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Directed Research/Directed Studies

Registering for Directed Research (4994), Directed Studies (4993), Writing Intensive Directed Research (4794W) or Writing Intensive Directed Studies (4793W) allows you to get credit for conducting research or independent studies. To get a permission number to register, you must first submit an online directed research contract. Both you and your faculty mentor will have sections to fill out. See below for additional registration instructions, and answers to frequently asked questions.

For faculty working with Directed Research or Directed Studies students, please see Expectations for Faculty around Directed Research/Studies.

How do I register?
  • How do I register for Directed Research (4994) or Directed Studies (4993)?

    Follow these steps to register:

    1. Work with your faculty mentor to define the goals of your research project, and determine how you will be evaluated.
    2. Submit a Directed Research / Directed Studies Contact through wfgen. If you have already opened this form once, there may be an existing form already created for you in the system (you can check wfgen for existing forms). You should submit the contract prior to the 10th day of the semester. After this deadline, you can still petition the Scholastics Committee to register. Thus, get started early to ensure your contact is submitted on time.
    3. After you submit your contract, it will be sent to your faculty mentor for approval. Following approval by your faculty mentor, the contract must be sent to your Director of Undergraduate Studies. Please give this contact information to your faculty mentor so they know to whom they should route your contract. You can find contact information for the Directors of Undergraduate Studies on this web page. You should periodically check the status of your contract to ensure it is being processed. Instructions for checking the status of your contract can be viewed here. Any questions about submitting or checking the status of your contract should be directed to cbsrsrch@umn.edu.
    4. Once your contract is fully approved, you will be sent a permission number and instructions for registering. You MUST follow these instructions to register for the course! If you fail to do so, you will not be registered, and will have to submit a petition to the Scholastics Committee to add the course.
    5. Work on your project throughout the semester, and complete any final projects or summaries agreed upon by you and your faculty mentor.
    6. At the end of the semester, your faculty mentor will receive an email requesting grades from cbsrsrch@umn.edu. All Directed Research or Directed Studies courses are graded S/N (satisfactory / not satisfactory).
       
  • What are the expectations, and how do I register for Writing Intensive Directed Research (4794W) or Writing Intensive Directed Studies (4793W)?

    Writing Intensive Directed Research (WI-DR) or Writing Intensive Directed Studies (WI-DS) require that the student and faculty mentor engage in ongoing writing instruction over the entire semester. Writing a paper at the end of the semester without sustained interaction around writing will not fulfill this requirement. A full description of WI requirements and expectations can be found here and here. In your contract, your faculty mentor must provide explicit details about the writing instruction that will be provided.

    If you plan to submit a contract for writing-intensive directed research (4794W) there are a few other instructions to be aware of:

     

    There are three section options for each offering of 4794W.

    • Sec 001: Writing-intensive directed research course with a writing support course that meets on Fridays, 9:05-9:55am. 
    • Sec 002: Writing-intensive research for University Honors Program students who are receiving writing support via the BIOL 4961H course.
    • Sec 003: Writing-intensive research without a writing-support course.

    If you are submitting a contract for writing-intensive directed research, you MUST select a section in your contract. If you do not select a section, the contract will be returned to you. Students considering sections 001 or 003 should discuss with their PI and their DUGS. 

    The writing support course provides students with structure and pacing for the writing process to ensure time for revisions. It provides support for students in interactions with PIs, and a peer community to help make writing a manageable and fulfilling experience. The writing support course does not replace writing instruction provided by the PI.

    Generally, WI-DR is meant for students to write a capstone paper of their work in a lab over a longer period of time than one semester. As such, it is beneficial for you to have prior experience working on the project before you register for WI-DR. Sometimes students who engage in WI-DR in the first semester in a lab are unsuccessful in completing their research and their writing all in one semester. Therefore, you should contact the Director of Undergraduate Studies if you plan to register for WI-DR without prior experience on the project. This requirement does not apply to WI-DS.

    Follow these steps to register:

    1. Review the WI requirements and expectations and confirm that your faculty mentor is willing to provide ongoing writing instruction throughout the entire semester. This means working on informal and formal writing with you and providing instruction about scientific writing conventions and clarity. Many mentors are happy to have you in the laboratory, but are less able to find the time to actively instruct writing. Writing a paper at the end of the semester without sustained interaction around writing will not fulfill this requirement. Make sure that your PI understands that he/she is responsible for meeting the requirements of a WI course instructor. There are many standard WI courses in CBS that you can take to fulfill the requirement as well.

    2. Work with your faculty mentor to define the the informal and formal writing you will be required to complete throughout the semester. Be sure you agree upon a clear  a timeline with deadlines and writing/feedback deliverables to structure the writing and instruction throughout the semester. 

    3. Submit a Directed Research / Directed Studies Contract through wfgen. If you have already opened this form once, there may be an existing form already created for you in the system (you can check wfgen for existing forms). You should submit the contract prior to the 10th day of the semester. After this deadline, you can still petition the Scholastics Committee to register. Thus, get started early to ensure your contact is submitted on time.

    4. After you submit your contract, it will be sent to your faculty mentor for approval. Your faculty mentor must provide explicit details about the writing instruction that will be provided. Following approval by your faculty mentor, the contract must be sent to your Director of Undergraduate Studies. Please give this contact information to your faculty mentor so they know to whom they should route your contract. You can find contact information for the Directors of Undergraduate Studies on this web page. You should periodically check the status of your contract to ensure it is being processed. Instructions for checking the status of your contract can be viewed here. Any questions about submitting or checking the status of your contract should be directed to cbsrsrch@umn.edu.

    5. Once your contract is fully approved, you will be sent a permission number and instructions for registering. You MUST follow these instructions to register for the course! If you fail to do so, you will not be registered, and will have to submit a petition to the Scholastics Committee to add the course.

    6. Work on your project throughout the semester, and complete the work agreed upon by you and your faculty mentor.

    7. IMPORTANT: Complete your final writing product and obtain final approval by your faculty mentor. Once you receive approval from your faculty mentor, submit your paper to the course Canvas site by the final day of instruction for review by the Director of Undergraduate Studies (DUGS). They will review your paper and assign your final course grade. Occasionally they ask for revisions to meet capstone standards, so be prepared for that possibility. Your faculty mentor will also receive an email from cbsrsrch@umn.edu approximately 3 weeks prior to the last day of instruction requesting a S/N grade for your research participation.

  • When do I need to submit my directed research or directed studies contract?

    You should plan to submit your contract by the 10th day of the semester. If you cannot submit your contract by that date, you can still submit a petition to the Scholastics Committee to register.

  • I am an Honors student thinking about taking Writing Intensive Directed Research (4794W) or Writing Intensive Directed Studies (4793W). What do I need to know?

    As an Honors student you should plan to register for Writing Intensive Directed Research (WI-DR) or WI Directed Studies during the Spring semester of your senior year, the same semester that you’ll be taking BIOL 4961H and completing your thesis. The BIOL 4960/4961 course sequence scaffolds writing instruction and thesis writing and you do not need another finished product to meet the WI requirement. This is the only semester in which you should register for WI-DR, unless you are working on a non-thesis based project.

    For any additional questions, please contact your UHP advisor, or Dr. Leslie Schiff (schif002@umn.edu).

Frequently Asked Questions