The undergraduate program in Anthropology is designed to give all concentrators a rounded and common understanding of anthropological theory and method, as well as the opportunity to sample a range of special topics. The program is designed to serve both students who are considering graduate work in anthropology and those who are seeking an interesting and flexible major to anchor their Princeton education.
Fieldwork / Study Abroad
Some anthropology majors have chosen to spend the summer before their senior year, or a semester in their junior or senior year, away from Princeton doing field research and/or studying abroad. We encourage this, but fieldwork and/or study abroad are neither required nor expected. Still, these are unique opportunities and a refreshing change from the laboratory or library research more commonly part of college work. In their roles as advisers for students' independent work, the Anthropology Department faculty are available to help students develop field projects or plan for study abroad. The Anthropology Department has limited funds, available on competitive basis, for rising seniors, for summer field research toward the senior thesis. Additional funding is available from the Office of the Dean of the College and other sources. Students should consult the Student Activities Funding Engine for details and information about funding.
Each anthropology major has one faculty adviser for the junior paper and another faculty adviser for the senior thesis. Normally, junior and senior advisers are different individuals – the goal being mutual engagement as broad as possible between students and faculty. Any faculty member has the expertise to advise any student, but the Anthropology Department makes every effort to match advisers with students based on the students’ interests and the faculty members’ areas of specialization. Advisers help students develop and refine their research topics, find relevant literature, conceptualize their approach, and improve their written expression. Advisers also evaluate their advisees’ work. Every advising relationship is different -- for example, some students prefer structured deadlines to motivate their work; others prefer more independence and flexibility. In all cases, independent work demands focus, initiative, organization, and good communication with one’s adviser. It is each student’s responsibility to schedule advising meetings and to meet all departmental benchmarks on time (see below).
Independent Work in General
In doing independent work as an anthropology major, a student will learn to practice distinctively anthropological methods of research and writing. Independent work in anthropology may involve field research and archival research as well as library, laboratory, and museum research. Students are encouraged to decide which methodological approaches work best to gather the evidence they need to address their research questions. Junior papers and senior theses are opportunities for students to develop their individual interests in depth outside regular course work, building on what they have learned about anthropological approaches. As independent projects develop, students will encounter and may produce complex qualitative and/or quantitative data. They will explore connections between theory and evidence, examining how beliefs and biases affect the questions anthropologists ask, the data they collect, and their interpretations. Students will work through key ideas in anthropology such as interpretation, reflexivity, experience, objectivity and subjectivity, participant-observation, translation, and comparison. They will develop a critical perspective on a body of anthropological literature, and argue for a point of view using primary data as well as secondary sources. The ultimate goal of independent work in anthropology is to make a contribution to scholarship and debates in the field. This contribution can come in the form of original ethnographic or other field/lab research, the comparison and synthesis of data from multiple sources, and the development or critique of important anthropological concepts, among other possibilities.
Anthropology Department concentrators write one junior paper (JP) and a senior thesis; as with departmental courses, students need to earn a grade of C or better for this work to count towards the major. Specific due dates in the current academic year are posted each September for juniors and for seniors on the Blackboard organization for Anthropology_Concentrators.
Independent Work for Juniors
Beginning in the fall of 2013, the Anthropology Department will offer a junior seminar to support students’ independent work toward the Junior Paper, or JP. The junior seminar is ungraded but required of all juniors in the major (in residence). It will run concurrently with ANT 300 and 301 as a weekly series of "labs" coordinated with course themes, but the seminar is designed to support students whether or not they are enrolled in those courses. (ANT 300 and 301 are open to all Princeton undergraduates, but the junior seminar workshops are open only to anthropology majors). The workshops are designed to help students formulate research problems, relate their core questions to anthropological literatures, and support their writing process throughout the year. Each JP workshop group will be small, so as to spark productive synergies and foster mutual support.
Although much of the development and writing of JPs will take place in the junior seminar, all junior anthropology majors will also have their own faculty advisers. Faculty will be directly involved in the preparation of JPs, especially as students develop their topics and the research dimension of the work advances.
Junior Papers are somewhat longer than term papers. Whereas anthropology term papers are usually 10-20 pages in length, JPs are expected to be 25-35 pages (excluding notes, bibliography, tables, illustrations, and appendices) – approximately the length of a published journal article. Sub-headings may be used, as appropriate, but JPs normally do not have multiple chapters.
