Why Do Research?
About the Office
Location: Swenson Social and Behavior Sciences Building, Room 107
Office Hours: Monday - Friday, 12:00 - 3:30 pm
Phone: (805) 493-3796
Coordinator: Dr. Marylie Gerson
The following are answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs) regarding the Office of Undergraduate Research and Creative Scholarship (OURCS).
- Does the OURCS provide students with scholarships?
The term “scholarship” in the office name refers to scholarly projects that students may conduct. The OURCS primarily supports student work by organizing and promoting showcase events, by providing educational workshops, and by facilitating student-faculty collaborations.
Limited funds from the university and private donors to support these projects are also available through the OURCS. Funds are available to provide small travel grants for students presenting their work at conferences, to buy supplies related to scholarly projects, and to support approximately 30 students over the summer for full-time CLU faculty-mentored projects.
- What about faculty seeking support for their research and scholarly work?
Faculty seeking funds for their own work or travel should contact the Office of Sponsored Research (OSR) for information on obtaining grants. The OURCS focuses on providing support for undergraduates’ work.
- I’m a student and would like to attend a professional conference. Can I get a travel grant?
Yes, if you are an undergraduate, first author on the work, and will be presenting at a conference that involves a peer-review process, you are eligible to apply for up to $500 to help cover registration, travel, and lodging. Unfortunately, we do not yet have the funds to support graduate students or travel simply to attend a conference, and we usually can't fund a complete class project--your instructor may be able to help you apply for assistance from his or her department. We are also limited to giving no more than $500 to any one student during a fiscal year (June 1 through May 31). The amount awarded will depend on whether your faculty mentor is likely to have access to other sources of funding, the number of students your mentor is hoping to fund (there is a cap of $1,500 in funding of students for any one mentor, per fiscal year), and how much is available in the OURCS budget at the time that funding is sought. Applications should be made on-line through the OURCS website. You will be notified of the amount you can expect to be awarded. Reimbursements will be made for covered expenses after the travel is completed, and itemized, original receipts and proof of attendance have been received and processed.
- I've presented some work at the Southern California Conferences for Undergraduate Research (SCCUR). I just need reimbursement for my registration fee. Should I still apply for a travel grant or would this require a different kind of small grant application?
You should still just apply for a travel grant.
- Can I get an “advance” to help pay for expenses ahead of time?
Unfortunately, no. We must receive proof of actual participation, and itemized, original receipts with a CLU reimbursement form must be processed through the CLU business office, before the OURCS can release funds.
- I’m a student and working on some research with a CLU faculty mentor. I need funding for supplies. Can I get help?
Some funding (up to $500) is available for student (undergraduate) projects. Work with your CLU faculty mentor to develop an itemized estimate of expenses and submit this with your on-line application. We wish we could cover all costs associated with undergraduate research, but our budget is limited--the award decision will be based on a number of factors, including current status of the budget and probable alternative sources of funding available to the mentor. The actual award will then be made as a reimbursement to you, after the purchases have been made, and itemized, original receipts have been received and processed.
- What if my project doesn’t involve scientific research? Can I apply for funding for travel or supplies?
Absolutely. Many disciplines involve scholarly creative processes that do not follow the “scientific method.” “Undergraduate research” includes any project that reflects the scholarly process of a discipline, but to make it very clear that all such projects are eligible, we added “Creative Scholarship” to the name of our office.
- I’d like to become involved in a full-time scholarly project over the summer. How do I proceed?
First, talk with CLU faculty about their scholarly interests and the instructor’s availability over the summer. You will need a CLU faculty mentor to collaborate with you on your project throughout the summer, so it will be important that you develop a topic together—most likely, the topic will involve an extension of the faculty member’s area of expertise. You and your proposed mentor should then develop a detailed proposal together early during the spring semester, to be submitted to the OURCS no later than March 1. Check the OURCS website for details early in the spring.
- How competitive is the application process?
Very. Last summer, private donors made 16 fellowships available for students in the natural sciences (Swenson Fellowships), 4 for applied scientific computing (Darling Fellowships), 2 for global studies (Pearson Fellowships), and 1 for applied economics (Overton Fellowship). The university provided additional funds (SURFs) to support 5 students in other disciplines, such as psychology, religion, English, political science, art, etc. Only projects that are scholarly, are likely to be successfully completed by the end of the summer, and may lead to presentations at conferences outside the university are considered. A clear purpose, method for accomplishing the goals, and realistic timeline are essential.
- I’d just like to work part-time on a project over the summer. May I apply for a fellowship?
At this time, the OURCS provides support only for a full-time summer research experience. Students are expected to dedicate themselves 40 hours a week to an 8-week project, and to participate fully in regular gatherings to share their experiences and discuss their progress. They will also be asked to present their findings and share their experiences at various events throughout the year. If you have another job or are taking summer school, you should not apply for this experience.
- I’m excited about the Festival of Scholars in the spring. How can I participate as a presenter?