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Neuroscience 3860 Introduction to Research Guidelines


The broad objective of NSC 3860 is for the student to become familiar with the current projects, techniques, and publications of a neuroscience research laboratory. In order to do this, the student will need to become familiar with the most important current literature that is significant for the work in the laboratory and take part in a research project in the laboratory. The emphasis will be on scientific reading and writing, and on obtaining sufficient practical experience to comprehend the process of development of scientific ideas as well as the problems and difficulties involved in research.


Starting Fall 2017: All undergraduate students conducting research in Neuroscience have to complete Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) training online.

  • Click here for training requirements and information. When taking the online RCR training, enroll in the Bio/Physical Sciences (VUBPS) course – unless you are working in Wilson Hall with human subjects, in which case, you can select the Psychological Sciences (VUPSY) course as an alternate.
  • Once online training is completed, you will receive a completion report via email. You may either forward that email to the Program Office, or there will be a link that allows you to share the report. Confirmation has to be received by the Program Office before you can be registered for the research course.


The first step in registering for NSC 3860 is to identify a faculty sponsor. Look at the research opportunities available on the NSC web page under Research where you will find a short research description of the faculty involved in the neuroscience program. If you are interested in working with a faculty member that is not already approved to mentor students but conducts Neuroscience research, you must first get permission from the Director of Independent Studies. The faculty member must then agree that they are willing to direct a student’s research for these courses. It is left to your initiative to determine what area of research you wish to pursue. Contact the faculty whose research description you like and ask whether you could visit and work in her/his lab. We suggest that you contact more than one lab. Some researchers will tell you that they already have several students and cannot take any more. After you have found a mentor, download the NSC 3860 Contract. Complete the application form and email it as an attachment to your faculty. Your faculty sponsor should then forward the entire email, including the attachment, to the Program Office.  Paper contracts will not be accepted. This process assures the Program Office that that the sponsor has seen and approved the contract. Assuming you meet all the requirements and have taken the appropriate prerequisites, you will be registered. An email will be sent to both the student and faculty sponsor for confirmation of registration.*

**In order to be registered on time, contracts MUST be emailed to Program Office no later than 24 hours before the end of the Open Enrollment period. ***

Students that are considering taking NSC 3860 are urged to make contact with potential faculty sponsors early in the pre-registration period for the semester they plan to enroll. If you have questions, contact the Program Office.

Course Structure

Once a student has been admitted to NSC 3860, his or her primary interactions during the semester will be with the faculty sponsor and members of the sponsor’s laboratory. The goal of the research component of this course is not research achievement. That would be impractical in the time available. Rather, the student will use the time spent on a research project to become familiar with the research process. Reading and understanding the relevant research literature and discussions with the mentor and other members of the laboratory are important components of the course.

Final Report

This is an 7 to 10 page report. It should contain background information, a description of the research project(s) on which the student worked, a section in which future directions of research are discussed, and a short reference list. In addition, your report should include a specific section regarding the neuroscience background and significance of the work. For the final report, the mentor is encouraged to comment on a first draft of this report.


The paper is due on the last day of class. There will be a deduction of 1 letter grade for papers received after the deadline. Copies should be submitted to the program through Brightspace AND to the student’s faculty mentor. The paper is to be graded by the faculty mentor who should submit a recommendation for a final grade to the Program Office within one week of the due date.