Students should consult anthropology journals (like American Anthropologist) for guidance on the proper style of footnotes, citations, and references. Note that the citation of sources is not usually placed in footnotes in anthropological journal articles, but rather placed parenthetically in the text itself; footnotes are reserved for clarifications and other asides. For more detailed guidelines, refer to the American Anthropologist Association (AAA) Style Guide.
To Students: Please note that a calendar with specific dates is posted at the beginning of each academic year in the Blackboard organization for Anthropology_Concentrators. The timeline below indicates a standard but general schedule.
last week of September: JP advisers and junior seminar labs are assigned. Meet with your adviser as soon as possible to discuss ideas for your JP topic, mutual expectations, preferred modes of communication, and the nature and frequency of advising meetings. The junior seminar leader is also available for consultation. Schedule a consultation with the Firestone reference librarian now or later in the semester, after you have settled on a genral topic for your JP. Begin reading literature relevant to your topic.
last week of October: Submit JP Progress Report. This brief form asks you to indicate the extent to which you have attended the junior seminar, met with your adviser, formulated your general topic into a more specific theme, prepared a preliminary annotated bibliography, and informed yourself about upcoming departmental benchmarks for the JP.
November-December: Continue to prepare for the JP in consultation with your adviser and junior seminar group. Preparation should include reading widely, workshopping your topic into proposal form with your junior seminar group, and continuing to develop your bibliography in annotated form.
first week of January: Submit Junior Paper proposal to your adviser and the Anthropology Department office. The proposal should be a 3-5 pp statement of your research goals – a sketch of your topic, its context in relation to anthropological literature, and your own motivation. Include an annotated bibliography of your main sources and an outline of the entire JP, as you envision it now, including indication of your progress to date.
January-early February: Get feedback from your adviser on your proposal and develop a plan together for benchmarks, future meetings, and review procedures.
February-March: Continue to participate in the junior seminar as your draft your JP, and workshop sections of it with your group. Over the course of February-March, you will write a full draft of your JP. Begin to write early and make use of resources - the Writing Center, self-initiated peer reviews, and especially your junior seminar group. Consult with your junior seminar leader and the reference librarian as needed.
last week of March: Submit the first draft of your Junior Paper to your adviser. Your draft may include sections that are still in outline form, but it should be substantial enough for your adviser to review and make recommendations. Continue to participate in the junior seminar, as your group is available for workshopping drafts. Schedule a meeting with your adviser to take place as soon as possible after you turn in your draft, to review your progress and plan next steps.
deadline, mid-April: Submit a hard copy and email copy of the final Junior Paper to the Anthropology Department office. At this point, the junior seminar shifts to preliminary preparations for the senior thesis.
Independent Work for Seniors
Anthropology seniors are each assigned a thesis adviser with whom they ought to consult regularly all year. Additionally, students are welcome to consult any faculty member (within or outside anthropology) in developing their research. Anthropology senior theses have two readers/graders: the first reader is the thesis adviser, a faculty member in the Anthropology Department or associated faculty of the Anthropology Department; second readers may be selected from within or outside the Anthropology Department. The Department particularly encourages students who are writing their senior thesis in conjunction with their earning of certificates in Programs to seek their second reader from their Program with the approval of the Anthropology departmental representative.
Senior Thesis Writing Group
To support seniors in writing their theses, the Department offers a Senior Thesis Writing Group, led by an advanced graduate student at the dissertation-writing stage of the Ph.D. program in anthropology. Students often treat writing as if it were a solitary struggle, but sharing work with friends, and mutually offering suggestions and support, can really make a difference. The Senior Thesis Writing Group provides a space to think and work together, and to become more reflexive about one’s writing process. The group meets regularly throughout the academic year, focusing on different aspects of thesis writing: choosing and refining a topic, conducting and interpreting research, outlining and organizing research material, and of course, writing and revising. The group leader also hosts special workshops and “boot camps” – marathon sessions of focused writing – and is available for one-on-one meetings with students. All anthropology seniors are required to attend at least one session of the group before fall break.
A senior thesis in anthropology may be based on field or other research, grounded in anthropological literature. Doing thesis research during the summer between junior and senior years is very helpful but not required for anthropology majors. Individual situations vary. For example, one student might plan the thesis during the spring of junior year and become fully engaged in thesis research during the summer; another might choose to spend the summer engaged in other endeavors, but make plans during the spring to conduct research at the end of the summer or upon return to campus in the fall. During the spring term of the junior year, their JP advisers are available to help students plan next steps. If a student plans to begin research after the summer, or has reason to continue research that was initiated during the summer, limited fieldwork may be conducted during the fall term, winter break, or intersession.
