Preparing for and Conducting SURF Research Projects

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This page is intended for students who have received funding for a Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF). If you wish to apply for a SURF, please read the overview and “Applying for a SURF.”

All SURF applicants will be notified about the status of their SURF applications on April 15. If you received funding for a SURF, there are additional steps you need to take to prepare for your research and fulfill the requirements of the SURF.

SURF Timeline

  1. Apply for an IRB or IRB extension (if necessary).
  2. Submit items on Checklist #1 by April 29.
  3. Prepare for your research summer.
  4. Receive first check around May 31.
  5. Conduct research for at least 20 hours a week for 9 weeks.
  6. Submit post-research review documents on Checklist #2 to OUR between August 6 and August 27.
  7. OUR staff review post-research documents from (6) and request necessary additions or edits.
  8. Receive your second check after post-research review documents have been approved (late September).
  9. Present at the Celebration of Undergraduate Research the following Spring and (optional) attend the fall reception to be honored for your research and talk to new students who are interested in research at Carolina.

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First payment & Checklist 1

Prior to beginning your work, we need the items listed below that constitute your program acceptance packet. Please follow the links below, complete the forms, obtain all necessary signatures, assemble your complete acceptance packet (this will include 3-6 forms depending on your project), and bring it to 221 Graham Memorial.

Most SURFs are paid in two installments, one at the beginning of the summer, and one at the end. In order to process your first payment, we must receive all required items listed below by April 29We will then notify UNC Accounting to process and mail your first check to the address that you provide on the Personal Data sheet. You should receive your first check by May 31.

Requirements:
  1. Award Acceptance and Personal Data Sheet (all projects)
  2. Waiver of liability form (all projects)
  3. IRB Approval (for projects involving Human Subjects): please provide a copy of the notification you receive from the IRB. We recognize that IRB approval may not be received by the 4/29 deadline for submitting your acceptance packet. In those cases, please submit the IRB determination as soon as you receive it by emailing it to Monica Richard at mrichard@email.unc.edu. Please note that we cannot release your fellowship payment without IRB approval.
  4. International travel liability waiver (for projects involving travel abroad). Please include a copy of your complete travel itinerary.
  5. Travel Contact Form (for projects involving travel abroad)
  6. Register with UNC’s global travel registry (for projects involving travel abroad)
  7. Photographs and Photo Releases. A signed photo and video release is required for every identifiable person in photographs that you provide in your final materials to OUR. As we require a photograph of you in your final project, you should submit your photo release now and make extra copies as necessary for your research.
Optional Items:
  1. Travel and Study Abroad Insurance
    Risk management Services provides a Travel and Study Abroad Insurance Program available to students, faculty and their families while traveling abroad. In the event of injury or sickness, this program facilitates and pays for their medical treatment while in the foreign country. Another program benefit includes medical evacuation services if there are not adequate medical facilities within close proximity. To obtain coverage, please contact Janet Hoernke, Risk Management Specialist, at janet_hoernke@unc.edu. This policy costs about $1/day. OUR highly recommends that students traveling internationally take advantage of this coverage.
  2. Student Internship Liability Insurance
    Risk Management Services provides a Student Internship Liability Insurance Program to campus departments in order to protect their interning students. Our student interns are put into professional settings and given professional responsibilities. However, in many situations, they may not have professional liability insurance protection. A student intern also can be subject to a malpractice claim. For more information, please contact Steve Kenny, Director of Risk Management Services (steve_kenny@unc.edu or 919-962-7360).
  3. Tax considerations
    Your award is a fellowship, it is NOT a payment for services. You will not receive a W-2, but you may receive a 1099-MISC from UNC-Chapel Hill reporting your fellowship. For more information, please consult IRS Publication 970.

Preparing for research

Now that you know you have received SURF funding, it’s time to expand on the plan you made in your proposal to ensure a smooth process.

Every SURF project is different. Working with your faculty advisor throughout the process is critical for a positive experience. Make sure that you and your advisor have a clear timeline, plans for communicating and checking in about your project, and expectations for when and how you will do your research.

You may need to get special training, learn to use equipment, or order materials. Doing these things before the summer starts will give you flexibility if something goes wrong. You don’t want your whole project thrown off if an archive is closed temporarily or a supply is backordered!

At the end of the Summer

You must submit the following documents to OUR to complete the terms of your research fellowship. Your final check will not be processed until all the documents have been received and approved. Follow the instructions carefully; documents that do not provide information in the required format and style will not be approved.

Send one email to our@unc.edu with the subject line “year program materials” (where “year”=current year and “program”=name of the fellowship, i.e., “2017 SURF materials”). Include items 1-4 as attachments and item 5 in the body of your message.

