Student Inquiry and Research (SIR) supports student investigations conducted on and off-campus. Formalized in and evolving since 1989, the SIR department provides a framework for students to conduct original investigations on compelling questions of interest, collaborate with other students and professional researchers, and to share their investigation results through public presentations and publications.Student participation varies slightly each year, but recent trends suggest that about 75% of all IMSA students will conduct at least one investigation during their enrollment at the Academy. In its current form, the SIR department runs a number of distinct programs and initiatives – detailed below – for the IMSA community and the public.
Before beginning an SIR project, students and parents/guardians will need to sign the Parent/Guardian Permission and Student Agreement form.
Student Research Program
During the academic year, SIR runs a one-credit, graded course. Students work with research mentors both on and off campus. The projects are designed to last between one and two years and culminate in a peer-reviewed publication. SIR manages the solicitation of projects, recruitment of students to projects, logistics of sending students to research sites, and oversight of projects and student outcomes.
Students must have completed their first year at IMSA and be in good academic standing to be eligible for participation in the program. Inquiry Days (usually Wednesdays) are set aside for students to pursue their research. IMSA provides a variety of unique resources to help facilitate SIR investigations.
The goal of the SIR program is to teach IMSA students how to carry out authentic research. The program is intended to instruct students in the methods of doing research in a discipline of their interest.
What happens at each stage of research will vary slightly depending on the student’s proposed project and discipline, but students will undertake some version of the following:
Phase 1: Getting acquainted with the field
Phase 2: Development of research plan
Phase 3: Execution of the research
Phase 4: Communication of research results
The research mentor and SIR team together provide guidance and support for students to work through this process.
IMSA is grateful for the generosity of all professionals who undertake the serious commitment of supporting students engaged in research. Mentors interested in working with IMSA students or know of others who might be, should contact the SIR office for further information.
The SIR department manages the Summer Research Training Program in partnership with Professional Field Services (PFS). This program engages non-IMSA students in research at IMSA. The goal of the program is twofold: the students get a meaningful research experience through their work with IMSA faculty and this work moves the researcher’s own project forward in a meaningful way.
For information about IMSA’s other summer programs visit Summer@IMSA.
IMSAloquium (formerly called Presentation Day) is an annual, public event during which IMSA community showcases work done during the year. SIR students present on their research, even if it is still ongoing. Students doing independent studies and other innovative work are also invited to present. In addition, Research Mentors and IMSA community members facilitate participant-centered workshops related to research they are engaged in on campus. The event also features a keynote speech and brief comments from members of the IMSA staff. Parents, research mentors, IMSA staff and students, and outside visitors are all welcome.
Abstracts from past years are available on DigitalCommons.