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Frequently Asked Questions


General

The Undergraduate Research Scholars (URS) Thesis is a professional document that reflects the culmination of your novel and unique research project. Your URS Thesis will be published in the Undergraduate Research Scholars Capstone Collection of Texas A&M University’s OAKTrust Repository.

There are three templates you will choose from depending on the norms of research in your field. Discuss the appropriate template with your faculty advisor. Download the template that’s right for you on our Resources page.

You can apply as an individual or a team. Teams can be 2-5 students working on a common thesis document under the same Texas A&M faculty advisor, but each member must be responsible for individual contributions to the project. It is expected that team members have equal writing responsibilities. Applications, Progress reports, Public Presentations, Presentation Reports and Final Thesis submissions are required of each team member. It is a good idea before you start to divide up responsibilities and designate the percentage of expected contributions for each member.

Applicants must meet the following eligibility requirements:

  • Be actively involved in an independent undergraduate research project throughout both the fall and spring semesters under the mentorship of a Texas A&M faculty member throughout
  • Have completed at least 60 credit hours (junior status) of undergraduate course work
  • Have at least 24 credit hours at Texas A&M University
  • Have and maintain a cumulative GPR of at least 3.0
  • Be expecting to graduate May 2018 or later 

As early as possible. The application is open between June and September each year. Please note that if you need research compliance approval, you will need to cleared through the office of Research Compliance & Biosafety. This takes time and there is a cut-off date for receiving approval.

If you need to register for a research course associated with your URS Thesis, be aware that you are still subject to the University Registrar’s course registration calendar, so submit your application with plenty of time for us to process your application and notify you of your acceptance. Submit your application as early as possible.

See the Registrar’s academic calendar.

Yes, but only for the spring semester you continue in the URS program. This will allow you to plan your course schedule so you can conduct your research effectively. Once you complete the program, you will not continue to receive priority registration.

Upon graduation, you will be recognized as an Undergraduate Research Scholar. This stand-alone honors distinction will appear on your official transcript after you graduate, and in your graduation ceremony program. You will also receive an Undergraduate Research Scholars medallion as official graduation regalia.

Medallions are distributed at the LAUNCH Recognition Ceremony at the end of the spring semester. If you are unable to attend the Recognition Ceremony, medallions are also distributed at graduation. You will receive your medallion the semester you graduate. Email ugr@tamu.edu with questions about the LAUNCH Recognition Ceremony.

No, this is a full academic year program during the fall/spring semesters only (in that order).

Yes. However, you are still subject to all program and submission deadlines, and must attend all mandatory events. Also, before leaving, you must make sure that you have access to all equipment and materials you will need to complete your thesis. Extensions will not be granted if you do not have access to all necessary materials for your research (i.e., lab spaces, libraries, archives, books, computer and Internet access, etc.). Additionally, you must also make sure that your Texas A&M faculty advisor is aware of your travel plans and you must maintain regular communication while traveling.

You can participate if your December or August graduation follows your completion of the program in a preceding spring semester.

Yes, students may participate in the program twice if they have two separate research projects We often have students participate during their junior year and return during their senior year with a different project.

If you complete the program twice, you still receive only one medallion and are recognized in your graduation ceremony program once.

No. The URS program is open to all students who meet the eligibility requirements.
Yes. However, you must register for UGST 497 for the two semesters that you participate in the program in order for it to count toward your capstone experience. Speak to a University Honors advisor in the LAUNCH office for more details.

Yes, but be advised that you cannot complete the URS program off cycle and you must register and complete the UGST 405 Thesis Writing Course.

If you do not pass the UGST 405 course with a Satisfactory grade, it could impact your graduation.

If you miss a URS program mandatory event or submission deadline without a university-excused absence you will no longer be able to complete the URS program, which therefore could impact your graduation.

If you are participating in the URS program and/or the UGST 405 Course as your writing-intensive (W) course, this could impact your graduation. Speak to your departmental advisor if you have concerns about using the URS program to substitute for your senior design.

No, the URS does not fund students in the program. However, you may be conducting research under a faculty advisor from whom you receive remuneration for your research duties.

The URS program has limited travel awards and poster vouchers available exclusively for students accepted into the URS program to fulfill the public presentation requirement.

