Earning undergraduate research credit

Students planning on participating in on- or off-campus research may obtain the credits towards their degree. 135 hours is the minimum number of hours required to receive three credits. Do not be surprised if you have to work more than the required hours (within reason) to accomplish your goals. Typically, a written and/or oral presentation will be part of the goals of the internship.

  • One credit = 45 hours of unpaid work. (average of 3 hours a week over a fifteen-week semester)
  • Two credits = 90 hours of unpaid work (average of 6 hours a week over a fifteen-week semester)
  • Three credits = 135 hours of unpaid work (average of 9 hours a week over a fifteen-week semester)

Listed below are the types of research credits available.

BIOL 298

  • Pre-requisite: freshmen and sophomores only
  • Credit load: 1-3 credits per semester for a total of 8 credits

This course is designed for students who have not yet taken BIOL 192 (General Biology lab) or equivalent. This type of study assumes that most of the intern's duties will be closely supervised and may be very repetitive in nature. The intern will be required to turn in a midterm and final evaluation and a mini report at the end of the semester.

BIOL 491

  • Pre-requisite: sophomores and up, Biology 192 or equivalent required
  • Credit load: 1-3 credits per semester for a total of 8 credits

This course assumes that the student will be working under the close supervision of a faculty member, technician, graduate student or post-doc. The intern is usually working on another person's project. The intern will turn in a midterm and final evaluation each semester, as well as a final "half" scientific paper the first semester (see below for more info). Interns retaking the course can turn in a full scientific paper at the end of the second semester. 

BIOL 492

  • Pre-requisite: junior and seniors only, Biology 192 or equivalent required
  • Credit load: 1-3 credits per semester for one semester

This course is for interns who are either working on original research and have their own project OR are given a large amount of autonomy while working on someone else's project. The intern will be required to turn in a midterm and final evaluation each semester. A "half" scientific paper is required in the first semester. If the student chooses to remain on the project a second semester, a full scientific paper can be completed at the end of the second semester.

BIOL 496/497

  • Pre-requisite: Seniors only, acceptance into the Biology Degree with Distinction Program required

Students are encouraged to apply for the Biology Degree with Distinction program at the end of their sophomore year and must submit a senior thesis proposal no later than the end of their junior year. In this course, the student will write a thesis and present a research seminar to Department of Biology faculty, students and guests during the Biology Honors Day. Learn more about this course and the Biology with Distinction classification by visiting the Biology with Distinction page.

Biology with Distinction

Steps to get started

Once you have found a research opportunity, sit down with your research supervisor to discuss what your goals will be for the semester. Once determined, you much complete a research agreement that is to be turned into the Department of Biology.

Note: If you are participating in paid research, research off-campus or research with another department, meet with your advisor or the Biology Independent Study Coordinator, Dr. Josh Stevenson, to discuss the requirements for Biology internship credits and what type of projects and writing assignments will be acceptable for academic credit.

Research agreement

You must turn in a reseach agreement by the start of the semester in which you are seeking internship credits to the Department of Biology (FA 147). You may create your own agreement or pick up a copy of the research agreement at the Department of Biology (FA 147).  The agreement should include the following:

  • Your name
  • the course you wish to receive credit for (see above)
  • the semester in which you wish to receive credit
  • the number of credits you are pursuing
  • A brief description of the project to be completed, including laboratory and/or field research methodology and experimental design, how the final grade will be determined, dates materials are due, and how many hours of unpaid work the project will require
  • Your signature, date and contact information
  • Your research supervisors signature, date and contact information

Once turned in to the Department of Biology office (FA 147), the office staff person will give you the call number needed to sign up for the credits. Use this call number to sign up for the appropriate course and number of credits on MyNEVADA. Biology students completing an internship during the summer may have to wait until the fall semester to obtain credit. Talk to the Biology Department about this issue if you are a graduating senior.

Recommended evaluations and writing assignments

Students participated in research for academic credit may be required to complete one or more of the following evaluations and writing assignments

  • Midterm Evaluation

    A midterm evaluation is not graded. This is a chance for the student intern to meet with his/her supervisor in order to get feedback on strengths, weaknesses and where improvements can be made. Send your supervisor the midterm evaluation form to fill out 1-3 days before a one-on-one meeting. The meeting should include a discussion of progress and a realistic evaluation of the intern's goals for the remaining portion of the semester. The midterm evaluation form should be turned into the Biology Internship Coordinator before the midterm semester drop date.

