Defining Undergraduate Research

Virginia Wesleyan University recognizes and supports many different kinds of student research. Indeed, the college embraces a developmental approach to research instruction that moves students from general research, to introductory research in a specific discipline, to advanced undergraduate research in a specific discipline.

Virginia Wesleyan University holds an annual Undergraduate Research Symposium every spring. This Symposium showcases the best student research from across the entire campus. Most Symposium projects represent advanced undergraduate research, as defined below.

Virginia Wesleyan's Undergraduate Research Program also provides support to students who conduct advanced undergraduate research. We offer support in the forms of research and conference grants. To qualify for research and conference grants, projects must meet the following criteria:

The research must be independent.

  • In collaboration with a faculty mentor, the student-researcher determines and defines the research problem.
  • Most research takes place within either a non-topical upper-level research seminar or an independent research course. If the research is conducted in a topical course, it must go beyond the boundaries of a topical course and the course material.
  • The research project should be qualitatively superior to or otherwise differentiated from other kinds of research activities required of students in majors/classes (i.e. literature reviews).

The research must involve a pre-graduate level project

  • It must be as original as possible within the limits of an undergraduate education.
  • It must identify and define an understudied research problem by surveying existing scholarly literature to which the student research contributes.
  • It must demonstrate an understanding of theory and methodology, as articulated by the conventions of the discipline.
  • The final project should be of high quality and suitable for presentation.
  • The final project may take the form of either a written paper or poster.