At the end of the class, the student has
- learned various practical research skills
- acquired knowledge of the contents of ongoing research
- acquired hands-on experience in carrying out academic research
- learned to report on research findings in oral and written form.
The course is not a taught class. Students learn in the course of their work as an intern in a research team. The supervisors, in consultation with the student and with the coordinators of the Research Master program, decide at the beginning what work needs to be undertaken in order to justify the 9 ECTS. An important consideration is that the work needs to target the student’s further career chances: the student needs to learn useful skills and will preferably work towards output that helps building an academic resume, such as a conference presentation or a published paper.
The course is scheduled for the first and second blocks of the second year (3 ECTS in the first and 6 in the second block), but in actual practice the supervisor and student work out an optimal time schedule, taking account the timing of the work that needs to be done and the availability of the various people involved. This means that Lab Rotation can start earlier than the first block, end later than the second, or be condensed into a shorter period. In case the internship is a continuation of Lab Rotation 1, student and supervisor are free to plan the activities as a relatively continuous work package.
The student submits a portfolio containing a description of the work that has been done and the output. Appendices contain samples of the work. Ideally this contains a presentation (e.g. in the form of a Powerpoint presentation) and/or a written report (e.g. in the form of a submitted or draft paper), but the nature of the work may necessitate various kinds of output. The portfolio is graded by the supervisor and a second reader who is not part of the same team.
Grading criteria Lab Rotation 2
The student submits a portfolio containing a description of the work that has been done and the output. Appendices contain samples of the work. Ideally this contains a presentation (e.g. in the form of a Powerpoint presentation) and/or a written report (e.g. in the form of a submitted or draft paper), but the nature of the work may necessitate various kinds of output. Because of this variability, the guidelines for grading are kept relatively abstract. The portfolio is graded by the supervisor or by another senior member of the team, and by a second reader. The second reader should not be part of the team (in many cases this will be one of the course coordinators).
- Clarity of the text: is it clear from the description what work has been undertaken? Is it clear which skills needed to be learned and how this was done?
- Volume of the work: Does the work done justify the time investment in terms of credit points? Did the student stick to the planning, or if the planning proved unrealistic, did he or she adjust it accordingly?
- Informativeness of the appendices: do the samples presented give sufficient indication of the output?
- Quality of the work: exact assessment criteria depend on the type of work that was done.
- Research skills: if new skills had to be learned, did the student learn them well and in timely fashion? Was the degree of supervision needed below, on, or above average?
- Content knowledge: Did the student show enough knowledge of the theoretical and empirical issues that form the context of the research? If a learning effort was needed, did the student do well in increasing his or her knowledge? Did the student attend relevant seminars, workshops etc.?
- Research cycle: Was the student a fully functional member of the research team? Does the student show insight into the various tasks that go into the execution of a research project?
- Reporting: If planned for, did the student contribute to output in the form of papers and presentations? To what extent were these the result of the student’s own initiative? What is the quality of the output, in terms of the usual indicators: originality, clarity, application of suitable method, theoretical engagement with the results, and care taken in editing the text? Often, however, such output is the result of joint work in which the student was just a member of the team. The assessment should then be based only on the way the student has carried out the specific tasks assigned to her/him. Was excessive instruction and motivation needed? Did the student show initiative? Did the student stick to deadlines? Was the student a team player? Did the work have to be checked for errors a lot?
- If necessary, the grade thus settled on is adjusted upward or downward by the supervisor on the basis of his/her general impression of how the student conducted the work required of him/her.
Students either continue their internship as described in Lab Rotation 1, in a research environment at Tilburg or Radboud University (such as a PI group, a department, or an ad-hoc combination of related research projects), or choose a new research environment.
In case of a continuation of Lab Rotation 1, Lab Rotation 2 starts with an assessment meeting involving the student, a senior researcher, and where appropriate other co-workers within the project, to see what still needs to be done to bring the student’s project to completion. If any analyses still need to be carried out, these are planned and executed first. Then the focus shifts to reporting the findings. A suitable venue for an oral presentation is found first: this may be an internal presentation in the research group, but it may also be a conference or workshop presentation elsewhere. It may be identified (and prepared) as a joint presentation with other members of the group, but it is important that the student is responsible for some or all of the actual presentation. Finally, the student prepares a written version, in the form of a paper that could either be submitted to a journal or conference in its present form, or function as the basis for a future submission, by the student alone or by two or more authors including the student. Since each Lab Rotation will be different, these are just general guidelines: each team has the freedom to settle on the most optimal way of providing further training, and the chance to gain research experience and to learn useful research skills
In case of a new research environment, the steps described for Lab Rotation 1 are partly repeated: the student attends seminars (2 ECTS) and works on an individual project (7 ECTS), which entails, if feasible, the entire cycle: identifying a research question, drafting a design, carrying out the research, and reporting its findings. Note that in this case less time is available for a full-scale individual research project than in the case of a continuation between Lab Rotations 1 and 2 (only 7 ECTS versus the 11 ECTS of the combined 2 ECTS for drafting a research proposal in Lab Rotation 1 and the full 9 ECTS of Lab Rotation 2). To enhance feasibility, the exact deliverables are determined carefully in a meeting between supervisor and student (and if necessary one of the course coordinators), one month into the internship.
The coordinator will hold regular digital office hours in which students can discuss issues and ideas, and get guidance.
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