    Undergraduate Research Midterm Evaluation

  • Final Evaluation

    The final evaluation form is designed to be filled out by the supervisor after a one-on-one meeting at the end of the semester. The online form, when submitted, will be delivered directly to the Department of Biology. The research supervisor will also receive a copy of the submitted data to keep for their records. If the intern turns in a hard copy of the final evaluation, it should be delivered in a sealed envelope with the supervisor's signature across the seal.

    • The final evaluation can affect an intern's grade. A student receiving a 2 or 1 on any portion of the evaluation can have their final grade lowered by half or one grade point, respectively.
    • Any student not completing the total number of hours will either be given an incomplete, a lower grade, or an "F" in the course. This will be determined by the supervisor and the Biology advisor or Internship Coordinator.

    Final Evaluation Form

  • Undergraduate Research Writing Assignments by course

    BIOL 298

    Student research interns could be expected to complete a mini paper that consists of (1) a description of the internship and the intern's accomplishments, and (2) a commentary on how this internship affected the intern's decisions about future career choices. The paper would be at least 2 pages long and is graded by the supervisor and by the Biology Internship Coordinator, for internships outside of the Biology Department.

    BIOL 491 and 492

    Student research interns are expected to complete a scientific paper at least 7 pages long. Alternatively, a student preparing for a senior thesis project could prepare a detailed proposal of the planned thesis research project. The paper will be graded by the student's research supervisor and by the Biology Internship Coordinator, for internships outside of the Biology Department.

    In the first semester, students are expected to turn in a "half" scientific paper. This paper would typically consist of the following:

    1. Introduction: The introduction is a way of demonstrating your knowledge of the project and explaining why you conducted this research. It is recommended that the introduction follow the same format used in Biology 192. We call this format "the upside-down pyramid" where the writer discusses the topic from general to specific by first provides background information on the topic and then eventually leading her reader into a short introduction of the intern's project. The final paragraph should include a short description of why you are conducting this research and can include a statement about the hypothesis.
    2. Methods: This section lets the interns demonstrate knowledge of what they are doing. It should include a detailed description of the protocols the interns are conducting in their own words. Many Cell and Molecular Biologists will reference general protocols instead of giving a detailed description of the procedures. We suggest that the intern include a complete description of the protocols so they can demonstrate a working knowledge of the procedures and can describe them using proper scientific vocabulary.
    3. Results and Discussion: These two sections should be combined in the half scientific paper format and should include initial data (raw or summarized) and a preliminary interpretation of that data. The length of this section may vary depending on the intern's progress.
    4. Literature Cited: At least 5 outside references should be cited within the paper and included in this section.

    491 and 492 interns completing their second semester are expected to submit a "full" scientific paper. This paper typically consists of the following:

    1. Abstract: This is the first section of a scientific paper and it acts as a summary of the work. All abstracts should be short (250 words or less) and stand on their own so the reader can quickly obtain an overview of the work without reading the paper. Key elements of an abstract include a few sentences that concisely state what you did, why you did it (the importance of your research), how you did it (very briefly with few details), your results, and your conclusions. This means that your abstract will have pieces from your Introduction, Methods, Results, and Discussion sections. It is best to write the abstract after you have completed all other sections of the paper.
    2. Introduction: (see description above). The existing introduction from the previous paper may need to be updated.
    3. Methods: (see description above). Existing methods from the previous paper may need to be updated.
    4. Results: Should include a summary of the data but no conclusions should be drawn in this section.
    5. Discussion: This is the section where the intern interprets and discusses his/her results. The last part of this section should address the original question stated in the introduction and some conclusions should be drawn from this work. An expansion on the discussion section can include an interpretation of how this work has contributed to the overall knowledge in this scientific area.
    6. Literature Cited: At least 8 outside references should be cited within the paper and included in this section.

    BIOL 596-497

    Students participating in the Biology with Distinction program must write a thesis and present a seminar. More information can be found on the Biology Degree with Distinction page.

Still have questions?

Biology undergraduate research independent study coordinator:
Dr. Josh Stevens, jstevens@unr.edu

If you are conducting an independent study project with a faculty member who is in a different department or an off-campus internship, special arrangements must be made with Dr. Josh Stevenson, jstevenson@unr.edu.  If you or your independent study supervisor has any questions, please contact the Biology Office at (775) 784-6188 to receive more information.