Your submission should center on an idea, not just description or information, and, starting in your introduction, you should be clear about why and how your thesis is relevant, interesting, and useful to an audience of honors administrators, faculty, and/or staff.
Your conclusion should explore the implications of your thesis rather than simply repeating it.
Don’t forget that you need to tie your topic to honors in a specific way.
Avoid blanket assumptions that cannot be backed up with evidence (and thus are often wrong), e.g., “few community colleges have honors programs” or “few honors programs practice outcomes assessment.”
Similarly, be wary of statements like “Little has been written about”; chances are that a lot has been written about it, and you’re obliged to have done that research. Thanks to Jeff Portnoy, NCHC has made such research incredibly easy in relation to honors publications: go to http://nchc.site-ym.com/page/Publications and do a key word search on your topic. The journals and monographs are available online at
Avoid constructions like “This paper will present research on” or “We intend to show that.” Go ahead and make statements about your topic.
Avoid rhetorical questions. Make statements instead.
Avoid redundancy. Repetition for emphasis is unnecessary if you make your point well the first time.
Use active voice whenever possible. “We found that” is better than “It was found that.”
Avoid starting a sentence with a phrase like “There is” or “It is.” “There is a common belief that” can and should be “A common belief is that.”
If you use italics for emphasis or scare quotes, we will almost always remove them.
Capitalization is absurdly fraught, but “honors program” is capitalized ONLY when it is part of the official title of a program, e.g., “Washington State University Honors Program” but “the honors program at Washington State University.” Similarly, titles and disciplines are capitalized only when part of a formal title, e.g., “Anna is Associate Professor of Philosophy” but “Anna is an associate professor of philosophy.”
Generally avoid contractions, slang, clichés, and other forms of casual writing; formality is appropriate in a journal essay except in rare cases when informality is a strategic choice.
Every rule is made to be broken—but only by outstanding writers.