Once a student has ideas for a thesis topic, the best way to begin is to discuss those ideas with his/her JP adviser, although students are also welcome to consult other faculty members as appropriate to the specific project. A student interested in conducting research during the summer between junior and senior years should begin planning by the start of the spring semester. Normally, ANT 301 is required as preparation for field research. Fieldwork-based thesis research requires IRB approval. There are several types of application; a faculty adviser or IRB staff should be consulted to determine what kind of IRB application to submit. Funding applications will require written support from a faculty member, normally the student’s JP adviser. The timing of summer research planning is partly determined by the deadlines to apply for funding (applicable to both library and field-based research), as well as the review cycle at the IRB for research involving human subjects (applicable to fieldwork only).
The Student Activities Funding Engine (SAFE) is a student portal to all University funding opportunities, including support for senior thesis research offered by departments, programs, and centers on campus. One of the funding opportunities in SAFE is the Anthropology Department’s “field-based senior thesis research grant program,” from which awards are made to anthropology majors to conduct field research. The Anthropology Department’s grant program is intended primarily as support for thesis research conducted during the summer, but students may also apply in the spring for Department funding for thesis research planned to begin during the fall semester. For the Anthropology Department’s grant program, there is only one application cycle each year (in the spring). Normally, students should have taken ANT 301 prior to the proposed start date of the research, and should plan adequate time to complete the research in satisfactory way (usually a minimum of four weeks, and possibly longer, depending on the project). Additional information will be available when each new funding cycle is announced.
Structure and Format
Anthropology theses are usually multi-part or multi-chapter projects. While length varies greatly, a typical thesis might be between 70-120 double-spaced pages (excluding notes, references, illustrations, tables, and appendices) and contain three or four main sections.
Students should consult anthropology journals (like American Anthropologist) for guidance on the proper style of footnotes, citations, and bibliographies. Note that the citation of sources is not usually placed in footnotes in anthropological journal articles, but rather placed parenthetically in the text itself; footnotes are reserved for clarifications and other asides. For more detailed guidelines, refer to the American Anthropological Association (AAA) Style Guide.
Senior Thesis Timeline
To Students: Please note that a calendar with specific dates is distributed at the beginning of each academic year in the Blackboard organization for Anthropology_Concentrators. The timeline below indicates a standard but general schedule.
- mid-September: Thesis advisers are assigned. Meet with your adviser as soon as possible to discuss your thesis, mutual expectations, preferred modes of communication, and the nature and frequency of advising meetings. Schedule a consultation with the Firestone reference librarian after you have met with your adviser.
- last week of October: Submit senior thesis proposal. This should be a 3-5 pp sketch that describes your proposed topic, why you have chosen it, and any research you have conducted or are planning to conduct on the topic. It should also include an initial outline and a preliminary bibliography.
- November-December: Begin writing. Consult with your thesis adviser as needed, and at least once between fall break and winter recess, even if you feel that you are making good progress independently. Begin writing as soon as possible so that you have adequate time for revising and editing. In addition to consulting with your adviser, you are strongly encouraged to use resources offered by the reference librarian, the Senior Thesis Writing Group, and The Writing Center.
- second week of January: Submit at least one thesis chapter along with an outline of the entire thesis to your adviser. Schedule a meeting with your adviser in January-early February to discuss your work.
- mid-February: Submit Senior Thesis Progress Report to the Anthropology Department office. This brief form asks you to indicate the extent to which you have met with your adviser, completed and submitted writing to your adviser, participated in the Senior Thesis Writing Group, and informed yourself about upcoming departmental benchmarks for the thesis.
- first week of March: Submit a full draft of your thesis to your adviser. Schedule an appointment to discuss it. Continue to write, revise, and edit throughout the next month.
- deadline, mid-April: Submit two hard-bound print copies of your thesis to the Anthropology Department office. A PDF copy of the thesis must also be submitted by email to the Undergraduate Program Assistant. The departmental deadline is set by the Departmental Representative. Late submissions may be subject to grade penalties.
