How do I get credit for research?

There are three courses that provide credit for lab research during the academic year. You should enroll in one of the following courses, depending on your class year, whether you want degree or major credit, and the time & scope of your independent project. See item #6 on the checklist to determine which course you should enroll in. 

  1. Guided Research (BIOL BC3597): This is a variable-credit one-semester course open to students beginning in their first year, which can be taken during any Fall or Spring semester. Enrollment in this course is recommended for students who wish to receive degree credit for unpaid research. This course does not fulfill any Biology major requirements. 
     
  2. Guided Research & Seminar (BIOL BC3591-BC3592): This is a year-long 8-credit course (4 credits/semester) open to students beginning in their sophomore year. Enrollment can fulfill up to two upper-level lab courses for the Biology major, which requires three upper-level labs. This course is only available as a Fall to Spring sequence; as a requirement for this course, you must work on the same project 9-10 hours/week for both semesters. By the end of the year, you will write a scientific paper and give a poster presentation of your work at the Barnard Biology Symposium. Research conducted while enrolled in this course may not be paid. 

    Seniors enrolled in this course will need to take BIOL BC3590 Senior Seminar in order to fulfill their capstone requirement. 
     
  3. Senior Thesis Research & Seminar (BIOL BC3593-BC3594): This is a year-long 8-credit course (4 credits/semester), which can only be taken during a student's senior year to fulfill the senior capstone requirement. Seniors enrolled in Senior Thesis Research & Seminar may not concurrently enroll in Guided Research & Seminar (though they may have taken it in their sophomore or junior years to fulfill two upper-level labs). As a requirement for this course, you must work on the same project 9-10 hours/week for both semesters. By the end of the year, you will write a scientific paper and orally present your work at the Barnard Biology Symposium. Research conducted while enrolled in this course may not be paid. 

Note: you cannot get credit for doing research during the summer - therefore, securing funding for summer research is an excellent alternative! 


Student Checklist for Research Project Approval 

Use the following checklist to determine whether you have met the requirements for enrollment in either Guided Research (BIOL BC3597) or either of the year-long courses: Guided Research & Seminar (BIOL BC3591-3592) or Senior Thesis Research & Seminar (BIOL BC3593-3594). Once you have ensured that your project is appropriate for enrollment in any of these courses, fill out a Project Approval Form.  The Project Approval Form is due before the end of registration for classes. Approval for either year-long course must be submitted by the April deadline preceding the year you intend to enroll, or before the end of program planning for the semester during which you are enrolling in Guided Research (BIOL BC3597).  

1. Have you found a research mentor?

You may work in a faculty lab here at Barnard or in a lab at another institution. Once you have found a mentor, you should meet to discuss potential projects. Your mentor will likely suggest projects to you, but may also seek your input in making a final choice.

2. If your lab is not at Barnard, have you found an internal advisor?

If your lab is outside the Barnard Biology Department, you will need a faculty member within the department to serve as your internal advisor. Your internal advisor will ideally work in an area of research that is similar to your lab. For a list of faculty research areas, see: https://biology.barnard.edu/faculty

3. Can you meet the scheduling requirements for your project?

Your project may have specific scheduling demands, which you should discuss along with your availability with your research mentor. You may need to be in lab for many consecutive hours to complete a particular experiment, or you may occasionally need to check in on experiments at odd hours such as early mornings, nights, or weekends. Be certain that you are able to fit in the specific scheduling requirements for your project or make arrangements with your mentor that you both agree on.

4. Do you have transportation to your lab?

If your lab is not on campus, do you have a reliable form of transportation? Have you budgeted transportation time into your schedule? Transit time does not count toward research time.

Also consider transportation when discussing scheduling requirements (see #3, above). Be sure to discuss your mentor’s expectations and your availability, and make arrangements that you both agree on.

5. Do you need additional training/approvals before beginning a project?

If you will be working with human subjects, live vertebrate animals, or dangerous materials including radioactive or biohazardous materials, you will need to complete training sessions before beginning work in any lab. At Barnard/Columbia trainings and approvals are offered through the Barnard or Columbia University Institutional Review Board (IRB), the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC), and the Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) office, respectively. Check with your research mentor to determine what approvals you will need, and for instruction on how to sign up for training sessions. Please note that approval for work with human subjects can take up to 6 months, so plan accordingly.

6. What course should you enroll in? 

Though you may already be working in your lab as a summer intern, you can only receive credit for unpaid research during the academic year.

  • If you would like to receive degree credit for research without it counting for the major, enrollment in Guided Research (BIOL BC3597) may begin as early as the fall semester of your first year. Because there is no seminar component to this course, there is no requirement that it be taken in a Fall to Spring sequence nor that it be taken for a full year.

