June 16, 2017

What is “authentic scholarly work”?

This is a tricky question. In Students as Scholars, we define undergraduate scholarship as “the process of generating and sharing knowledge or creative works”. The Council on Undergraduate Research defines it as “an inquiry or investigation conducted by an undergraduate student that makes an original intellectual or creative contribution to the discipline.” Programs need to agree on a definition of scholarly work in the discipline, and what it means for undergraduates to engage in that work.  Generally, we expect that if it is the research, creative or professional work that would count as “scholarship” for faculty, and at a level that undergraduate students can reasonably be expected to engage in, then it “counts.”

Some definitions recently written by programs include:

  • Management: Generating a question that is relevant to the domain, using the Scientific Method (broadly construed) to gather information relevant to the question, coming up with an answer, and communicating it to a stakeholder group.
  • Sociology: The systematic exploration of evaluation of a specific social phenomenon using appropriate sociological categories and concepts, methods of data collection, and data analysis, communicated to the relevant publics.
  • Social work: Research is the process of exploring and understanding the multidimensional factors that affect clients/client systems at the individual, family, community, and societal levels, and the subsequent interventions that may be used to address presenting concerns.
  • Global and Community Health: Research is the systematic synthesis of data, information, and faculty to advance public health knowledge.
  • Neuroscience: The process of inquiry by which we generate knowledge about the structure and function of the nervous system. This includes extending and validating (or invalidating) current ideas, understanding implications of the work, and implementing existing methods or developing new ones to address specific research questions.
  • Psychology: The process of inquiry by which scholars explore hypotheses and generate and share knowledge of thought and behavior
  • Communication: Research is the systematic process of using direct observations answer original question, with questions generated from a foundation of existing knowledge.

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