BIO 398: Research and Writing in Biology, is a variable credit course for the advanced biology student wishing to gain experience in research and scientific writing. This course fulfills the written component of the GCCR, and is an outstanding opportunity for students to expand their horizons and deepen appreciation of contemporary biological research, whatever their career goals. For BIO 398, a minimum portion of the student's grade MUST be determined by one or more writing assignment(s) for a total of 4,500 words, with an opportunity to revise and turn in subsequent version(s). BIO 398 works well for students who are continuing a project into another semester and therefore have good working knowledge within that particular research topic.
Fall or Spring of the junior year are good times to initiate a research project but involvement in research at any point is very beneficial. However, faculty prefer to take juniors so that projects can be continued over several semesters. BIO 398 needs to be taken only once to earn credit for the written portion of the GCCR requirement. It is generally not a good idea to count on taking one semester of BIO 398 during your last semester, as you may have trouble finding a lab to join. Those wanting to take BIO 398 need to have confirmed a project with a faculty mentor before submitting the contract.
** Please note that only 6 TOTAL hours of BIO 394, BIO 395, BIO 397, or BIO 398 can be counted towards Biology upper-level electives.**
1. FIND A FACULTY RESEARCH MENTOR: Use ForagerOne to find a few faculty whose research interests you. Faculty may be in the Department of Biology or anywhere else on campus, as long as their research is biological.
2. CONTACT POTENTIAL MENTORS: Email a few mentors whose research interests you. Here is a document with what you could say in your introductory email. You may exchange a few emails regarding the time commitments, availability, expectations, etc.
Click HERE for a guide on how write an email inquiring about research opportunities.
TIME COMMITMENT: Make sure that you are honest and upfront about your availability. In general, you should spend approximately 48 hours per credit on research over the course of the semester. This translates to an average of 3 hours per week over a 16-week period for every credit that you sign up for; this might vary by the week. (Lab Hours to Credit Hours Conversions)
3. MEET WITH FACULTY MENTOR: Once you have been accepted in one or more labs, set up a meeting with the faculty member to discuss potential projects.
4. CONTRACT: In consultation with your mentor, complete the BIO 398 Contract (click here for web form).This webform is the student portion of the contract. Be prepared to answer the following three questions:
- What is the main question your project will address? What is your hypothesis or driving principle?
- What types of experiments will you perform? Include brief technical details.
- What might the results of your experiments be? How could these results support or refute your hypothesis or contribute to knowledge in the field?
Please answer these questions after discussing your research plan with your mentor. You must write it in your own words. If you are continuing a project with the same faculty mentor and all the grading criteria are the same, you don't have to answer the project questions again.
5. MENTOR APPROVAL: Once the student portion is completed and submitted, an email with the information you entered will be sent to your research mentor to approve. The email will also contain a link for the faculty portion of the contract. Once completed and submitted by your faculty mentor, your contract will be received by the Biology Department.
6. APPROVAL AND REGISTRATION: You will receive email with instructions for registration if your project is approved. At that time, you will need to register for the course in myUK. If the contract is not approved, we will contact you or your research mentor.