No, but you may need or want to have this experience count for course credit. You can do that in four ways:
  1. UGST 405 Thesis Writing Course (1 credit hour W course held in the spring semester, only available to students accepted in the URS program)
  2. 491 Research Credit (0-3 credits)
  3. UGST 497 Honors Capstone Experience (only available to students in the University Honors Program, please speak to a University Honors Program advisor to determine how many credits to take)
  4. Substitution for Senior Design
It can if you sign up for a 491 (0-3 credits) through your academic department. Speak to your faculty advisor and departmental advisor about registering for research course credit. Signing up for research course credit is a great way to get credit for the work you’re doing.

Email us at ugr@tamu.edu or call us at (979) 458-0039.


 

Faculty Advisors

Yes. Applications must be approved and mentored by a Texas A&M faculty member.
Yes. However, you and your faculty co-advisors must decide who will be responsible for approving your application and final thesis through the online system. The system only allows one person.
No. However, you and your Texas A&M faculty advisor must maintain regular communication throughout the two semesters of the program. Make sure that you and your faculty advisor have consulted all program and submission deadlines. No extensions will be granted without university-excused absences.


 

Thesis Process

Once you’re in the program you will have access to our Thesis Manual which contains detailed instructions and resource information for constructing the document. You will also have access to workshops, drop-in sessions, and you can even register for a special UGST 405 Thesis Writing Course. Please remember you should also be talking to your faculty advisor to learn how to write for your field.
You will have the opportunity to construct a timeline in your application. The Application Part 2 Planning Template addresses the following types of questions:
  • When will you complete any required training?
  • When will you seek compliance approval (if needed)?
  • When will you complete your literature review?
  • When and how often will you meet with your faculty advisor?
  • When and where will you do your public presentation?
  • When will you register for conferences or meetings?
  • When will you visit the Writing Center for help?
  • When will you analyze your data?
  • When will you schedule and complete any field work?
  • What milestones did you set out to accomplish?
  • When will you set time aside to complete each installment submission?
  • Do you have access to all necessary equipment, documents, and other resources? If not, when will you obtain all necessary materials for your project?
Student projects vary. There is no formal requirement. However, a good rule of thumb for a final thesis submission should cover at least 30 pages. Many Undergraduate Research Scholars write more than 30 pages.

This Thesis Manual is designed to assist Undergraduate Research Scholars and their faculty advisors in the preparation of theses by providing uniform standards of style and format while allowing enough flexibility to satisfy the accepted practices of different academic disciplines. The Undergraduate Research Scholars Thesis Manual has been adapted from the Thesis Manual published by Graduate and Professional Studies at Texas A&M University to emphasize the expectation that the resulting Undergraduate Research Scholar’s Thesis meets the same high standards for format and style as a professional publication.

You will receive a copy of the Thesis Manual on a USB drive at the Orientation in October once you are accepted into the program. You can also download the latest version of the Thesis Manual on our Resources page.

An embargo is also known as a thesis hold. You and your faculty advisor have the opportunity to place a hold (also known as an embargo) on your thesis if you are seeking publication in an academic journal or intend to submit the work for patent consideration.

  • 2-year Journal Hold
  • 2-year Patent Hold
  • Other as arranged with Undergraduate Research staff

Undergraduate Research Scholars theses are made available to the public in our OAKTrust Collection.

The OAKTrust digital repository at Texas A&M is a digital service that collects, preserves, and distributes the scholarly output of the University. The repository facilitates open access scholarly communication while preserving the scholarly legacy of the Texas A&M community.

Undergraduate Research Scholars theses are made available to the public in our OAKTrust Collection.

Once your thesis is deposited to OAKTrust, it will be available for viewing by the public. You and your faculty advisor have the opportunity to place a hold (also known as an embargo) on your thesis if you are seeking publication in an academic journal or intend to submit the work for patent consideration.

At the end of a thesis hold term (typically 2 years), Undergraduate Research staff will contact your faculty advisor to confirm that the thesis can be released. If you do not place an embargo on your document, your thesis will be published at the end of the summer following your completion of the program.


 

Program Requirements and Approvals

There are three places you will submit documents:
  1. Google Forms (Part 1 of the Application)
  2. Scholars Thesis Submittal System (STSS) (Part 2 of the application and final thesis submission for faculty advisor approval)
  3. eCampus Community (installment and progress report submissions and presentation report)

Application (Proposal and Timeline): Your faculty advisor must approve your application through the Scholars Thesis Submittal System (STSS). LAUNCH staff will review your faculty-approved application and may return it for revisions. Final approval into the URS program is granted by the LAUNCH office and must be completed within the deadlines given for revisions.

