FAQs for Research Mentors

Document that describes the benefits of undergraduate research for faculty. Download the entire faculty bookmark document to the left.

How can an undergraduate student support my research?

Undergraduates have supported scholarly research in a variety of ways. For example, you may serve as a mentor to a student conducting an independent study or individual research project on a topic the overlaps with your own research. Also, the student could be a contributing member of your research group/lab alongside graduate students and postdocs. This document describes ways to engage students in your research and the benefits to you and your program.

Do research mentors have to serve as a research advisor if a student asks?

No, this is entirely optional unless it is already required or expected by your academic unit.

I have an opportunity for a student to assist with research, how do I advertise this position to students?

You may seek out students in a variety of ways. The most immediate way is to post your position to OURConnect, an online application system where research opportunities are posted and students can search and apply. One approach is to use the various programs that support undergraduate research on campus. Examples include the Discovery Park Undergraduate Research Internship Program (DURI) – interdisciplinary; Margo Katherine Wilke Undergraduate Research Internship (Wilke) – Liberal Arts; Cancer Prevention Internship (CPIP) – interdisciplinary cancer research; Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships (SURF) – Engineering during summer. See Search Opportunities for a more complete list. Another approach is to reach out to the strong students from your classes/interactions and those of others in your unit. Such students may be looking for opportunities to go beyond the boundaries of the courses offered and to experience research first hand.

What options exist for students who wish to receive academic credit for their research?

Most academic units offer courses entitled, “Research” or “Individual Study,” using them as a means to obtain academic credit for research. Typically the credit hours for these course listings are flexible so you and the student can agree on the appropriate level of credit based on the level of time commitment expected of the student.

How many hours per week should a student work per credit hour of research?

The expectation is normally in the range of 3 to 5 hours per week per credit hour, similar to the time required for lab or studio courses. You should discuss your expectations with the student.

What is work-study and how can I pay my students using these funds?

The federal work-study (FWS) program is administered through the Division of Financial Aid and is a financial aid award offered to students who have demonstrated financial need as determined by their answers on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Students covered by FWS will have 70% of their wages covered by the program and 30% will come from your budget.

Students you hire for research and non-research work could be eligible, but financial need is a protected status of students. Therefore, you can ask students if they qualify for federal work-study after you hire them. If they do qualify, they can complete the form on the FWS website and have you submit it to your student payroll administrator. Questions about FWS should be directed to the Division of Financial Aid or your business office.

Is there a minimum training expectation for undergraduate researchers across campus?

Yes, Purdue reaffirms its commitment to research integrity and responsible conduct of research by implementing a new Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) standard (S20), effective July 1, 2020. This training standard applies to faculty, staff, trainees, postdocs, graduate students, and undergraduate students who design and conduct research and/or report and publish research outcomes. The training has two components: (1) a core online module (typically, CITI), and (2) customized, field-specific discussions, workshops, or seminars organized and administered by each unit. For more information, please see Purdue's Responsible Conduct of Research website

If I supervise undergraduate researchers, will I get credit for this work in tenure, promotion, and merit-based salary decisions, and in decisions about teaching assignments?

This varies among academic units. Mentoring undergraduate researchers is generally encouraged and appreciated and should be listed on your CV. It is best to consult with your Head and the Primary Committee in your unit about expectations at your career stage.

I run a summer research program where I manage an application system or recruit from outside of Purdue. Is there support for how to create or run this type of program?

Many faculty and staff members lead summer undergraduate research programs through the NSF REU program, summer fellowship programs, departmental internships, etc. You can find information on logistics and how to get information on the summer research program leaders website. We also support the creation of summer research programs.

I mentor my students in a remote environment. Are there online tools to help with communication that I can use?

There are many platforms that can be used to communicate with your students and many are free. Below is a sample list of free options.


  1. Slack - This provides instant messaging and file transfers. This is useful for text-based communication.
  2. WebEx - This is a video meeting room program that is supported by Purdue. This is useful for audio/visual communication.
  3. Flipgrid - This tool allows team members to easily upload short videos for feedback and project updates.

Project Management

  1. Trello - This list- and card-based system helps projects be grouped in many ways and offers an easy-to-view dashboard.
  2. Asana - This tool is free for up to 15 collaborators and would be ideal for small research groups. The free version is only based on the number of collaborators and can be updated to match the current makeup of your group.

Working Together

  1. Google Docs - A commonly used platform, but is not supported by Purdue.
  2. Microsoft OneDrive - This platform is supported by Purdue and is integrated with MS Outlook.