BioSURF Research Proposal Guidelines

You are responsible for authoring your 1-2 page double-spaced research proposal, which we strongly advise you share with your prospective mentor. It should include:

  • Introduction: The introduction should provide the background and give the motivation for the proposed project. Discuss the relationship of your project to the ongoing work of your mentor. State your hypothesis where applicable.
  • Project Description: This section should specifically describe what you will do and how you will do it. Describe your method of inquiry and outline resources you will need.
  • Expected Outcome: Describe data you expect to collect and possible interpretations and  implications. 

The proposal may include citations (any standard notation format is acceptable), but citations are NOT required. You may ask your research mentor for feedback on your proposal, but you, as the applicant, must be the primary author. Please see the WashU Undergraduate Student Academic Integrity Policy for details on plagarism and collaboration for guidance as your prepare your proposal.

NOTE: Some projects may not fit within the above format for writing the proposal, BUT will still qualify for support. Examples of this type of project are: methods development, acquiring preliminary data that will allow for formulation of hypotheses, or conducting a genetic screen.

Your research proposal should be written such that a reviewer with an advanced degree in the biological sciences, but who is not an expert in your specific field, can understand and appreciate your proposal. The proposal should be as specific as you can make it. It should outline what you plan to do and why it is important or will be useful. It should contain an outline of the theoretical and experimental techniques. It should state how the work fits into the context of the research in the field.

Again, though your mentor and/or others in the lab should review your research proposal and make editorial and scientific suggestions, the proposal must be written by you, the student.

FOR SUMMER 2021: Owing to COVID-19, in a separate short-answer, you will be asked to provide a detailed description of your research plans if conditions require a return to fully remote research. Please develop this plan with your research mentor and make sure that they approve your alternate research plan. We want to insure that students will be able to have a productive summer research experience, even if physical presence in a lab is not possible.