The most important thing is to get started working with a research group. Browse through the research opportunities listed above and find something interests you. Then contact the faculty member in charge of this research to see if they have space for you to join their group. This should be done early in your program so you can have time to choose a project that you find interesting and have time to complete this project.
This depends a lot on you, your advisor, and the project you choose. It's unrealistic to expect to complete a quality thesis in as little time as the minimum two credit hours of the 498R Senior Thesis requirement suggests. The research and writing typically take a few hundred hours (and students are often given financial support…see the student employment section). Talk in depth with your advisor to make sure you both have realistic expectations about the project.
As mentioned above you are required to take two hours of Phscs 498R to satisfy the senior thesis requirement. To sign up for Phscs 498R please see Diann in N281 ESC. She will give you a form that must be filled out and signed by your thesis adviser and the department research coordinator. Once the form is complete, return it to Diann who will give you an add slip.
All grade change forms for Phscs 498R are done by the department research coordinator (currently Dr. Hintz). This is true for both Honors and Senior Theses. The grade changes will be done as the thesis passes through the online system (http://www.physics.byu.edu/Thesis/StudentLogin.aspx).
If you choose to write an Honors Thesis, you can use that thesis to satisfy the Senior Thesis requirement. Follow the Honors Thesis policies available from the Honors Office. The Senior Thesis guide is more or less consistent with the requirements for an Honors Thesis. If you wish to use your Honors Thesis to fulfill the Senior Thesis requirement then upload the thesis into the department online system. In some ways this is a formality, but it allows us to better track all required paperwork (such as grade changes).
A senior thesis will probably be the most challenging writing that you will do as an undergraduate. A thesis is much more involved than a final paper that you may write for other classes. The physics department has developed Physics 416 specifically to help you work through the thesis-writing process. This class also fulfills the advanced writing requirement in GE. You should plan on taking this class after you have finished the bulk of your research project. The following guide gives a good summary of how to write a senior thesis:
The printed copy of your thesis will need to conform to some formatting standards (the instructions document above illustrates the correct formatting). You may write the thesis using any software you choose, but you will need to produce a correctly formatted PDF document in the end. Many students choose to use the LaTeX typesetting system because it handles equations and referencing nicely. The LaTeX resources document below provides a class file to facilitate formatting issues in LaTeX. Here are a couple of brief samples produced by the class file that illustrate the correct formating:
A short oral presentation of your completed research project is strongly encouraged. For students graduating in April this requirement is most naturally satisfied by giving a 10-minute talk at the annual College Spring Research Conference, usually held in March. Students can also arrange other times/locations with their faculty advisors and the course coordinator.
You will receive a T grade if the project is not completed during the term for which credit is received. A letter grade, which is required for graduation, will be given when the project is complete. Letter grades will be assigned by the course coordinator in consultation with your project advisor/mentor as described below.
A-, A The student has completed a quality thesis. A thesis receiving an A or A- grade will be bound by the department. The advisor is primarily responsible for deciding whether the thesis should be bound (by proposing this grade), although the Undergraduate Research Coordinator and the Department Chair must agree. The thesis reflects on the advisor's reputation. It should be something that the advisor would be proud to show to an external reviewer.
B-, B, B+ The student has produced a significant written report on his or her research that falls short of a quality thesis. (A written report does not preclude the possibility of a lower grade if the quality of the research and/or writing is poor.) This grade range indicates a completed thesis that follows appropriate formatting guidelines but is not a thesis the advisor feels should be bound by the department.
C-, C, C+ The student has documented his or her research but failed to produce a thesis. This range of grade is justified for students who, for example, participate in the Spring Research Conference and who produce meaningful (and reasonably extensive) technical notes to be passed on to other students who continue the work.
D-, D, D+ The student has been involved in meaningful research, appropriate for the number of credit hours (i.e. 15 ´ 6 hrs = 90 hrs for 2 credits). However, the student has failed to produce a written report.