Summer Research Assistantships: A Resource for Sewanee Faculty

 

2018 Research Assistantship Deadlines for Sewanee Students

  • Research assistantship applications: February 15

  • Research Assistantship FUNDING applications: March 1 (for all academic research assistantships with Sewanee faculty in the sciences, arts, humanities, and social sciences) 


     

Summer Research Assistantships: How do I get started?

Here is a list of the steps to find a student research assistant and/or funding this summer, along with a suggested timeline:

  1. Decide what your summer research project will be and how many students you will need (Nov. 15- Jan. 15)
    • Already know which student(s) you want to select as your summer RA? Skip to #5. 
  1. Post your research assistantship opportunity so that interested students can apply for it on TigerNet (Dec. 1- Jan. 15)

  1. With 1-2 days of the February 15 application deadline, Career & Leadership Development will email the applications for you to review (Feb. 16-17)

  1. QUICK ACTION NEEDED AT THIS STEP: Review the applications, interview the best applicants, then select the best applicant, then offer the RA to him or her (Feb. 17-23)

  1. If your RA is unpaid, provide a letter of confirmation to the student so that they can apply for funding on the Career & Leadership Development website (by March 1)

    • Have external funding for your RA? Instruct the RA to fill out the needed paperwork at the Human Resources office (by April 1)
  1. Provide a wonderful RA experience, then submit an evaluation of your research assistant(s) to CLD, if it was funded by the University (by August 15)


FAQ: Research assistantships with Sewanee faculty

Why was the name changed from “internships” to “research assistantships”?

Academic research opportunities involving Sewanee faculty are called "research assistantships" (RAs) instead of "internships," in order to clearly distinguish between academic research-oriented experiences mentored by our faculty (RAs) and more general off-campus, career-related experiences (internships). The term “research assistantship” is understood to apply to all research or creative activity in all modes of inquiry.  

I would like to work with one or more students on an academic research or creative project.  How to I let students know about such opportunities and attract potential research assistants?

Students know to look at TigerNet, Career & Leadership Development’s listing of internships and other opportunities. The best way to get the word out is to fill out this electronic form.  Please note that it typically takes 1-3 days from the time the form is submitted until the position is posted on TigerNet for the students to see.

Sample posting from Scott Wilson, Politics

When I post my research assistantship on TigerNet, what application deadline should I select?

It is ideal to post your research assistantship opportunity no later than January 15.

Is there a defined process for selecting a research assistant?

No, you may set any reasonable criteria for selection such as required coursework (or performance in those courses) or skills and knowledge required for the project.  You might require a student to be at or beyond a particular point in their academic career (e.g. you may require sophomore or later status).  You may also restrict the applicant pool to a particular set of majors or majors (or not).  

I already have selected a student that I would like to have as my research assistant this summer. Do I still have to post something on TigerNet?

No. If you already know which student you would like to have as a research assistant, you can bypass the TigerNet posting. If you are offering an unpaid RA, please instruct the student to proceed directly to Career & Leadership Development’s online FUNDING application. The student will need a letter or email from you confirming the research assistantship in order to apply for funding. Funding application dates are usually on or around March 1.

I don’t have any funding for a research assistant. How do I find funding?

While Sewanee now has around 36 dedicated “internship” funds, internal funding in support of research assistantships is limited and becoming increasingly competitive. The endowments that support collaborative faculty-student research are currently the Undergraduate Research Fund (formerly FITL), the Science Research funds (inc. Beatty, Davis-Pinson, Greene, and Yeatman endowments), Raoul Conservation Fund, McGriff-Bruton Mathematics & Computer Science Research Fund, and the Environmental Studies funds (inc. Brewster, Fitzsimons, Mellon, Lankewicz, Leroy, Moisio, Sommer-Speck, and Thomas endowments.) While many of these funds are restricted to specific disciplines, it should be stressed that projects from all areas and all majors ARE eligible for funds. 

Please note that these funds must be applied for by the student research assistant (and not the faculty member) by the deadline noted above.

What are the rules and qualifications that apply for the funding?

Generally, the grant is intended to support full engagement in the scholarly work for up to 8 weeks.  Research assistants are paid a stipend of $375 per week, with the expectation that they will work full time (~40 hours per week) on the project.  Typically, this expectation means that the research assistant will not have other jobs. Beyond that, it is worth noting that there are limited University funds available to support student research assistants and as such the application process is competitive. Factors considered include the quality of the proposal and the general qualifications of the student application. Students may not take summer school classes while they are a full-time research assistant.

Can I have a part-time research assistant during the summer?

As noted above, funding via internal support comes with an expectation of a “full-time” commitment (32-40 hours/week) by the student during the funded period. 

What research assistant projects tend to be funded? Do you have any tips for writing a competitive proposal?

First, it is critical to realize that as more students and faculty engage in collaborative scholarship, the pressure on the available funds has become significant, meaning that the proposal review process is increasingly competitive.  Recognizing that judging projects from a wide range of disciplines is intrinsically difficulty the various review committees look at the student’s prior academic record (readiness to carry out scholarly work), the aims of the project, the appropriateness of the project timeline and the likely outcomes of the work.  This last category includes both the tangible products (i.e. presentations, papers, works of art, etc) and the intangible products (e.g. student intellectual growth or career preparation).  

It is important to note that the selection committees have been hesitant to fund pedagogy work if there is no statement about scholarly outcomes. The reason for this resistance to funding pedagogy projects is in part because there is support for such projects from Center for Teaching (CFT). However, if there is a pedagogy project that is also expected to produce scholarly results, such proposals may be eligible for co-funding from both offices. It is wise to discuss such plans with the relevant Directors prior to beginning the proposal process.  

If you need further guidance about the eligibility of a project for funding, please contact the Director of Undergraduate Research directly to discuss your ideas.

Can a student apply for funding after they graduate? I have a student who is graduating in May and she would like to stay for 2-3 weeks so that she can complete some details from her senior project in order to make it publishable as a journal paper.

It is not currently forbidden for a graduating senior to apply for such funding; however, such students will almost universally receive a lower priority for funding than continuing students in a competitive funding process.  Additionally, support beyond 2-4 weeks is fairly unlikely given current availability of funds.  

Questions about the appropriateness of the request might be discussed with the Director of Undergraduate Research or the individual charged with administering a given fund.

Can a student take a summer school course at Sewanee in addition to having a research assistantship?

No.

Is it possible to have 2 research assistants funded simultaneously?

Since funding is made to the student and not to the faculty member, it is indeed possible for multiple students to apply for support to work with a single faculty mentor.  However, it is critical in such cases that the proposals clearly show how each student will contribute to the work either by working on separate aspects of a larger project or because a team approach is required for the work.  Proposals that appear to have multiple students working on the same tasks without specific justification typically do not fare well.

 

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