about my topic and they recommended books. I spent the summer reading and outlining these books and building a bibliography. Most of my research could be done by looking at the references list in other publications.
Q: Did your advisor explain the structure of a thesis project to you?
A: He gave me a bare bones outline of what would happen, and then explained steps as we came to them.
Q: Did you have to do a literature review? Had you ever done one before?
Q: Do you remember receiving correspondence from the library about your honors thesis?
A: Yes, probably in June of last summer.
Q: What did you find most challenging about your thesis project?
A: The time commitment is challenging, as well as keeping up motivation when it seems so far away. Communication with my advisor was also difficult at times. I actually began with two advisors, but had to just choose one when the communication among the three of us began to break down. I also had a few computer issues. Backing up work is essential! If I had not had my chapters backed up, I could have lost my entire thesis at one point.
Q: What did you find most rewarding about your thesis project?
A: I enjoyed the actual process of writing the thesis, and having a complete work that defended something that was my idea.
Q: What assistance did your advisor/department offer you throughout the course of the year?
A: My advisor was officially part of the Gov/Law department, even though my thesis was in International Affairs. We would meet about twice a month to go over my progress and answer any questions I had. He helped me set deadlines and pushed me to meet them, as well as guided the direction of my project.
Q: Did you meet with librarians in the course of conducting your research? How many times and at what stages of your research?
A: I usually went to the reference desk when I ran into research problems that I could not solve on my own. A few times I went for general research, in the early stages of outlining a chapter, and twice I went when I was looking for a citation of a document that I was having trouble finding.
Q: What other kind of support did you rely on throughout the year to accomplish your thesis (IT, parents, friends, etc.)?
A: My friends and roommates mostly. I also heavily relied on Skillman Cafe to keep me caffeinated. However, my advisor was my most important support, as most of my friends did not have the time to read a document that was as long as mine.
Q: Were you able to get access to all of the research materials you wanted for your project?
A: For the most part. There were one or two questions I would have liked to explore further, but could not find the proper research in time.
Q: Would you do anything differently if you went through the process again?
A: My advisor had me start writing very quickly, before I was able to complete all of my research. While this made second semester easier because I had half of the thesis already written, it was problematic when the library did not have the resources I needed. Since I was researching and writing simultaneously, I had trouble getting Interlibrary Loan books in time to complete my chapters on deadline.
Q: What advice would you offer other honors thesis students, especially in your department?
A: Start early and be consistent. It is essential to set deadlines and force yourself to meet them. You want to be drafted as early as possible, or the last few weeks of school will be very difficult. It also helps to divide the project into doable steps. Instead of being overwhelmed by the idea of writing a thesis, treat it like regular classwork, where there is a different item to complete every week.