Multidisciplinary Research Requirement Guidelines

The multidisciplinary requirement in a student's core curriculum may be met by the completion of a course, additional major, a minor or secondary education requirements. However, the College of Science challenges students to think beyond the classroom in meeting this important requirement by involving themselves in preapproved research projects, internships or an entrepreneurship program project which involves a multidisciplinary approach to examining a problem or issue. The opportunity to work and learn in a multidisciplinary environment is an invaluable experience for all future scientists. The depth and breadth of knowledge gained through the experience of thinking about a problem from a divergent disciplinary view is a required skill of all successful researchers and scientists.

The following instructions outline the approval process for research projects. Students may also contact their academic advisors to discuss use of an experience that is outside the guidelines listed below.

Qualifying a Research Project

Following are guidelines that should be used by the student, the Faculty Research Advisor, and the student’s academic advisor in determining (in advance) the suitability of the research project.

  1. The level of effort must, at its minimum, be comparable to taking a three credit-hour upper division (300/400) multidisciplinary course.

  2. The project should focus on a specific science-based problem or issue that requires a multidisciplinary approach. The multiple disciplines employed must be clearly identified. For example, an appropriate multidisciplinary project analyzing DNA sequences for factors related to a certain disease might require the disciplines of genetics, statistics, and computer science. On the other hand, use of “canned” programs to obtain results without mastery of the underlying science may not be a suitable multidisciplinary project.

  3. Projects requiring a multidisciplinary team are desirable. A good example would be a Computer Science major who works in a Biology group and applies CS experience to a bioinformatics project, actively collaborating with biology students and others to tackle the project.

  4. Learning other disciplines is essential. For example, a biology major may do a multidisciplinary research project for a biology professor, for example, if it entails mastering the computer science or statistics essential for tackling a bioinformatics problem. The process needs to be explicitly described, e.g. the other disciplines are learned from collaborators in other departments, with the results to be documented in a paper evaluated by the faculty advisor.

Documentation Process

Students should plan to complete the approval process in advance of an experience. Post-experience approvals will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

 

Approval Process

Students will use the following process to request pre-approval and final approval of their multidisciplinary experiences.

 

Pre-approval Stage

Student:

  1. Meet with your academic advisor to discuss using a research experience to meet the Multidisciplinary experience requirement; review the approval process and how to complete required documentation.
  2. Identify a Research Supervisor who will assess and evaluate your experience. 
  3. Complete the Experiential Learning Contract with your Research Supervisor.
  4. Submit the Experiential Learning Contract to : Science Undergraduate Advising Office, Mathematical Sciences building , Room 231, 150 N. University St., West Lafayette, IN 47907-2067 or email to experientialcontracts@purdue.edu.

Research/Internship Evaluator:

  1. Sign the Experiential Learning Contract.  
  2. Complete the Multidisciplinary Research Preapproval Form. This form is used to document and explain how the student’s experience it will meet the multidisciplinary requirement. Please be thorough in this description. Click here to view a sample Supervisor Statement.
  3.  Submit the Multidisciplinary Preapproval Form to: Science Undergraduate Advising Office, Mathematical Sciences building, Room 231,150 N University St, MA 231, West Lafayette, IN 47907-2067 or email to: experientialcontracts@purdue.edu.

Faculty Representative:

A Faculty Representative will review preapproval documentation to determine if the student’s experience has the potential to meet the Multidisciplinary experience requirement. Notice of approval or denial of the experience will be sent to the student's Purdue email address. The student’s academic advisor will also be contacted with the pre-approval decision.

 

Final Approval Stage

The following documents must be submitted for final approval of the experience:

Student:

Complete a Research Summary (minimum 4 pages). Your submission should address the following areas:

  1. Clearly describe the research problem being addressed.
  2. Explain why a multidisciplinary approach was needed for this problem.
  3. Describe the multidisciplinary approaches actually employed - collaborators from other disciplines, self-mastery of new discipline(s), application of student's prior expertise to a new discipline, etc.
  4. Describe progress in learning a new discipline.
  5. Summarize the research results.

Submit the Research Summary to:

  1. Research Evaluator.  Your evaluator will use your summary to complete their summary in the Multidisciplinary Final Approval Form.
  2. Science Undergraduate Advising Office, Mathematical Sciences Building, Room 231,150 N University St, MA 231, West Lafayette, IN 47907-2067 or email to: experientialcontracts@purdue.edu.

Research Evalutor:

Complete the Multidisciplinary Research Final Approval Form. Please indicate concurrence or non-concurrence with the student’s assessment of their research experience and the meeting of the multidisciplinary requirement by review of their Research Summary. Submit the completed form to: Science Undergraduate Advising Office, Mathematical Sciences building, Room 231,150 N University St, MA 231, West Lafayette, IN 47907-2067.

Faculty Representative:

A Faculty Representative will review the Research Summary and Research Supervisor’s Final Approval Form to determine if the student’s experience has met the Multidisciplinary requirement. Notice of final approval or denial will sent to the student’s Purdue email address. The student’s academic advisor will also be contacted with the final decision.

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