In Australia a Bachelor of Science is a three year degree. Students have the option of doing an additional year, and being awarded an Honours degree. This is necessary to do a Ph.D. and may help to get into some government jobs.
The honours year is roughly half course work and half a research project leading to a thesis.
The thesis is a bit like a mini Masters degree in other countries.
The thesis is meant to involve original research. For the best students their results may be part of a publication. The thesis is typically 40-80 pages.
I believe that Princeton is unusual among US universities in requiring ALL their students to complete a senior thesis.
Now I turn to the thesis.
First, students don’t actually know much science or have much real research experience. Although there are now a host of summer scholarship schemes and other opportunities for working in research groups.
Second, the greatest challenge is that there is a fixed deadline for submission of the thesis.
This is quite unlike a Masters or Ph.D where people tend to submit when they “have enough results”. I realise that funding running out or starting a new job sometimes plays a role in when students submit.
Unfortunately, it often seems that just when a student starts to get some useful results, or worst they just appear on the horizon, the thesis deadline is looming. Further stress is created by impending final exams!
Students can also put a lot of pressure on themselves, because getting a good grade for the thesis may influence their future options, particularly if they want to do a Ph.D.
So what should students (and advisors) do to maintain sanity and produce a quality thesis?
Don't wait until the last minute to start writing.
Too many students do this in the hope they are going to finally get their experiment or calculation to work and then slap together a thesis at the last minute, sometimes pulling “all nighters”.
Face your perfectionism.
You are not going to write the best thesis ever.
Look at copies of theses from previous years.
You may have higher expectations than your examiners.
Know what is expected or hoped for.
The presentation of the thesis is as important as any new scientific content.
Examiners enjoy learning something new.
Again, start writing early.
Don’t wait until you get your results.
Introduction. Literature review. Clear description of the project and its goals.
Methods. Polish what you have. This can all be done sooner than later.
Watch your mental health.