Carleton’s 2012 Strategic Plan calls us to “emphasize student research as a defining component of a Carleton education.” The Council on Undergraduate Research (CUR) has defined undergraduate research as “an inquiry or investigation conducted by an undergraduate student that makes an original intellectual or creative contribution to the discipline.”

This definition makes clear that students’ engagement in research is due to their own intellectual curiosity and for their own educational benefit. The type of scholarly work that qualifies as “research” is broad and inclusive of the arts, social sciences, humanities, and sciences. All students engaged in research projects will be eligible to apply for Carleton resources for support.

Academic Term Research

During the academic year, student research is under faculty supervision and students earn academic credit for it. The research project can either be independent of a faculty member’s own research program (Independent Research; courses numbered 292/392) or it can involve more structured mentoring by faculty, which occurs in a variety of department-specific courses (e.g. BIOL, CGSC and CHEM 394; PHAS 356; PSYC and CHEM 300). In addition, many departments require research-based comps exercises.

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. The student can often expect to be a co-author on a future publication or to present their findings at a conference or other venue suitable to the discipline.

Student Research Fellowships

During academic breaks, students may receive financial support via a Research Fellowship for the same research activity. The purpose of offering financial support during breaks is so that students can afford to further their education by pursuing more in-depth research experiences. Ideally, students’ time spent doing research, when combined with any other simultaneous employment, should not exceed 40-45 hours per week.

This type of research requires that the answers to all of the following questions be “yes”:

  1. Is the activity part of the student’s overall educational program?
  2. Is the activity conducted primarily for the benefit of the student as part of educational opportunities provided to students?
  3. Are the responsibilities not considered service for the benefit of the college?
  4. Are the activities such that the college would not hire an employee to perform those activities?

The students participating in this research are Student Research Partners and are not classified as employees, which excludes them from hourly compensation and overtime pay. Payment will be in the form of a fellowship, processed by Accounts Payable in one lump sum before or at the onset of the anticipated work.

The Summer 2020 student research funding will be calculated using a $480/weekly full-time rate. For students doing research on a part-time basis, the level of support should be adjusted proportionally (i.e. three quarter-time = $360 per week, half-time = $240 per week, one third-time = $160 per week, etc.). No taxes will be withheld from this payment and students are responsible for tax reporting. The only exception is that international students from countries with which the US does not have a tax treaty will have their payments adjusted so that they will receive the full amount of the fellowship, after 14% US tax withholding. Shari Mayer is the contact person for determining the gross-up payment amount on a case-by-case basis.

Student Research Partners working with Carleton faculty during breaks must sign a waiver that exempts Carleton from responsibility for accidents or injuries resulting from traveling or working during the Research Fellowship. The signed waiver should be returned to the Faculty Mentor and submitted, along with a request for payment, to the Business Office. Melissa Smith is the contact for payment processing.

Student Research Assistants

Faculty may also hire Student Research Assistants. These student workers 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 glassware washing, caring for animals, 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).

These positions are designated as work-study and these students are classified as Carleton employees. These positions are paid, both during the academic term and during breaks, at the college student employment rate (beginning Summer 2020, $11.25 per hour).


Updated: February 2020