Independent Study Abroad

The Biology program will grant credit for independent research projects conducted as part of an approved study abroad program. Students should make an effort to adhere to the general guidelines for Independent Study.

In order to receive final approval for credit, the student should submit the following to the Director of Undergraduate Studies: a copy of the final paper, signed by the project supervisor; the academic credentials of the project supervisor; a copy of the lab/field notebook, or; a note from the project supervisor attesting to the student's effort and independence. The note should also attest to the student's merit, if there is no course grade or other indicator of merit.

Guidelines:

1. The project must be appropriate work in the biological sciences.

This assessment will be made by the Director of Undergraduate Studies (DUS) in Biology. It will be based on a final report or written description of the project and on the academic credentials of the project supervisor.

2. The project must be an independent research project.

The student takes substantial responsibility for the formulation of a hypothesis, data collection, data analysis and interpretation. In the case of a collaborative effort, the student should have a distinct and identifiable role in the project.

3. The student should spend at least ~140 hours on the project.

This may include planning, data collection (including field work), analysis and writing. Note that the time spent writing (not including data analysis) should be a small portion of the total time investment. Partial credit is possible for more limited projects. The student's time investement should be documented, either in the form of a notebook signed by the supervisor or a note from the supervisor.

4. The student should prepare a final written report of the project.

The final paper should be evaluated and signed by the project supervisor. The format of the final paper is at the discretion of the project supervisor.

5. The student may not be paid, either during or after, for the work done in the project.
 

6. In order to receive final approval for credit, the student should submit the following to the Director of Undergraduate Studies:

  • copy of the final paper, signed by the project supervisor
  • the academic credentials of the project supervisor
  • copy of the lab/field notebook, or
  • a note from the project supervisor attesting to the student's effort and independence. The note should also attest to the student's merit, if there is no course grade or other indicator of merit.

An example of a supervisor's statement:

To the Director of Undergraduate Studies, Duke University:

This letter is to attest to the directed research work undertaken by Melanie while she was a student at the Centre for Rainforest Studies (School for Field Studies) in North Queensland, Australia. My background is in zoology, with an emphasis on vertebrate ecology. Since 1987 I have been focussing on composition and dynamics of bird communities of the Australian Wet Tropics subregion. Currently I am carrying out this research while teaching rainforest ecology at the Centre for Rainforest Studies.

I supervised Melanie's directed research, at which time she worked on my ongoing project at the centre. This is a long-term project investigating the dynamics of bird communities in relation to rainforest succession. The project has been in operation since 1988, and currently includes the largest database of banding and census data in the Australian Wet Tropics. The long-term aims are twofold: gaining a knowledge of the successional processes of both forest and bird communities will allow firstly an evaluation of landscape level dynamics of bird communities and secondly a comparison of avifaunas of natural regrowth versus those of actively restored sites, to assist in development of strategies that will optimise recovery of forest fauna in degraded sites. During the directed research period (March 29 - May 4 2005), Melanie worked fulltime on the project and devoted approximately 16-18 hours to research design and set-up of the field sites, 110 hours to data collection, 24 hours to data entry and analysis and about 48 hours writing. This letter is also to state that the work presented in Melanie's research paper was written independently by her.

Yours faithfully,

John D. Grant, PhD