ITP THESIS GUIDELINES
The goal of an ITP education, as you have probably figured out, is that you leave here with the tools to do whatever you want to do. Those tools include: knowing how to find out what you don’t know; to be ready for change, anticipate it; a willingness to experiment, fail, try again, etc; how to take an idea and make it real; to find your strengths and deepen them; to follow your passions and trust your gut.
The faculty needs to see evidence of mastery of these skills. Your thesis will be a manifestation of those qualities. For you, the thesis should be something that you really want to explore, want to make, want to see in the world. You’re going to spend 14 weeks on this singular project, do something that challenges, fascinates, plagues or delights you. Take the time to enjoy this process.
An ITP thesis is a demonstration of mastery of a particular project or problem of your design. It can take different forms—a physical prototype, a research paper—but the key is that there is a central concept, with a clear statement of purpose: in other words, 1) what it is, and 2) so what? Why are you interested in it? What need does it fulfill, what does it add to the world, a field, the literature? Your thesis does not have to be a finished product—that would be impossible in 14 weeks—but it should be a proof of concept. That is, you should show us how it could be achieved and we’d have confidence that you could.
Unlike a dissertation at a more traditionally academic program, you do not have to defend your thesis to a committee. You do have to ‘defend’ it to your thesis class and teacher! They will help you hone your idea and get it in to shape. Many people think of their thesis as a platform—something from which you could write a grant, a business plan, a conference proposal or just show as part of your portfolio. It is the one thing that you do here at ITP that’s all yours: you generate the idea, you create the path towards implementation.The ITP thesis reflects our belief that you will leave here feeling comfortable as a creator, inventor, maker and thinker. And you will also be able to express your ideas to others in a variety of ways—in writing, in model, a prototype, in conversation, in a presentation.
How to pick a topic:
- Choose something interesting, possible, and hard. Why pick something you already know that answer to? Discovery is part of the task. The trick is finding the right-sized idea. Not too big for one person to do in 14 weeks; not too small to be worth it. Look for the Goldilocks spot: just right.
- Is it relevant to ITP? As an interdisciplinary program, ITP allows for and encourages exploration in a number of areas. Choose a topic that reflects what you’ve learned here and is something that the faculty and your cohort at ITP can help you explore. Subjects that are too far from the collective experience of the institution will prevent you from getting useful feedback. And not relate to your time here.
- The single best predictor of a successful thesis is your own interest and engagement with the topic. Don’t do what you think you should. Go for something that intrigues you: make something you want to have, solve a problem that’s been gnawing at you. It’s your chance at a self-defined challenge. You don’t always get that at work or at school––seize the opportunity.
Form: The work itself can be a proof-of-concept for an idea that can take the form of a written research paper, a design brief, a video or a prototype for a larger project. It can also be a portfolio review of a collection of your works at ITP.
- A Production Thesis demonstrates creative strategies or purposeful innovations in digital media, along with the ability to document this work and its implications in written form.
- A Written Thesis proposes and defends a position based either on a practical research project and its conclusions, or on scholarly research into the nature and impact of digital media or emerging technologies.
- A Portfolio Review is a reflection and overview of your work at ITP, a demonstration of what you have learned through both successful and 'failed' projects. It is an opportunity to take one or more of the projects to a more completed ,deeper level.
Thesis is also a class and there are fulfillment requirements: attending and contributing to your thesis seminar class, development and production of your thesis, a short paper (if it’s a production thesis) that documents your process, and a 20 minute public presentation to the entire faculty and student body. All of this is described in detail below.
Fall of your second year…Right now!: Begin to develop an idea or ideas for your thesis. Use this semester to conduct preliminary research into your field of interest, to assess the feasibility of completing a proof-of-concept in 14 weeks.
Prepare a first first draft of the elements below in writing. Every one of these will be refined, edited, tossed, redone as you go through the semester. The purpose is to plant a flag in the direction you want to go—that’s the first step in making it real. It does not lock you in. No one gets anything important or interesting totally right the first time. If you do, the idea may not be thesis-worthy.
- THESIS STATEMENT (A couple of sentences) What problem are you taking on? What project are you proposing? Try to express this in one or two sentences––this will be your first stab at an ‘elevator statement’. Be as specific and clear as you can be at the time. And keep it. You will re-write this statement in increasingly specific terms as you iterate through the design of your project. It will be interesting to look back when you are finished at the difference between the two.
- PERSONAL STATEMENT (250-500 words) Why are you interested in this subject? When did your interest start, and why? What particularly fascinates you in this line of thought or type of project? What do you hope to gain from the experience?
- RESEARCH Provide at least four examples of projects, books, products, or technologies that serve as background, inspiration, irritation, or research for the Thesis.
- WORK DESCRIPTION (One paragraph to one page) What will be the actual product of your thesis ( prototype, demonstration, video, paper, etc).Describe this as specifically as possible. It will probably change as you get deeper in development. But it specifies your intention.
