Independent study courses offer the student the opportunity to design and carry out a specific project on his/her own under the supervision of a professor. These projects involve conducting empirical studies or writing extensive research papers. Field investigations may also be conducted. Independent study projects are usually completed by individual students, but on rare occasions more than one student has performed a joint project. An independent study should be undertaken to use and extend information gained from previous academic experience.It is important that independent study include an original contribution by the student. Pure replications or book reports are unacceptable for independent study, but partial extended replications and integrative theoretical papers can be very appropriate. Off-campus independent studies will be acceptable only if evidence for independent work is clear and if the project has obvious relevance to psychology. Merely learning a technique or working in a laboratory in a technical capacity is not sufficient to warrant independent study credit.To pursue an independent study project, the student should first find a faculty member who has the willingness, expertise, and time to sponsor it. Because the number of independent study projects that each faculty member can supervise is limited, it is advantageous to discuss potential projects as early as possible. Students are advised to contact the faculty during the preceding semester to arrange subsequent independent study. After a supervisor for the project has been found, the student must submit a brief proposal describing the project to the Committee on Academic Standing by the end of the first week of classes of the semester during which the work is to be conducted. It should describe the rationale for the project, list primary references to be consulted during the project, and state how the project will be evaluated by the professor. The final report of the independent study project is to be submitted to the supervisor of the project by the last day of classes in the term. It is wise to turn in a rough draft at least two weeks prior to that time. The department strives for the highest of standards of clarity and precision in written work. Please refer to the American Psychological Association Publication Manual (copies are available in the Burke Library), and the Hamilton College Style Sheet for guidance.
All research using animal or human subjects performed under the auspices of the Hamilton College must be in accordance with the ethical principles outlined by the American Psychological Association, the American Physiological Society, and the Society for Neuroscience. Students must be familiar with them and must receive appropriate approval of research protocols before beginning their work.