Neuroscience 293a and 293b Undergraduate Research Guidelines
The purpose of the Advanced Research course is to provide the student who has developed the technical and conceptual skills to conduct laboratory research an opportunity to continue and expand upon his/her research experience. The student works in the laboratory of a member of the neuroscience faculty at Vanderbilt and is expected to provide independent contributions to the design and execution of the research project.
Prerequisites: NSC 292a and NSC 292b. Completion of NSC 293a is required as a pre-requisite for NSC 293b. NSC 293b may be repeated for credit.
Selecting a Research Mentor
The student will select a mentor from the faculty of the Neuroscience Program. Generally it is expected that the student will continue research in the laboratory in which NSC 292a and NSC 292b were completed, but it is not required.
- Read the “course structure and requirements” (below)
- Download and complete the contract for NSC-293a-Contract2 NSC-293b-Contract2. The application will include a written research proposal.
- E-mail the completed contract to your research mentor. Paper forms will not be accepted. Include a short text message to the effect that the contract is attached.
- Your research mentor should then forward the entire e-mail, including the attachment, to the Program Director, Terry Page and the Program Office will register the student. Confirmation of registration will be sent to both the student and the mentor by email. This process assures the department that the research mentor has seen and approved the proposal.
If after following all these guidelines you still have questions, contact the Program Office.
**In order to be registered on time, contracts MUST be emailed to the Program Director, Terry Page no later than 24 hours before the end of the DROP/ADD period. ***
Course structure and requirements
Once a student has been admitted to NSC 293a or NSC 293b his or her primary interactions during the semester will be with the faculty sponsor and members of the sponsor’s laboratory. Students working on summer research are required to spend 12-15 hours/week in the lab for the full summer session.
1. Final written report.
All students are required to write a final paper that summarizes the research accomplished throughout your tenure in the lab. In most cases this paper will be a revision/extension of the paper your wrote for NSC 292b (or NSC 293a if you are in NSC 293b). In that case you should treat the earlier paper as a draft, and the goal should not be to rewrite the entire paper but to significantly improve on the quality of the writing and scholarship that went into the earlier paper while adding in new data/results/interpretations that emerged from your work this semester.
The paper should be modeled after a typical scientific journal article and include an Introduction/Background, Methods, Results, and Discussion sections. The document should be no more than 20 double spaced pages with 1-inch margins, and 12 pt Times or equivalently clear font. Figures and tables should be embedded within the document and all figures must be accompanied by figure legends. A list of cited references should be included at the end of the paper. The expectation is that the student will have read previous papers on the topic of their research and understand the reasoning that led to their research effort. They should also express an understanding of the hypotheses and methods on which their lab efforts were based. If the results warrant statistical treatment the analytic methods should be included or referenced. The discussion should be focused narrowly on the results and their interpretation.
Please contact the Program Office if you have questions about the organization and style of the paper. The paper is to be graded by the faculty sponsor and a copy must be emailed to the Program Office by the date specified by the Program Office.
2. Oral presentation. Students will also be expected to give an oral presentation of their research to the members of the laboratory. This presentation will be evaluated by the student’s research sponsor and will contribute to the assessment of the final grade.
The final report is to be graded by the faculty sponsor and a copy must be emailed to the Program Office by the date specified by the Program Office. The final grade for the course will be assigned by the faculty sponsor with concurrence of the Director of Honors and Independent Study. The grade will be based on the final paper and oral presentation along with a strong emphasis on the evaluation of the student’s performance in the laboratory of the faculty sponsor.