Mentoring a student research project is a considerable time commitment.
Students, especially those that are brand new to research, need to be trained and encouraged. You will need to meet with your student(s) at least once a week. All of the work they do, including the final presentation and poster, will require your review and suggestions for revision. Agreeing to mentor a student’s research project is an agreement that you will commit your time and mental energy to this project throughout the semester.
Consider whether you are the appropriate mentor given the student’s research interests.
Students may approach you for a research opportunity simply because they like you as a professor. When you learn of their research interests, you may find that you are not the best advisor for the project being proposed. If you are not the most appropriate advisor for a given project, be willing to direct the student to a faculty member who is a better match for the project.
Ask that your student submit his/her research proposal to you before they are submitted to the chair of the Student Research Committee.
Make sure there is time for you to review the original research proposal and for your student to revise it before final submission to the committee. If you are able to sign off on the quality of the proposal and are convinced that all sections are included, the student is much less likely to have to rewrite and submit a second time.
Decide on student time commitment when registering for the student research course.
Students may earn one to three credits when taking the student research course. Each credit requires three hours of research time each week. Mentors should consider the project proposal and determine the student time commitment at the time of registration. So that all credits are earned, make sure the student is fulfilling the time commitment for which he/she has registered.
Be explicit about your expectations and have students agree to a grading scheme for the semester.
As an advisor, you will provide your student(s) with a grade for the student research course. Outline your expectations and grading scheme and share these with your research student at the start of the semester. Students feel more comfortable when they understand the expectations. The poster, oral presentation, and weekly meetings are required of all students in the course and are all assessable components. The specific project may demand others, such as a notebook.
Develop a detailed timeline with your student.
A detailed timeline helps keep your student(s) on track to completion. You may need to revisit the timeline as the semester develops, but deadlines are important for student motivation. Expect that certain phases of the project will end at specific times so your student budgets his/her time appropriately. Sometimes firm start dates are as important as end dates. For example, your student(s) shouldn’t spend half the semester on the poster.
Make sure appropriate data analysis is applied to the data collected.
Students should apply appropriate statistical analyses to their quantitative data. If sample sizes are too small or if analysis is being reserved for a future phase of the project, this explanation should be explicitly stated in presentation and poster. There should be an expectation that data have been or will be analyzed.
Student research should be conducted in a way that would enable the student to present the project at a professional conference.
Not all student research projects may be ready for a professional conference after a single semester of work, but all projects should be conceived with professional conferences in mind. The Annual Meeting of the Pennsylvania Academy of Science is a student-friendly conference that takes place in state every March. Especially because student conference fees are supported by our student research grant, students and their advisors are encouraged to aim for professional conference presentation.
Ask that your student submit his/her poster and presentation to you before they are submitted to the chair of the Student Research Committee.
Make sure there is time for you to review your student’s final presentation materials before final submission. Oral presentation and poster should both be approved by the mentor before they are submitted to the Student Research Committee.
Information about using grant funds to order materials:
Student research is supported by a grant from Bristol Meyers Squibb which covers equipment, supplies and conference fees for students. The grant does not cover professional services, such as, a veterinarian. On average, there is approximately $500.00 per student, but this amount can vary depending on the number of students enrolled in the course. All purchases not in the proposal should be approved by the committee chair before ordering. Copies of all orders need to be submitted to the committee chair for recording keeping and budgeting purposes. If you have a question about purchasing, please contact Cynthia Keler, Chair of the Student Research Committee. Purchases can be made in one of three ways:
- Filling out a requisition form and submitting to the committee chair.
- Personal cash or credit card purchase and then submission of a filled-out check request form with the receipt(s) attached.
- P-card purchase that has been approved before the purchase. Then submission of the receipt and P-card statement for the committee chairs signature.