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Undergraduate Program

Research: Directed Research

For Directed Research, you investigate a topic through field and/or library research and write an extended paper (approx. 30-40 pages). You take this as a one-semester, one-credit course. Topics can develop from field research you conducted during a Public Anthropology seminar, during Study Abroad, or during summer research. Alternatively, you can develop a topic from one that attracted you during a regular Anthropology course, and you can pursue it through library research alone. Examples of past topics include a comparison of medical and patient understandings of Muscular Sclerosis through an ethnography of patient-led MS support groups, and an analysis of gendered representations of "nature" and "culture" in the Body Shop.

You should have some previous experience of the topic you select, for example by having taken a course related to your topic. It is also preferable for your advisor to have some expertise relating to your topic.

Here is the timetable you should follow for your Directed Research:

During the previous semester

  • Identify your general topic.
  • Select a Directed Research advisor in Anthropology. This can be any Anthropology faculty member, and need not be your major advisor.
  • Begin to compile (and read through) a list of readings that you and your advisor have identified.
  • Identify a specific Directed Research topic
  • Register for Anthropology 197

If you plan to conduct summer field research

  • Research funding sources. Such sources at Tufts include the Dean's Research Fund, Citizenship and Public Service, and (for research abroad) the Borghesani Memorial Prize.
  • With your advisor's guidance, begin to identify your methods. What will you be doing, and where? To whom will you speak? What kinds of questions will you ask? Which activities will you observe? In which activities will you engage as a participant?
  • With the guidance of your advisor, write proposals for funding and submit them by the appropriate deadlines.
  • With the guidance and feedback of your advisor, write your Research Protocol and Informed Consent Forms for Tufts' Institutional Review Board (IRB) for research on human subjects. For the IRB Research Protocol Form, write a more detailed description of your thesis topic and methods, identifying any ways in which these could potentially harm your informants, and identifying protections that you will put in place to minimize any such harm.
  • When your primary advisor has approved your protocol and consent forms, submit them by the IRB's March deadline.

During your Directed Research semester

  • Complete your research.
  • Begin organizing and outlining the chapters and sub-sections of your paper.
  • Begin your writing
  • Meet periodically (at least every two weeks) with your Directed Research advisor.
  • Give a complete first draft to your Directed Research advisor.
  • Submit your final draft by the date agreed with your Directed Research Advisor.