At Carleton, our students’ intellectual curiosity drives their engagement in research in a variety of disciplines — and sometimes across them. The Council of Undergraduate Research (CUR) defines research as “an inquiry or investigation by undergraduate students that makes an original intellectual or creative contribution to the discipline.” And it can include projects in the arts, humanities, social sciences, and sciences.

The practice of humanistic research can be very different in different fields. It is important that we have some common understandings and definitions with regards to undergraduate student research.

Student Research Partnerships

Student Research Partnerships provide an opportunity for students and faculty to work closely and collaboratively for their mutual benefit. The faculty supervisors of student research are in the best position to determine whether student projects constitute research, as broadly defined by CUR. The most important factors in this assessment are whether the student is making an intellectual or creative contribution to the discipline and whether the student will be mentored to increase their capacity as an independent researcher. Some departments have a mechanism for giving academic credit to students for this work during the academic year.  During summer and winter breaks students are hired by faculty as Student Research Partners.  Faculty apply for funding for student research partners. 

Student Research Assistants

Student Research Assistants do not have intellectual ownership of the research product. The tasks they perform assist faculty members, but do not necessarily lead to an increased capacity for the students to conduct independent research. Student positions that primarily consist of tasks such as proof-reading, locating references or sources, transcribing or coding interviews, and bibliographic editing, without deeply engaging the students in research design, implementation, and interpretation, are primarily for the benefit of the faculty member (and college). Therefore, these positions are designated as work-study and are funded through department student work budgets. Additionally, faculty wishing to hire a student research assistant to help with a particular project can apply for a Student Research Assistant grant through the Director of Undergraduate Research to fund up to 160 student work hours during breaks and up to ten hours a week during the term. This fund is intended primarily to benefit the faculty member and facilitate the progress of their research. Faculty who hire a student as an SRA are not eligible for a summer mentoring stipend.

Independent Research Projects

Independent Research Projects (on- or off-campus) are projects that students develop and carry out on their own. Students can receive credit for independent research projects they pursue during the term, by enrolling in either Independent Research (course number 292 or 392) or Comps (course number 400). These require that students identify a faculty member who agrees to supervise their research. Students must seek their own funding for these projects.

Humanities Center Funding for SRPs

The Humanities Center provides the funding for Student Research Partners engaging in humanistic research. Faculty can apply for up to 2 student research partners or funding for a summer research group.