You might work on these elements over the winter break. Or before if you can. Talk over your idea with your advisor at advisement, the thesis area head (Nancy Hechinger), or any faculty member.
Bring a printed-out copy to the first session of the Thesis Seminar. During the first class you will present your idea, why you want to do it and get the first round of constructive feedback from your colleagues and teacher.
The Thesis Seminar, either a 2-point or a four-point course in the final ITP semester,guides you in the development, writing and presentation of your thesis. But it is not your thesis. The purpose of the course is to help you finish your thesis. It provides a framework—that can be used beyond ITP––for developing an idea from concept through production. It is a structured environment for critical feedback, for meeting milestones and learning to present your work, formally and informally, orally and in writing.
Each class has 12 people. All seminar teachers are professionals who are expert facilitators in supervising thesis projects to completion. Don’t stress over who your teacher will be. You will find that the success of the seminar is more dependent on the class than the teacher.
Seminar instructors impose weekly deadlines and progress milestones (aka assignments) and also offer critique of your thesis projects-in-process within the class environment. Often you learn as much about your own project by listening to the critiques of your colleagues’ work. Outside evaluators and full-time faculty are brought in for critiques at mid-term and at the end-of-semester.
A major element of you thesis is the Thesis Document, which will be both online and in hard copy. Your seminar instructor will provide you the requirements for online documentation at the start of the semester. The thesis paper should be at least 10 pages, 2500 words, in length. It can be longer--obviously, a Written Research Thesis paper will be substantially longer.
By Week 11, you must submit two things:
- Official Submission or the Thesis Week Program: Title, Short Description( elevator statement). & URL
- Submission for the ITP Thesis 2011 Book (see below)
Submit the full Thesis Document to your thesis teacher on the last day of class. It consists of the complete written documentation of your thesis project. The structure follows the form on the Thesis Web Site. (ipt.nyu.edu/projects/addthesis.php)
The Thesis Document is the lasting archive and communication of your research, development, and accomplishment. It includes at least these parts:
- Thesis abstract/overview - Brief description of your Thesis
- Personal Statement
- Description - Approach to the problem, key details
- Methodology & Documentation-What you did, how you approached the making of your thesis, starts, false starts, solutions
- Conclusions - What happened, next steps based on your observations.
- Sources/Bibliography - A list of key readings and resources
The document must be submitted to complete your thesis. It is the formal permanent record of your work, suitable for archival storage. You must upload a PDF to your Thesis Website and hand in a hard copy to your Thesis teacher on the last day of class. Therefore, your thesis documentation must be bound, contain all relevant information on the cover page (name, thesis title, thesis instructor, date), and have all accompanying materials on disk or tape securely attached.
Think of it as an annotated description of the work you did, the landscape you covered, the detours and wrong turns, the success you had, and the project you developed.
The document may use the above format, in which case your outline has already been completed, or any other format deemed appropriate by your Thesis Seminar instructor, as long as it satisfactorily addresses each of the above areas.
Thesis Book & Website
The Thesis Book is a bound volume that will include a short description of every student’s thesis. Every student gets a double page spread. There will be some basic information you have to fill out: The Title, The elevator Statement and the URL. This info will be used for the Thesis week program.
There will be a permanent website with everyone’s thesis document, presentation and the saved live-chat that surrounds your presentation. The website will be searchable by name, category, class, etc.
You will get updates as the semester progresses about any additional information needed for the book and website. This info will be due no later than Week 11.
Thesis Week Presentations
During Thesis Week, each student holds the stage for a a twenty minute presentation of his/her thesis. Thesis Presentations are attended by all full-time faculty, are open to an invited audience, including guests of the presenters. They are also webcast, and the video is archived for later viewing. You will have ample opportunity in class to practice and refine your presentation.
Please contain your presentation within the walls of the room. It’s impossible (and wasteful) in 20 minutes to get people in and out of the room, and it doesn’t work for the webcast. If your project is just too big—you might consider a video of it, and also installing it on the floor so that people can interact afterwards during a break. But any floor installation, of course, must be approved by your thesis teacher and Rob Ryan.
Thesis Presentations may take a variety of forms, but in all cases serve to demonstrate professional competency in the student's chosen area of inquiry, as well as to communicate the thesis proposition and its conclusions.
FAQ for snake fighting portion the presentation.
|End of Fall Semester||Discuss Ideas with Advisor, Faculty Member or Nancy|
|Winter Break||Work on Preliminary Proposal|
|First Class:Week 1||Submit Proposal to Thesis Instructor|
|Week 3||Submit Schedule of Work to Thesis Instructor|
|Week 7||Mid-Term Reviews with Outside Evaluators|
|Week 11||Official submission for Thesis Show and Thesis Book: Title, description, & URL|
|Weeks 13& 14||Final In-Class Presentations|
|Thesis Week (May 9-13)||Final Presentation|
|May 13||Big Celebration!!!!!! Your thesis is done. You survived.|