Independent Research (CHM 399 and 499)

Purpose and Eligibility

The ability to work independently is an essential skill for all science students.  The GVSU Chemistry Department offers two courses of independent research to provide you with a variety of laboratory and library research experiences.  All qualified students are encouraged to participate in independent research before graduation.

Readings in Chemistry (CHM 399) is designed primarily for third year chemistry majors and minors.  In this course, you will perform independent library research about a specific topic of chemistry research.  You will select and research the topic in consultation with a chemistry faculty advisor.  To be eligible for CHM 399, you must be a junior with a GPA of more than 2.5 in chemistry courses, have approval of the Chemistry Department chairperson, and have a Chemistry Department project sponsor.

Investigation Problems (CHM 499) is designed to give upper level chemistry majors experience in laboratory research in chemistry.  As an independent research student, you will work closely with a faculty advisor in selecting, planning and performing chemistry experiments.  All chemistry majors who are planning to go to graduate school or get an ACS certified degree are strongly encouraged to participate in an independent senior research project.  Enrollment in Chemistry 499 is restricted to chemistry majors (sophomore level or higher) with a GPA at least 2.5 in chemistry courses. 

Selection of Faculty Sponsor and Project

A student must be accepted by a chemistry faculty sponsor prior to enrolling in CHM 499.  The student should discuss possible projects with faculty members in the discipline of interest and choose a sponsor for the project.  A permit to register must be signed by the faculty sponsor and Head of the Department in order to enroll in CHM 499.  The student must then meet with the faculty sponsor to discuss the details of the research project and to review the Guidelines for Independent Research which are available from the faculty sponsor.

Independent Research Requirements

  1. When performing laboratory work (499), you must maintain a laboratory notebook as required by all upper-level chemistry laboratory courses.  Your notebook must be turned in with the final report and will not be returned.
  2. You must submit a written report at the end of the project. The report will be kept on file and will not be returned.  The report will normally include a summary of the project with relevant historical and background material, a conclusion and references.  Laboratory reports should also include experimental procedures, tabulated data, data analysis, and calculations.
  3. You must submit in writing a work schedule to your faculty supervisor at the beginning of the term.  The schedule should include at least three hours of research time per credit hour. You are expected to meet this schedule.
  4. You must meet with a faculty member once a week to discuss what has been accomplished during the previous week and what is planned for the upcoming week.  The meeting should be included on your weekly schedule.
  5. When enrolled in CHM 499, you will be expected to present an oral research report in the Chemistry Seminar (schedule permitting).


Projects originating within the department will be funded within the department.  Projects originating outside of the department will ordinarily be funded within the department to the extent of costs of supplies and materials of analysis only. 

Page last modified November 15, 2016