Anthropology students are encouraged to consult their advisers honestly (and early!) about any problems they are having with their writing in courses or independent work. Independent work often introduces students to new writing challenges; this is to be expected. Senior Theses, in particular, present a special challenge since - quite apart from the demands of original research - a multi-chapter work is likely to be a new writing experience. All students are encouraged to make use of Princeton's Writing Center. For additional support, juniors have the benefit of a weekly junior seminar, and seniors have the Senior Thesis Writing Group. Both are typically led by advanced graduate students at the dissertation-writing stage of the Ph.D. program in anthropology. Students: Resist the impulse to treat writing as if it were a solitary struggle: sharing your work with your friends, mutually offering suggestions and support can really make a difference.
Some Princeton Writing Resources for Students
JP Handbook http://www.princeton.edu/writing/center/resources/JPHandbook.pdf
A general guide to the Junior Paper (Writing a J.P.: The Handbook), produced by the Princeton Writing Program, is available at the web address listed above.
The Writing Center http://www.princeton.edu/writing/center/
Many juniors and seniors find that, even though they have substantial experience with research papers, their independent work poses new writing challenges. You may always consult your JP or thesis adviser about this. In addition, you are strongly encouraged to make use of the Princeton Writing Center. Located in Lauritzen Hall, The Writing Center offers student writers free one-on-one conferences with experienced fellow writers trained to consult on assignments in any discipline. Writing Fellows can help you with any part of the writing process: brainstorming ideas, developing a thesis, structuring an argument, or revising a draft. The goal of each conference is to teach strategies that will encourage you to become an astute reader and critic of your own work. Although The Writing Center is not an editing or proofreading service, Fellows can help you learn techniques for improving sentences and checking mechanics. Writing Center conferences complement, but do not replace, the relationships you have with your teachers and advisers. To get more information or to set up an appointment, go to the web address listed above.
Academic Support at Princeton University (ASAP) http://www.princeton.edu/asap/
This website provides the most up-to-date and comprehensive list of course-specific and general academic support, including tutoring, mentoring, study halls, conferences and workshops, library assistance, and resources for independent work.
Special Note on Ethics
Ethical standards relating to scholarship (plagiarism, proper use and citation of conventional and Internet sources, and special ethical guidelines relevant to human subjects research) will be enforced on all Anthropology Department work. Students intending to do field research ( participant observation, interviewing, etc.) during the school year or during the summer—whether on or off campus—should consult their advisers and the Departmental Representative about this, as preparation for an IRB application. ANT 301 addresses research ethics as well as IRB issues (among other things); the spring semester junior seminar also addresses IRB issues (again, among other things).
Beyond ethical issues relevant to research involving human subjects, all students should read the University handbook, Rights, Rules, Responsibilities, guidelines about scholarly ethics carefully: this is your responsibility. If you have any questions about particular situations, please consult your adviser and/or the Departmental Representative.
Note to Anthropology Majors:
With regard to JPs and Theses, be aware that if you anticipate any significant overlap between course papers and these independent research papers, you need to consult both your adviser and the Departmental Representative about it. While the Anthropology Department encourages students to think cumulatively across courses and to use what they have learned in developing their independent work, independent work is meant to be just that – independent. With permission, students may build their own earlier research, or reformulate earlier learning from courses, but they may not re-use text drawn directly (or only minimally revised) from previously or concurrently submitted work. (And conversely, students may not submit portions of their junior or senior independent work for a course grade). The junior seminar associated with ANT 300 and ANT 301 has been designed to avoid these problems.
If you are considering using JP research or prior course work as the basis for your senior thesis, you must obtain approval from both your thesis adviser and your JP adviser or course instructor, as applicable. Sufficient difference between your senior thesis and your previously graded work will need to be established. If your proposed senior thesis topic appears to be a continuation of the previous work, your thesis must be adequately expansive in comparison, and written approval from advisers and/or course instructors will be required. If a student in this situation is advised by the same faculty member for the Junior Paper and the senior thesis (which happens only in rare cases), the faculty adviser will still need to write a note in the student's file, for the record. You are solely responsible for ensuring that written permissions as described above are completed and filed before you proceed with the senior thesis project as planned.
If an exception to the “single use” rule is warranted – and this is rare – the University rule for the approval process applies. Departments differ in their expectations of what comes and goes with “independence” in relation to the JP and senior thesis, so students should consult their adviser and the Departmental Representative if they need additional information or are in any doubt whatsoever.