National Collegiate Honors Council


Date of this Version



Published in Honors in Practice, Volume 6. Copyright 2010 National Collegiate Honors Council


The lead essay in this issue of Honors in Practice is one that most readers will want to keep close at hand. At the behest of the NCHC Publications Board, Emily C. Walshe of Long Island University, C. W. Post Campus, has contributed “Conducting Research in Honors,” a set of clear, detailed, step-by-step instructions on how to do research in honors. While some readers will be familiar with this material already and others will struggle to keep up, the majority will find in this essay an invaluable tool and resource for doing research in general and honors research in particular. So go ahead and make room among the essential references on your bookshelf for this issue of HIP.

While Walshe’s essay is targeted primarily at faculty in honors, the next three essays address particular issues related to student research. Nathan Hilberg, the faculty advisor for the Pittsburgh Undergraduate Review, answers the question “Is Originality an Appropriate Requirement for Undergraduate Publication?” He argues that, in evaluating undergraduate work and awarding institutional support, we need to distinguish between originality and “independent scholarly accomplishment.” This distinction, he writes, goes beyond semantics and influences important decisions about students and the work they do, with originality being an invalid and inappropriate criterion for evaluating undergraduate research.

The other two essays that focus on student research provide suggestions about helping honors students complete their theses successfully. In “Individual Achievement in an Honors Research Community: Teaching Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development,” Kaitlin A. Briggs of the University of Southern Maine describes her strategies for developing a research community in her honors thesis workshop. Basing her ideas on the work of Lev Vygotsky, she contends that individual progress is necessarily rooted in the multiple perspectives of communal discourse. She both describes and models a process that prepares students to move forward from a research community to a successful honors thesis.