Faculty Guidance to Remote Undergraduate Research
During the pandemic, continuing undergraduate research projects will require significant adjustments. Here are a few tips for faculty mentors and their undergraduate research students. Please note that we will be continually updating this page with more resources as we find them so check back periodically.
What to do?
Adjust your expectations
Goals set up at the beginning of the student’s project should be readjusted with remote work in mind. Using Zoom or an equivalent video conferencing tool, faculty mentors and students should set up a time to discuss what work for the research project remains to be done, daily/weekly expectations for the student, and availability of resources to complete any work remotely.
Host meetings, brown bags, and discussions online
Use Zoom, Google Hangouts, Skype, or another online communication platform to host regularly scheduled discussions with your research student. Weekly discussions at a minimum, but even a daily 5 minute check-in can be helpful. Though it is tempting to use email for communication, face-to-face interactions online can help foster the connection among students, mentors, and other researchers, particularly during this time when many will be isolated. Don’t underestimate the value of social connections as we create social distance physically.
If a student cannot continue their research project because they cannot access a lab, equipment, or other research resources, please consider giving them one or more of the following tasks:
- Annotated Bibliography or Literature Review – If the student has already completed this for their current project, considering allowing them to explore other topics related to their project topic.
- Data set analysis – Faculty mentors or graduate students could email data sets to undergraduate researchers for analysis and interpretation.
- Additional online trainings – Assign online trainings such as CITI, lab safety, etc and ask the student to write up a summary. Click here to go to the CITI training page.
- Writing/editing –Students could write up a report on what has been accomplished so far and what needs to be done next, or you can ask your research student to draft or edit a paper.
- The LSU Student Employment office has developed a list of Professional Development projects that student employees can work on remotely.
Keep in mind that some students will not have easy access to a computer or internet at home. They may not have the resources or adequate internet connection. Many students will have to share resources and space with roommates, or, if they are living at home, with younger siblings and parents who are also trying to work remotely. As much as possible, try to be flexible and understanding.
Putting research on pause
For some students, the best course of action may be to put the research project on pause and continue again once they have access to on-campus research resources, equipment, and spaces.
- Oregon University has an open Google doc on “Remote Undergraduate Research and Virtual Mentoring Strategies”
- Elon University has put together a bibliography of publications and online resources that can help inform programmatic and faculty/staff decisions about facilitating mentored undergraduate research online or in a hybrid/flex model
- LSU Libraries has numerous free online resources (including librarians!) Go to this site to see all of their resources available during COVID-19
- Remote Teaching Online for Labs, Studios, Clinicals, Practicums (LSCP) Quick Tips (from U of S.Carolina)
- Conducting social research field research remotely (crowd-sourced document)
- NSF Coronavirus info and resource page
- Teaching Undergraduates with Archives by Bartlett, Gadelha, and Nofziger (open access book)
- Professional societies are providing many options for instruction and engagement. Consult relevant societies (e.g., AAAS, AGU, ASM, ACS, APS, etc.)
- Contact us! Email Sarah Ferstel at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Project funding – students can be paid for remote research work with an LSU Discover project grant.