By Léa Montminy-Bergeron
I am an Honours Bachelor of Science student, with a specialization in Biochemistry. Sounds fancy, right? But what does it mean? It can be quite confusing, differentiating all sorts of different Bachelor’s degrees options. Up to a few months ago, I wasn’t completely sure myself what my degree entailed (by lack of information on my end!). After talking to older students and doing some research of my own, I can finally confirm what it means.
What is an Honours Research Project?
Undergraduate students, usually in their final year of studies, will have the opportunity to complete a research project during two (2) sessions, from September to April. You will spend a minimum of 15 to 20 hours per week doing research, but this amount of time can vary depending on the agreement between the student and the supervisor. At the end of your project, you will present your research findings, and submit an Honours thesis which will describe your research.
How can I get the opportunity to participate in an Honours Research Project?
If you are enrolled in an Honours Bachelor of Science with Specialization in a specific discipline, congratulations! Odds are you will get the opportunity to complete a research project. The criteria varies depending on schools however, so I suggest confirming details regarding this with your faculty.
How do I find a professor to supervise me?
Finding a project supervisor is a crucial step of the Honours Project and can sometimes be one of the most stressful tasks. It is recommended that you start your search early - think Fall semester of the year before you plan on starting your Honours project (e.g. Fall Semester of your third year).
Identify potential researchers in both faculties of Science and sometimes Medicine by their interests, and see what type of research peaks your curiosity the most. Once you have a pretty good idea of what you would like to pursue, you should attempt to contact the professor or researcher to explore the option of undertaking a research project in their laboratories. It’s always a good idea to contact multiple professors, as they usually interview several students. Provide them with a resume and your transcript, and offer to meet with them for a potential interview.
Before your interview, inform yourself on the research being done in the lab and make a list of questions about the work. Always show interest! Keep in mind that professors select students according to different criteria. If you can, try to get some input from old students or employees in the lab.
If you don’t find a supervisor, it’s not the end of the world, and you might not be the only one! Please contact the office in charge, and they might be able to help you identify supervisors who might still be looking for students.
What can I gain from an Honours Research Project (other than research experience)?
You will gain:
Substantial practical training in scientific techniques used today;
Data analysis skills;
Written and oral communication skills;
Advanced knowledge by participating in an active research field;
Experience required for higher education.
Make sure to stay up to date with your deadlines, and find some more information about your school’s requirements!