Summer Research Assistantships (SRA)

What are Summer Research Assistantships?

Engaging with faculty research is one way undergraduates may enrich their SMU experience and extend their knowledge beyond the classroom.

Research activity during the summer is an excellent way for an undergraduate researcher to make focused progress on a research project. The Summer Research Assistantship (SRA) program is designed to financially assist students to pursue these passions in order to lift students up to the height of their academic research goals.

The window for submission of the SRA application starts after Spring Break and closes on May 1. See How to Apply for the application process!

Here's how it Works:

Each assistantship involves a student working closely with a faculty member. Students can participate in existing research, or explore new avenues of study. The SRA program supports assistantships for students to pursue their research interests up to 29 hours per week, from May 11 to August 16, 2019. Students are paid hourly on a biweekly basis, with a cost share of up to $15.00 per hour with another source of research funding, such as a department/school/research grant. Payment beyond $15.00 can be paid through this other source of funding.

Faculty mentors and students should read SRA Program Guidelines for more information on SRA's, as well as tips from Engaged Learning on how to foster a good student-mentor relationship. For questions about the SRA program and how it functions, please contact us at engagedlearning@smu.edu.

The selection of SRA is a competitive process. To be considered, the student should prepare a SRA Proposal of 500 words minimum. Students are encouraged to seek editorial comment from their faculty mentors, but the proposal should be written by the student. The proposal should include:

SRA Proposal

  • Clear title that describes the specific project
  • Overall motivation behind the research
  • Background information about the broader context of the research in the chosen field
  • Methodology, technique, or practice needed in the research
  • Description of specific research to be carried out by the student
  • How the student will benefit from performing research at this intense level, with particular emphasis on the role of the proposed SRA funding
    • Potential benefits include the connection of the proposed project to the student's career goals

Additionally, the student should acquire:

  • A brief, one-page letter of reference from the faculty mentor supporting the student's research
  • A written agreement from the student that they will write a 1,500-2000 word SRA Report of their research experience at the end of the summer, as well as participate in Research Days

A panel of SMU faculty will review the submitted applications. Proposals selected by the faculty panel will be approved for funding.

End of Summer SRA Report:

Final reports are expected of all SRA students. These reports should be written by the student, and students are encouraged to seek editorial comment from their faculty mentor. The reports should be written to satisfy the following criteria:

  • Title
  • Abstract (200-500 words) which should address:
    • Research focus
    • Research methods (ex: experimental laboratory work, case studies, field studies, questionnaires, etc.)
    • Brief description of the results found through the stated research method
    • Main conclusions based on the results
  • Background information
  • Motivation which should address:
    • Explanation of research problem being addressed
    • Hypothesis about results of study
  • Methodology
  • Student's main contributions to the research project
  • Recommendations for future work
  • Reflective component which should address:
    • What the student learned from this experience
    • How the experience will translate into their career plans or expectations
  • Relevant images, diagrams, graphs and other figures

Based on these criteria, as well as overall writing quality, each report will be judged by a faculty panel. Suitable reports will be referred for possible publication in the Journal of Undergraduate Research (JoUR). Students who author the highest quality reports will be invited to present their results throughout the school year. This review and selection process is highly competitive. Students invited to present their research will earn the distinction of Summer Research Fellow (SRF).

Want to pursue student-driven research? Check out Engaged Learning Fellowships!