Research Compliance: The office of Research Compliance and Biosafety (RCB) is responsible for providing training and support to faculty, students, and staff in regulatory requirements for research. Research Compliance and Biosafety committees:

  1. Human Subjects: Institutional Review Board (IRB)
  2. Vertebrate Animals: Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC)
  3. Biohazards: Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC)

Installment Submissions, Progress Reports, Presentation Reports: LAUNCH staff will review all mandatory submissions and may return installments for revisions. It is your responsibility to complete these within the URS program deadlines or provide a university-excused absence.

Final Thesis: LAUNCH staff will review your last submission of the thesis and may return it for revisions. Your faculty advisor must approve your final thesis through the Scholars Thesis Submittal System (STSS). Completion of the URS program is granted by the LAUNCH office and is dependent upon completion of all required activities and deadlines in the URS program.

Common reasons include:
  • You have failed to complete Part 1 of the application.
  • You did not provide a detailed timeline that incorporates URS program deadlines and/or the timeline is not appropriate for the scope of your project.
  • The proposal lacks a project summary.
  • Your proposal is missing a research question that will produce new and original work.
  • The objectives/goals of the research are not clear. WHY are you doing this? What do you intend to learn? If successful, how will this work move your field forward?
  • You indicate that you will be working with human subjects, vertebrate animals, and/or biohazards, but you left the Research Compliance section blank on your proposal.
  • You marked YES in the research compliance screening questions, but did not elaborate on how your project implicates human subjects, vertebrate animals, and/or biohazards, OR you did not explain whether you are seeking to be amended to an existing compliance protocol.
  • The methods/theoretical framework section is missing, vague, or unclear.
  • The research proposed is based on developing a critical technique or procedure, or having access to an uncommon piece of equipment, but does not address what you will do if the technique or procedure fails or if equipment is not available.
  • The proposal does not include in-text citations from the primary literature to support your justification, approach, or procedures, or it lacks a References/Bibliography/Works Cited section accurately citing these primary sources.
  • The proposal needs proofreading for grammatical, typographical, or has formatting errors.
The URS program follows university policy for absences and missed assignments. You must provide a university-excused absence. See student rules at http://student-rules.tamu.edu.
The URS program follows university policy for absences and missed assignments. You must provide a university-excused absence. See student rules at http://student-rules.tamu.edu.

Yes. You and your faculty advisor need to identify the most appropriate venue for you to present your work. This cannot be a presentation within your own department or to one of your classes. Appropriate venues include regional professional meetings, national or international conferences, or events like Student Research Week or the Ecological Integration Symposium at Texas A&M University.

Students at Texas A&M University at Galveston can present their research at the Student Research Symposium. Qatar Campus students need to consult with their faculty advisors and LAUNCH: Undergraduate Research staff.


 

Research Compliance

The office of Research Compliance and Biosafety (RCB) is responsible for providing training and support to faculty, students, and staff in regulatory requirements for research. RCB provides administrative and operational support for Texas A&M’s research compliance review committees as well as other research compliance programs designated at the university.

Projects may require approval through Research Compliance and Biosafety committees if they involve:

  1. Human Subjects: Institutional Review Board (IRB)
  2. Vertebrate Animals: Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC)
  3. Biohazards: Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC)

Note: Please be aware that if you are using social media and/or online content, you may be subject to review by the Institutional Review Board (IRB).

You should have a conversation with your faculty advisor very early on in the design of your project to determine whether or not your project may require approval from any of the three research compliance committees.

No, but your project may already be covered if you are a part of an ongoing research project under your faculty advisor. However, you still need to complete any required training and must be amended to the existing compliance protocol.

If an existing approval does not exist, you and your faculty advisor will need to determine who will submit the project to the appropriate committee for review, what type of training you need to complete and when, and work with the appropriate committee to submit all required documents and/or revisions to your compliance approval application as requested by the committee.

Please be aware that there is a cut-off date for receiving compliance approval for your URS project. See current URS program deadlines.

Visit rcb.tamu.edu for general information. You can also contact the appropriate research compliance committee directors to get started:

While there is a cut-off date, you may still be able to complete other parts of your URS Thesis while you are awaiting approval. Talk to your faculty advisor about what portions of your project you can complete without research compliance approval. See current URS program deadlines.

 

You may need to postpone your project if you do not receive research compliance approval before the cut-off date. You may reapply to next year’s program if you are still eligible.

You may need to revise either the methods or scope of your project to avoid research compliance issues. Please talk to your faculty advisor about how you might restructure your project to achieve similar or even different research goals. Be advised that you need to contact the Research Compliance & Biosafety office on any changes that you make to a project that is already under review.

