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Common Questions

Here are answers to the questions we hear most often about undergraduate research.

Common Questions about Undergraduate Research

Is undergraduate research only for students in the sciences?
No! Even though working in a science laboratory is the example of research that comes to mind for most people, undergraduate research can be done in any discipline. You should consider what your interests are and investigate options in the most likely areas. You can reach out to faculty members in your major or to faculty and staff across campus to work on interdisciplinary projects.

Can I do research in the sciences without being a Science Research Fellow (SRF)?
Yes! The expanded Science Research Fellows program provides a scaffolded pathway to help students develop research skills, but you may want to get involved in science research without completing other parts of the SRF program.

Can I do research as a first-year student?
Yes! Undergraduates may do research at any point during their time at DePauw. Some projects are better suited to different times during your education, but it’s not always obvious from the outside. Don’t rule anything out without having conversations with mentors.

Am I only allowed to do research in my major?
No! You may do research in any area. For many students, their deepest interests lie in their major, and thus it is most common for students to do research in their major. However, as a liberal arts institute, we encourage students to explore and synthesize multiple areas of interest.

Can research be done in the summer as well as during the academic year?
Yes. Students work with faculty members during both the academic year and the summer.  During the academic year, progress on the project will likely be slower since both faculty and students have obligations to their course work. There is also limited funding available for students who work on projects during the summer. Some students combine academic-year and summer work for even deeper engagement.

Can I get credit for doing research?
Yes. In many cases, students can earn .25 - 1 course credits for research projects during the academic year; however, in those cases you should talk with your faculty sponsor and academic advisor to ensure that you're not over-enrolled for the semester. For summer research, students can apply for Extended Studies credit.

May I conduct research with a faculty member on a voluntary basis, without receiving credit or payment?
The opportunity for students to work collaboratively with faculty members on research, scholarly, and creative activities is a valuable component of a liberal arts education. Whenever possible, DePauw University seeks to provide either academic credit or monetary compensation to students who engage in these activities. There are times, however, when a student is eager to pursue an opportunity for more informal collaboration for which neither credit nor funding is available. Although DePauw generally discourages these "voluntary" activities, exceptions may be made where possible, with approval from the Office of Academic Affairs, which will consult with Human Resources and Risk Management. Approval of voluntary collaboration between students and faculty members during the summer does not grant students access to University housing.

Are their funds to help me attend conferences?
Yes. Funding is available for students who present at conferences. The Hubbard Center and some departments also maintain small pools of funding for students who wish to attend a conference without presenting. See the funding section of this website for more details. 

Do I need to apply to the Institutional Review Board (IRB) when I perform research with human participants?
Yes. It is important that you check the IRB website to determine whether your project requires approval from the IRB. This committee can also provide you with additional support for your research design, if you wish. However, concern about IRB approval should not prevent you from trying to identify research opportunities.The IRB process is something that is often worked through in collaboration with your faculty mentor.