HMB Research Project Courses FAQ

Human Biology offers mentored research project courses (1.0 FCE) at the 300 – 400 level in fall/winter and summer sessions. Over 225 University of Toronto faculty members have served as research project supervisors for over 350 students in the past 4 years alone. In addition, we offer summer session international research opportunities through our partnerships with  Woodsworth College Summer Abroad (through the course HMB396Y) and The Center for International Experience. Many of our project students work in University of Toronto units without an undergraduate program, such as the Institute of Medical Sciences (responsible for administering the graduate student program in the Faculty of Medicine), the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, and many local hospital research institutes.

We have set and maintained high academic expectations for our research project students, such as the requirement for multiple written reports and presentations. We support our supervisors and students by providing assignment guidelines and grading rubrics, multiple evaluations for each student and organizing presentation days. We also support student learning by offering regularly scheduled workshops to develop research, writing, and communication skills.


What Students Should Expect

A student who participates in an undergraduate research opportunity in the Life Sciences, regardless of the nature of the opportunity (be it course-based or stipend based), will have many opportunities to learn about or directly experience:

  • Good Laboratory Practice
    1. Using established laboratory safety protocols and standard operating procedures (SOPs).
    2. Proper documenting of laboratory protocols and results and maintaining proper laboratory records.
  • Experimental and Critical Evaluation Skills
    1. Searching the scientific literature and critically evaluating scientific evidence.
    2. Designing experiments and choosing the appropriate methods of analysis.
    3. Using appropriate laboratory techniques.
    4. Troubleshooting problems and actively formulating appropriate solutions.
    5. Critically analyzing and interpreting data using logic and evidence-based reasoning.
  • Communication, Collaboration and Networking Skills
    1. Communicating in a scholarly style, orally and/or in writing, in seminars, written reports, journal articles, and/or poster presentations, including a final presentation of research work.
    2. Participating in seminar series, journal clubs and/or lab meetings.
    3. Working as a team member in a collaborative research environment.
    4. Building contacts with peers and professionals within the research environment.
  • Personal Development
    1. Beneficially implementing the feedback received and mentoring provided by a research supervisor/principal investigator on a regular basis.
    2. Thinking and working independently and confidently.

Source: Undergraduate Research Opportunities (URO) in Life Sciences, GSLE, University of Toronto, 2013


How can I get an undergraduate research opportunity for credit?

How do I find a supervisor for an undergraduate research project?
Think about your interests and look at the faculty list of any U of T department website. You may also contact a student advisor for advice, and a list of potential supervisors (the list is available after the S term). We have a brochure in the office to help you, which is also available online here.

I do not meet the pre-requisites for the research project course. Is there any way to waive these requirements?
Possibly. The last page of the application form is a waiver form. Should you secure a supervisor, they must fill out the last page and explain why the requisites you do not meet should be waived. Not all requested waiver exceptions will be granted, but no exceptions to the pre-requisites will be considered without the waiver.

I submitted my application to be in one of the Human Biology’s research project courses, but I cannot seem to enrol myself in the course on ROSI. What do I do?
Your application will be reviewed by HMB faculty. Once your application has been accepted you will be enroled in the course by the department. If your application is not accepted, you will be notified by email.

Note on HMB499Y1

We have a policy of not allowing students to do a second research project course (HMB499Y1) in the same lab.

The reasons for this are to ensure students get the best experiences for their time and to minimize risk of academic misconduct.  Doing a related second project course in the same lab is definitely a case of diminishing returns for the same investment in time.  You might be far better served by doing your second project in a different lab, to open up a new set of opportunities, network of contacts and potential references, skill sets, knowledge base, possible graduate opportunities etc.  We hope you understand and reflect on this.

Perhaps more importantly, there are significant risk of academic misconduct when pursuing a second research project course in the same lab with similar general research topic.  All work in this course must be original (not plagiarized), not even plagiarized off of your previous work.  You may be at risk of academic misconduct if your assignments (Progress Reports, Final Report, Presentations) are too similar to your own work from previous years since you have already received academic credit for that previous work.  This may pose a significant challenge for you to be original in your work (that is not faced if doing your second project in a different lab/topic).

Consider these points carefully – you may wish to explore other opportunities for your second project – may be much better for your future (and without the risk of academic misconduct).

If you still intend to pursue HMB499Y1 in the same lab, along with your application please send us a detailed description of the new project showing how it will be significantly different from your first project,  how other parts of the experience will be different (different supervisors etc.), AND how you plan to minimize risk of academic misconduct for the assignments (ie. not plagiarizing off of your own previous work).