Authors and Advisors


Dr. Elizabeth Perry-Sizemore

Dr. Elizabeth Perry-Sizemore is Head of Social and Behavioral Sciences at Randolph College, where she is also the Catherine Ehrman Thoresen and William Thoresen Chair of Economics, and Professor of Economics. At Randolph she has directed the Summer Research Program, chaired the Symposium of Artists and Scholars, and helped design the RISE program, which awards grants to students to pursue scholarly and creative endeavors.

She is a Social Sciences Councilor with the Council on Undergraduate Research and the student research module coordinator for Starting Point: Teaching and Learning Economics (National Science Foundation Grant DUE0817382, $497,953, PIs: M. Maier, C. Manduca, K. McGoldrick, S. Simkins).

Lead advisors

Dr. Julio Rivera

Dr. Julio Rivera researches "Big Data" problems and applies methodologies emphasizing "Business Geographics," which integrates Geographic Information Science (GIS), visualization techniques, and statistics. He brings this approach to problems in Marketing, Real Estate, Retail Site Selection, Economic Geography, and Data Analytics and challenges students to use these methods to solve problems and conduct research. He has directed numerous undergraduate student senior thesis projects, many of which were presented at regional and national conferences. He was the recipient of the 2002 Carthage College Distinguished Teaching Award, and is an Emeritus President of the Council on Undergraduate Research. Rivera regularly serves as a consultant to other colleges and universities as they develop undergraduate research programs. He serves as a consultant to government, business, and higher education and served as the Provost of Carthage College overseeing all aspects of the College's academic administration (2010–14).

Professor Stuart Hampton-Reeves

Stuart Hampton-Reeves is Professor of Shakespeare Studies and Research-Informed Teaching, and Director of Research for the Faculty of Culture and the Creative Industries at the University of Central Lancashire, UK. He is Chair of the British Conference of Undergraduate Research.


Dr. Candace Rypisi

Dr. Candace Rypisi is the Director of Student-Faculty Programs at the California Institute of Technology. She manages ten programs, which provide research opportunities for over 950 undergraduates annually. As a data-driven administrator, she relies on research and best practices to guide strategic planning, assessment, and continuous improvement efforts. Her research interests are focused on the administration and funding of undergraduate research programs and on undergraduate research mentoring. She is co-author (along with Michael Bergren) on the article Endowing Undergraduate Research to Ensure Growth and Stability (Winter 2015, CUR Quarterly) and author of several chapters in Amgen Scholars: Best Practices in Summer Undergraduate Research Programs. She currently serves as President of the Southern California Conferences on Undergraduate Research.

Accessibility advisor

Wilma Alexander

Wilma Alexander is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy with Masters in Human-Computer Interaction, Linguistics, and Information Science. She has over 15 years of experience as a manager with the online learning team at the University of Edinburgh, where she specialized in usable and accessible digital practice, tutored on the groundbreaking Masters in Digital Education, and developed online staff training on accessible e-learning and online tutoring skills. Since retiring from the University at the end of 2015, Wilma has provided consultancy services on all aspects of online learning, with a special focus on accessibility and usability issues.

Course structure



  • Introduction
  • Learning outcomes

Course files

    Module 1: The research process and the research question

    • Research is a process
    • Topics and questions
    • What makes a good research question?
    • Focusing and articulating your research question
    • Critical evaluation of research questions
    • Your research question in context
    • Module summary

    Module 2: Assessing existing scholarship

    • Research is participation in a conversation
    • Discovering and considering past research
    • Literature reviews and transferable skills
    • Developing a plan
    • Module summary

    Module 3: Forming an hypothesis or thesis statement

    • Hypotheses and thesis statements in the research process
    • Hypotheses stem from questions
    • Clarifying a hypothesis
    • Strengthening your own hypothesis or thesis statement
    • Module summary

    Module 4: Considering research approaches

    • The importance of evidence and approaches
    • Types of evidence and approaches
    • Choosing evidence and approaches
    • Evidence and approach are related
    • Module summary


  • Course summary
  • Resource bank
  • References

Course features

Course features include:

  • Real students offering their experiences and opinions
  • Video interviews with students discussing various aspects of their research process.

Supporting institutions

  • Clark Atlanta University
  • Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis
  • Johnson C. Smith University
  • Oakland University
  • Tulane University
  • University of Nebraska – Omaha
  • University of Southern Maine
  • University of Texas at El Paso
  • University of Westminster
  • University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire
  • University of Wisconsin – Platteville
  • University of Wisconsin – River Falls
  • University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point