Become a GRC

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The Graduate Research Consultant (GRC) Program was developed to increase research opportunities for undergraduates in courses. OUR encourages and supports instructors who want to transform course projects or assignments into research projects. By research projects, we mean opportunities in which students use the methods of the discipline to pose questions, apply those methods in investigation, and communicate formally their findings to others. Since an important aspect of performing authentic research is disseminating the results, we ask that your course includes a mechanism for students to communicate their findings publicly; for example, via a class presentation, a poster session, a website, etc. So that faculty can develop, guide, and evaluate the research component, we compensate advanced graduate students (Graduate Research Consultants) to work with the instructor and the students during the concentrated period of the course when the students are planning, carrying out and communicating their research.

You can participate in the GRC program as the Graduate Research Consultant (GRC) for a specific undergraduate course. Since the individual faculty members find and select the GRC for their courses, you can encourage a faculty member in your department to submit a GRC course proposal for a new or existing course and offer to be the GRC for the course if the proposal is funded. In addition, you may register your interest with OUR and the GRC Program by submitting the online GRC Interest Form. This will place your name in the GRC Interest Database, where faculty may search for possible GRCs.

If you are the instructor of record for an undergraduate course and have been a GRC in a previous semester, you are eligible to apply for a GRC to assist you if you are planning a research experience as part of your course. Since the start of the program in 2003, a significant number of graduate students have participated as GRCs in the program. See GRC Program Statistics Summer 2014. An increasing number of those graduate students have begun to request GRCs for their courses to support research components they have developed for those courses.

A Graduate Research Consultant can provide faculty and classes invaluable support by guiding students through their research projects from beginning to end. They can help students learn particular research methodologies and be available for consultation throughout the semester. GRCs are expected to work 30 hours over the course of the semester and are paid $750 (beginning Fall 2008) through the Office for Undergraduate Research.

If you are selected to serve as a GRC, the faculty member will communicate your name to OUR staff. During the first month of the semester, you will receive a communication asking you to provide the information we need to process your stipend, which is paid in one lump sum payment in November or March. Please be aware that some fellowships and other funding sources do not permit recipients to engage in additional paid work; it is your responsibility to determine if you are able to receive funding as a GRC.

  • I wouldn’t have done the project without a GRC and in particular it worked very well to have his expertise in survey research because I’m not an expert on survey methods. So he was able to describe various scales and talk about different kinds of question in a way that I couldn’t have done. So I appreciated that.
    – Faculty member

There are several ways in which a GRC is different from a TA. The major difference is that a GRC “coaches” students, but does not grade their work. The GRC has extended knowledge in research methodology. Additionally, a GRC does not attend all of the class sessions. Instead, GRCs can be available for individual or group consultation outside of class hours or they might attend selected classes. In rare instances, a graduate student might serve as both a GRC and a TA, if the different roles in the course are clearly defined.

  • My experience as a GRC was exciting—to have a role in allowing students to develop their own field work…for me it was exciting to see how that might work and to see what kind of support you might need for that to be successful…it was rewarding for me. It was also challenging. It helped me to know, if I were to implement [a research component] in my own course in the future how I might go about structuring it.
    – Graduate Research Consultant
  • It was a great experience to work with undergrad students. It was fantastic to be able to see how the professor set up his class to include these group research projects. More than anything else, I saw a way of how to get undergrads involved in and excited about research.
    –Graduate Research Consultant
  • …I was really drawing on her [the GRC’s] expertise with having worked in this kind of project. Because I’m trained as a historian, I’m aware of a lot of methodologies, but I haven’t actually participated in—especially things that kind of bordered on empirical. She knows the literature a lot more in that regard. So it was invaluable to me to have somebody like that.
    –Faculty member
  • I think there’s always an advantage of having that graduate student/faculty collaboration on a class both for the role model potential and for somebody the students to feel there’s somebody else to go to besides the faculty member.
    –Faculty member

The GRC course examples provide details of how these courses were designed in several disciplines. You can also review the Database of GRC (Research-Exposure) Courses. Former GRCs who are instructors of record for an independent course and want to request a GRC, please see the GRC program for FAQs and an application.

Graduate Research Consultant Interest Form