Students who wish to receive credit for their research and have it count toward the major should enroll either in Guided Research & Seminar (BIOL BC3591-3592) or Senior Thesis Research & Seminar (BIOL BC3593-3594) depending on their class year and the major requirement they are looking to fulfill. Both of these year-long courses may only be taken in a Fall to Spring sequence, and therefore, enrollment cannot begin in the Spring semester.

  • You may enroll in BIOL BC3591-3592 as early as your sophomore year and as late as your senior year. Enrollment in this course will substitute up to two lab courses.  

    Seniors who enroll in this course must additionally take BIOL BC3590 Senior Seminar in order to fulfill their capstone requirement. 
     
  • Seniors enrolling in BIOL BC3593-3594 cannot also be enrolled in BIOL BC3591-3592 at the same time. However, it is fine to continue research begun in the same lab where you conducted research for BIOL BC3591-3592 if you took this course in your sophomore or junior year.

    This year-long course will satisfy the capstone requirement for majors.

7. Scope and Time Requirements for a) BIOL BC3591-3592 & BIOL BC3593-3594 or b) BIOL BC3597

a) Does your project meet the requirements for BIOL BC3591-3592 or BIOL BC3593-3594? 

Your Barnard research mentor (if your lab is at Barnard) or internal advisor (if your lab is elsewhere) must approve your planned research before you enroll in either year-long course. Your project must be appropriate in terms of (i) scope and (ii) time requirement for a 4-credit course both semesters.

(i) Is the scope of the project appropriate?

Your project can be in any area of biological research, including clinical research, but it must aim toward generating original data. In addition, you should be contributing substantially to your project. This does not mean that you should take the lead on it; you will likely be working with another lab member who leads the project (a PI, grad student, postdoc, or research technician), but it is important that you spend the majority of your lab time doing experiments for this project.

By the end of the year, students enrolled in BIOL BC3591-3592 will write a scientific paper and give a poster presentation of their work at the Barnard Biology Symposium. Students enrolled in BIOL BC3593-3594 will write a scientific paper and orally present their work at the Barnard Biology Symposium. 

(ii) Is the time requirement met for the project?

In addition to time spent preparing for the seminar, you should plan to spend 9-10 hours/week in your lab conducting research both semesters. Transit time to your lab does not count toward these 9-10 hours/week of research time. 

b) Does your project meet the requirements for BIOL BC3597? 

Your Barnard research mentor (if your lab is at Barnard) or internal advisor (if your lab is elsewhere) must approve your planned research before you enroll in either year-long course. Your project must be appropriate in terms of (i) scope and (ii) time requirement for the number of credits in which you are enrolled.

(i) Is the scope of the project appropriate?

Your project can be in any area of biological research, including clinical research, but it must aim toward generating original data. In addition, you should be contributing substantially to your project. This does not mean that you should take the lead on it; you will likely be working with another lab member who leads the project (a PI, grad student, postdoc, or research technician), but it is important that you spend the majority of your lab time doing experiments for this project.

(ii) Is the time requirement met for the project? 

You may enroll in BIOL BC3597 for between 1-4 credits per semester. As a rule of thumb, you should be spending approximately 3 hours per week per credit on your research project. Transit time to your lab does not count toward research time. 

8. Have you submitted the Project Approval Form, signed up for the appropriate course, and for the appropriate number of credits (BIOL BC3597 only)?

Once you have planned your project with your mentor, and discussed it with your internal advisor (if your lab is off campus), you should complete and submit a Project Approval Form.  Your digital signature will confirm that your project fulfills the above requirements and a copy will be made available to your internal advisor & the Associate Chair. Project Approval Forms are due before the end of registration at the start of each semester (for BIOL BC3597) or before the end of registration in the spring prior to enrollment (for BIOL BC3591-3592 or 3593-3594). 

Be sure to add the appropriate course to your program in myBarnard. A digital copy of this form will also be made available to your major advisor so they can approve your program. 

  • For BIOL BC3597 only: Each Barnard faculty member has their own section of Guided Research. Be sure to add the appropriate course & section to your program in myBarnard. You should sign up for the section assigned to your Barnard Research Mentor. If your lab is outside of Barnard, you must have an Internal Advisor and will sign up in that advisor’s section. 

    Once your advisor has approved your program in myBarnard, BIOL BC3597 will appear on your program for 1 credit. If you are taking BIOL BC3597 for more than one credit, use the dropdown menu to adjust the number of credits in your program before the end of the program planning period.