Each attached document should be saved with the following title format: “year_Lastname_Firstname_SURFitemname.” For example, “2017_Liu_James_SURFreport” or “2017_Khairat_Omar_SURFpresentation.”

All materials must be submitted between August 6 and August 27. Checks for projects that have been fully approved will be disbursed beginning on September 27. At that point you may pick up your check or we will send it to you.

Please note: Checks will not be released until these 6 items have ALL been approved, not just received, by OUR. In many cases, the Final Report and/or PowerPoint requires editing before approval, so it is in your best interest to submit your materials early to receive prompt payment.

  1. Final Report
    Prepare a reflective, one-page summary of the work you accomplished with your program’s support. We want to know both what you did and what you learned about research and yourself.In a narrative format, please answer:

    • What type of research activities you engaged in this summer?
    • What types of skills have you learned from your experience?
    • How has this research experience affected your interests and career goals?

    This should be submitted as a Microsoft Word file (1-inch margins, 12pt. Times New Roman font, single-spaced). Please include your name and the title at the top of your reflection.

  2. PowerPoint
    Prepare a three-slide PowerPoint presentation designed to be understood by a GENERAL AUDIENCE (i.e., your friends and family, or high school seniors preparing to enter Carolina), which we will post on the OUR website. Use this format:

    • Slide #1:
      • Project title
      • Student’s name and major
      • Faculty advisor and faculty’s Dept.
      • Photo(s). These photos are used for publicity about students’ research. The photo should provide a clear view of the student’s face. In addition, the photo should help portray the student’s research. For example, a student researching water quality in the Neuse river might show himself or herself with an image of the river in the background; a student studying in a historical archive might take a picture of herself or himself in or in front of the archive; or a student researching dance performance might show himself or herself dancing. If this is a joint project with another student then you both may be in the photo with a caption indicating the name of each student.
        If your project makes it difficult to take an action shot that shows your face and your research at the same time, you may submit two photos: one showing your research in progress, and a second photo for a headshot.
    • Slide #2:
      Make sure to use vocabulary appropriate for a general audience. This is not intended to be the same kind of powerpoint you would present at a meeting of people in your field or to your advisor.

      • What is your research question?
      • Why does your research question matter?
    • Slide #3:
      As with Slide #2, you must make sure your vocabulary and phrasing would be understood by the average person. Avoid jargon, unspecified abbreviations, and subject-specific terminology (unless you define it on the slide).

      • What are your results?
      • Why are your results important to your scholarly or research community?
      • Why are your results important to a general audience?

    To get an idea of what we need, you can view past projects elsewhere on this website.

  3. Evaluation Form
    Please complete the evaluation and attach it as a Microsoft Word file.
  4. Photographs and Photo Releases
    Complete the Photo and Video Release and attach it as a Microsoft Word file. A signed photo release form is required for every identifiable person in photographs that you provide in your final materials.
  5. Address to use for your final check
    When you submit items 1-4 to our@unc.edu, please include your name and the address we should use to mail your final check in the body of your email message.
  6. Faculty approvals
    Ask your faculty advisor to review your project summary and PowerPoint prior to submitting them. We strongly recommend that you send them the description of the requirements listed above along with your materials. Before we can issue your final check, we need your faculty advisor to send an email message to our@unc.edu with the current year and name of your program and “approval” (i.e. 20xx SURF approval) in the subject line. They must include the following text in the body of the message: “I have reviewed __________ (student’s name) Project Summary and PowerPoint and I approve of the content. The PowerPoint summary is suitable for display for general audiences on the OUR website.”
How Your Materials Will Be Used

The PowerPoint you submit will be posted publicly online. If your mentor would like any results to be withheld for any amount of time, please let us know, and we will not post your PowerPoint online until given permission. (We need to be notified of this when you send your materials.) We will also pull anonymous quotes from the summary and evaluation for promotional materials and for donors.

Optional Items
  1. Carolina Research Scholar Program
    This program offers several ways for undergraduates to contribute to a community of research, scholarship and creative performance at UNC-Chapel Hill. Participants will be invited to receive appropriate training and serve as peer advisors. Participants will also be invited to register for the OUR Speaker’s Bureau and talk about their experiences during Sophomore Reorientation and other campus venues. Students meeting program requirements will receive the designation “Carolina Research Scholar” on their transcripts. To learn more about the program, including instructions on how to register, please visit the CRS Program page.
  2. OUR Fall Reception
    We hold a reception in your honor early in the Fall. We hope you will visiting with other students who conducted research over the summer as well as faculty, administrators, and some of the donors who are essential to the program. We will be sending more details and the invitation by email after classes start.