All students involved in research and creative projects should have their experience recognized on their transcript. This could be through academic credit or zero semester hour registration through URES or appropriate departmental courses.

This page explains independent research courses, non-credit bearing courses, best practices, and grading.

Departmental Courses

Most departments have research courses available for majors within their department. URES and HONR courses are not the same as departmental research courses. Departments may or may not accept URES courses for Honors in the Major. This needs to be verified with the major department BEFORE registration.

URES Research Courses

OUR offers the following courses each semester, available for registration through MyUI. If you are not listed in the 'View Instructors' drop-down box of MyUI, please contact us and we will add you for the specific URES course.

URES:3992 is a 0-semester hour course that is not graded. This course is primarily used for transcript verification and tracking of research involvement. 
Students should register for this course if they:

  • Are paid. (Students cannot receive course credit and payment for the same work).
  • Are volunteering in a research position.
  • Do not want to accrue extra tuition costs or fees (i.e., summer semesters).

URES:3993 is offered for 1-4 semester hours, graded pass/fail. Tuition/fees applicable where appropriate.

URES:3994 is offered for 1-4 semester hours, graded A-F. Tuition/fees applicable where appropriate.

For credit-bearing courses, outline clear expectations for grading and semester hours before they register. Writing these out so that they are accessible to you and the student helps both of you stay on the same page. According to University of Iowa Guidelines, 1 semester hour of credit is equal to approximately three hours of research work per week or 45 hours over the full 15-week semester. 

More Information

OUR holds no goals or expectations for this course other than to further a student's research understanding while honoring their time commitment. Any further goals or expectations are at the sole discretion of the instructor/mentor.

OUR highly encourages mentors to begin each semester by meeting with their mentee to outline all goals and expectations. If a course is graded, the expectations for each grade should be clearly explained. A written contract between the mentor and mentee can serve as a mediator if any issues or confusion arise later in the semester. It can also be carried forward and revised from semester to semester.

Examples of topics to cover:

  • Time commitment (how many hours per week) and flexibility 
  • Preferred communication (lab notebooks, research group platforms, illness notifications, email)
  • Semester goals (learn a technique, get through a dataset, readings, independence)
  • Expected progression 
  • General lab etiquette 

Grading is entirely up to the instructor/mentor. The Office of Undergraduate Research does not have criteria other than the student showing up to put in their best effort. It is important for mentors to clearly discuss grading criteria with their mentees. Set up distinguishable features of what an A, B, C, etc, student does. OUR recommends a written (typed) mentor-mentee agreement or syllabus that aligns both parties' expectations.

Routine feedback on performance is also beneficial for both mentor and mentee. This alleviates any anxieties mentees may feel about their progress or grade and allows the mentor to identify and resolve problems before they get too big. It also prevents discrepancies between mentor and mentee ideas of what a grade may be at the end of the term. We have found that properly aligned expectations and evaluations usually result in an A grade.

Mentor-Mentee Agreements or Pacts are commonly used tools in research settings. You can find many examples of these online and potentially from colleagues. Some research groups use them as manuals and have them available for all members.

OUR Fellows and their mentors are asked to fill out THIS form.