Independent Work Timeline

Fall Junior Year

In the Fall semester of your junior year, you will participate in small group tutorials to discuss research papers from the primary literature. These tutorials provide an interactive format for you to learn to read and analyze current primary scientific literature — this is essential for you to develop new ideas about research and for formulating hypotheses.
You will participate in discussions headed by postdoctoral instructors once a week for 1.5 hours. The tutorial is broken into two 5-week sections, each with a distinct topic area. At the end of each section, you will be asked to write a short critique of a relevant research paper assigned by the instructor. Students will attend and participate in a total of 8 discussion groups and will write 2 short papers for the fall tutorial. See the 2020 Fall Tutorial Guide (PDF) for important details.

Advisor Matching Process

In the Spring, individual faculty members will be advising you on your junior independent work consisting of a research proposal. Typically, you will continue working with this faculty advisor for your senior thesis in the following year.

Finding an appropriate advisor occurs through an advisor-matching process that occurs in November of the Fall semester. During a two-week interval, you will meet with 3 or 4 faculty members to discuss whether your interests align with projects in their labs. After you meet with them, you and the faculty will be sent a web-based survey that rank-orders preferences. Selections will be made based on preferences and faculty availability.

Spring Junior Year

One major product: Students’ Spring Independent Work culminates with the submission of a research proposal. This proposal will serve as the basis for your senior thesis work. As is typical of research proposals, the document will include a short survey of the literature.
You should expect to meet with your advisor ~5 times during the semester to formulate the project and discuss the literature. See the Junior Spring Independent Work Guidelines and Structure for more information.

Senior Thesis

The senior thesis in neuroscience is the culmination of original research conducted by the student with the guidance of a faculty member in the Princeton Neuroscience Institute (including associated and affiliated members).
This comprehensive written work, ideally, is the application of the skills learned in coursework, Junior tutorials and Junior papers to an original research project. It is worth noting that a number of students generate original findings that are eventually incorporated into peer-reviewed scientific articles. See the Senior Thesis Guidelines and Structure for more information.