Senior Project Paper Guidelines


A paper should ask questions, and strive to answer them. This seems simple, but this can help lead you out of the woods. When you are writing and researching, ask yourself, how does this pertain to my thesis? Does my thesis need to change? If you don't have at least a general understanding of what your thesis is you won't be able to answer this question.


You want to have some variety in the sources you site. This can mean variety in style of writing as well as topics. It is fine to have some fiction, if that is appropriate to your project but if everything is fiction, that will be a problem. You DO have to actually go to the library. It's one of those things you'll be able to tell your grandkids about!

Keep notes as you read! It's easy to think you won't forget, but you will. You don't want to spend your last weeks trying to hunt down a quote from something you read months ago. These notes should include all the info you will need for the bibliography so you don't have to hunt it down later. Create some kind of structure for yourself that you will actually USE, and stick to it, however, don't write down everything you read, you'll bog yourself way down. Be careful - quoting without quotes and citations is plagiarism. :(

Think about keeping notes on cards, instead of in a book or on a confuser. Cards let you rearrange your ideas and draw connections in ways you might not anticipate going in.

How to start the building a bibliography

Start by making a list of keywords that describe your project and your field

This should include:

Start doing searches in the library database around these keywords to find texts. If the book is on the stacks spend a while there, sometimes the book you think you want is not as interesting as the book next to it.
Use the interlibrary loan!
When you get a book skim it first. Is it worth your time? Check the bibliography for related books and the index for more keywords.

Bibliography Structure

This site has good concise instructions on how to structure your bibliography. . If you want to buy a copy of the MLA (Modern Language Association) handbook I won't stop you.
Under no circumstances should you use some taudry online site to generate your citations. I know I would never do such a thing.
For example, here's how it should look if the book has one author or editor.

Bell, Stewart. The Martyr's Oath: The Apprenticeship of a Homegrown Terrorist.
Mississauga, ON: Wiley, 2005.


It's best to break your paper down into manageable chunks.

  1. General concept, objective or problem to solve
  2. Context (related projects, ideas and issues; background history; inspiration)
  3. Project description (physical and technical)
  4. Production process (details, discovery, change, conclusions)
What order and how (style) is to be determined by you. In the fall semester, you will research extensively to develop number 1 and 2. By the end of the semester you will write the first ten pages of your thesis that focuses primarily on 1 and 2. In the spring you will finish your written thesis, including 3 and 4.


1. General concept, objective and/or problem to solve:

“The goal of this research and creative activity is to create an interactive dramatic experience in immersive virtual reality.” (Agents in Love, p. 1)

“My starting place was simple curiosity: What do 100,000 people chatting on the Internet sound like?” (Listening Post, p. 1)

“It aims at making links between feminist approaches to the representation of the female body as well as feminist psychoanalytical theory…”. (Becoming Balthus, p. 2)

2. Context - related projects, ideas, issues and inspiration.

“Balthus is an artist who has generated ample controversy as well as adoration.” (Becoming Balthus, p. 1)

“Emerging media practitioners of this latter definition have been fundamentally interested in exploring the relationship of the arcane codes of scientific communication to a broader cultural language. Thcourse one of many culturally created discourses...” (Vanouse, p.2)

3. Project description (physical and technical):

“Relative Velocity Inscription Device is a live scientific experiment using the DNA of my own multi-racial family of Jamaican descent that explores the relationship between early 20th Century Eugenics and late 20th Century Human Genomics. The experiment takes the form of an interactive, multi - media installation, containing a computer-regulated, biologicalfamily members' DNA samples slowly travel.” (Vanouse, p.4)

4. Production process (details, discovery, change):

“In building VR drama we are concerned to minimize waste. We don’t want to build a lot of scenes that the user never visits…”. (Agents in Love, p. 5)

General Writing tips

Sample page from the start of a Senior Paper

If heaven exists, it has awarded us with the gift of music. And with that, humans made pop music. It was magic. Pop music, it is something that "stays inside you" (Acconci, 918). It's a "song that you can't get out of your head"(Acconi, 918). Artist and poet, Vito Acconci argues that pop music can be a "new model" for public art.

The magic is in the immediacy of this medium that is pop music. It is something that can be listened to; it is something that can be made. This is a possible truth of pop music. It exists, but sometimes it is not easy to find. Even though it can be found by anyone with reason alone, regardless of any particular place or agreement, not unlike John Locke's Law of Nature. There is a truth to music.

Our current capitalist society has created pop music as one way towards universal truth. The truth is in its essence of appeal to just about anyone. Pop music is relatable. You can't really touch it, but you can feel it.

So pop music is a medium with these hidden powers. And the language of pop isn't that hard to learn. It is built into every human because it is constantly surrounding us. Pop music and all music has the power to infiltrate.

Couldn't pop music be hijacked? Can't you use pop music? Couldn't someone use the medium of pop to communicate this magical truth? It seems like somewhere, someplace, people got caught up on the right way to do music, in another words, what is going to sell the most; but what about new ways to make music? Where else can music go? What about the truth of it all?