 

If you have started the process of obtaining research compliance approval, if you’re being added to an existing approval, or if you project appears to need some type of research compliance approval, LAUNCH: Undergraduate Research staff will send a copy of your proposal to the Research Compliance & Biosafety (RCB) office. Research Compliance & Biosafety will be in contact with you if any further information is needed from you or your faculty advisor.
LAUNCH: UGR does not require students in the URS Program to complete RCR training. However, RCR training is highly recommended because it covers research misconduct, data management, conflict of interest, responsible authorship, and other important information for those conducting research responsibly and ethically.

RCR training may be required for researchers involved in projects funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) or other organizations.

More information about RCR training can be found on the Research Compliance & Biosafety website: http://rcb.tamu.edu/more/otherprograms/rcr.


 

Withdrawing from the Program

If you miss a mandatory event, submission deadline, and/or revision deadline and you do not have a university-excused absence, or if you are determined to be in violation of the Aggie Honor Code, you will be removed from the program.

If you do not have research compliance approval by the cut-off date, you will be removed from the program. See current program deadlines.

If your faculty advisor does not approve your final thesis submission, you will be removed from the program. We encourage students to communicate throughout the year with their faculty advisors on the project and about revisions.

If you are using the URS program to fulfill requirements for Honors, Senior Design, course credit (including W credit), or another program, please consult with your faculty advisor about scholarship and/or graduation requirements.

Consult with your faculty advisor before removing yourself from the program. Once you and your faculty advisor have discussed your removal, please email ugr@tamu.edu.


 

Information for Faculty Advisors

URS faculty advisors must be:

  • Tenured or tenure-track faculty members at Texas A&M
  • Hold the title of instructor in a tenure-track appointment at Texas A&M
  • Hold non-tenure track appointments as Assistant, Associate, and Full Professors with modified titles such as research, adjunct, clinical, executive, instructional, senior, and visiting, AND must demonstrate significant contributions to scholarly research or creative work to be considered
A letter of recommendation from the department head addressing research qualifications is required for the non-tenure track positions listed above. Lecturers are not eligible to be URS faculty mentors, however, Lecturers may serve as secondary mentors with eligible URS faculty members as primary advisors.

Visit the Dean of Faculties website for guidelines on faculty titles.

LAUNCH: Undergraduate Research prefers that faculty advisors and students are present on campus during the course of the program, but we have had faculty successfully mentor students while on sabbatical, on a research trip, etc. Another option is to co-mentor with one faculty member present on main campus and the other advising remotely from a TAMU system campus or outside institution.

Above all, we want to make sure that both students and faculty advisors are comfortable with each other’s availability and access to resources during that time. Please read our policy on students attending study abroad above.

The Undergraduate Research Scholars Thesis is a high-impact practice and requires active participation from the faculty advisor.

First, faculty are required to review and approve the URS proposal in the Scholars Thesis Submittal System (STSS) and agree to advise the student for the entire academic year (fall/spring).

Second, faculty advisors are required to review and accept all written content before approving the student’s final thesis and embargo selection in the Scholars Thesis Submittal System (STSS).

Faculty advisors do not submit installments or progress reports to the URS eCampus Community on behalf of their students.

Faculty advisors are also expected to:

  • Meet regularly with students
  • Discuss benchmarks
  • Guide students to effectively meet challenges
  • Expose students to research cultures and norms
  • Offer continuous feedback on research and writing skills
  • Advise students on public presentations, both venues and style
  • Teach students about ethical and professional behavior in research
  • Guide students through the process of obtaining research compliance approval (if necessary)
  • Maintain standards for learning outcomes that align with the QEP
  • Discuss potential research credit through 491 (0-3 credits) courses
  • Encourage students to submit to Explorations: the Texas A&M Undergraduate Journal and apply to the Undergraduate Research Ambassadors program.
  • Encourage students to apply to National Fellowships

No, the URS does not fund students in the program. The URS program has limited travel awards and poster vouchers available exclusively for students accepted into the URS program to fulfill the public presentation requirement.

However, if you are currently funding students or have students being funded in other areas you can still advise these students on a URS thesis.

The URS program follows university policy for absences and missed assignments. Students must provide a university-excused absence. See student rules at student-rules.tamu.edu.
This is a high-impact practice recognized by Texas A&M’s QEP. Be sure to highlight your mentoring activities with students on your annual reviews, and make your department chair and college aware of your involvement in undergraduate research activities. Remember you can even invite your students to assist with grant writing, attend conferences, and co-author publications with you.