Visiting Student Researcher (VSR) Program

What is the VSR program?

A visiting student researcher (VSR) is a Canadian or international student conducting research on a full-time basis at the University of Ottawa under the supervision of a uOttawa faculty member. A VSR must be enrolled in an undergraduate, master’s or doctoral program at a university in Canada or abroad.

Types of Research Opportunities
  • VSRs coming with their own research project:
    • Some students come with a clear research question to address and they come to our University to have access to our resources (i.e., libraries and labs). These students will have a home supervisor who is responsible for ensuring that the research project meets the requirements of their home institution and reviews the progress of the research project. University of Ottawa supervisors provide some level of guidance and support throughout the student’s time in Ottawa.
  • VSRs supporting the research of a faculty member:
    • Students that would like to have a research experience who do not have a specific research project in mind can join the research of a University of Ottawa faculty member. These students will join either a research lab or will do research tasks as set by the hosting supervisor. Supervisors are required to develop a research plan for the student and be more involved in the supervision and mentoring as the student is directly supporting the supervisor’s research.
VSR Responsibilities
  • Attend a mandatory orientation session with the Centre for Research Opportunities upon arrival.
  • Attend one initial mandatory meeting with your supervisor to discuss the research project and set outcomes.
  • Follow the University of Ottawa's ethics and integrity guidelines when conducting research.
  • Complete the appropriate training according to the specifics of the research project (i.e., lab safety training, animal care, and WHMIS training).
  • Be in contact with your supervisor by email or in person to discuss any progress or challenges.
  • Inform the Centre for Research Opportunities of any difficulties arising during the research project period, particularly if they may jeopardize your ability to complete the project.
  • Before departure, arrange a meeting with the Centre for Research Opportunities to have a debrief session.
Home Supervisor Responsibilities
  • Approve the research project of the student.
  • Ensure that the research project follows the ethics regulations of their home institution.
  • Develop a week-by-week work plan for the student and set deliverables.
  • Provide support and guidance throughout the research project.
  • Communicate regularly with the student by email or phone to discuss any progress or challenges.
  • Ensure that all written results follow the home institution’s formatting, style and referencing guidelines to avoid plagiarism and academic dishonesty.
  • Ensure pictures, tables and graphs follow home institution’s guidelines.
  • Inform the student about submission deadlines and other important dates.
University of Ottawa Supervisor Responsibilities
  • Have an initial meeting with the VSR to discuss the research project and set outcomes.
  • If applicable, provide guidance and support to the VSR on how to apply for ethics approval.
  • Ensure that the student receives the appropriate training according to the specifics of the research project (i.e., lab safety training, animal care, and WHMIS training), and that the student will have appropriate supervision while using University facilities and equipment.
  • Provide appropriate support and meeting with the VSR to review the research progress.
  • Inform the Centre for Research Opportunities of any difficulties arising during the research project period, particularly if they may jeopardize the student’s ability to complete the project.

How to participate

Are you interested in doing research at the University of Ottawa? Here’s how you can join us!

Eligibility criteria

Students must:

  • Be enrolled at a Canadian or international educational institution other than the University of Ottawa;
  • Intend to come to the University of Ottawa solely for the purpose of conducting research on a full-time basis on a project that is part of their curriculum or academically relevant to their program; and
  • Have obtained approval from the host and home supervisors for the research activities to be conducted at the University of Ottawa.

Academic research activities:

  • Must not involve payment to student (scholarships are not considered payment);
  • Must not lead to credits from the University of Ottawa; and
  • Must not register in courses at the University of Ottawa.

Duration of research stay:

  • Undergraduate students: Maximum of 4 months (must be fewer than 119 days).
  • Master’s students: Maximum of 12 months.
  • PhD students: Maximum of 24 months.

NOTE: If you feel your research activities would require a longer stay, please get in touch with us to discuss your case: vsr@uOttawa.ca

Steps for finding a University of Ottawa faculty supervisor

It is the responsibility of the student to identify, contact, and obtain approval from a University of Ottawa faculty member to supervise their research activities.

Students are invited to consult the lists of faculty members on the websites of academic units in order to find a supervisor. Most professors also have a personal web page that provides details about their research.

The uOttawa experts page and the uOttawa Research Network page can help students identify potential supervisors according to their research specialization.

Send an email to potential faculty members to discuss the possibility of becoming your supervisor. We strongly suggest that you avoid generic emails when contacting a faculty member. Instead, describe why you’re interested in working with the professor and/or why you feel you would be a good fit for their research team (including relevant academic or professional experience and any applicable skills you possess). You could also attach your resume and transcript to highlight your academic and professional achievements. 

Here are two templates that you can use as a guideline when contacting faculty members: 

  • Students coming with their own research project:
    • Dear Prof. [FirstName LastName],
      I hope this email finds you well.
      I am doing a research project on “[Research Topic]”, as part of my [Academic program: Bachelor of..., Master of..., PhD....] at [Name of University/Academic Institution] ([Country]) and I would highly appreciate if you could be my research supervisor.
      The University of Ottawa offers a Visiting Student Researcher (VSR) program, where students from other institutions come to do research with a faculty member of the University. Being my supervisor will require meeting with me to discuss the progress of my research, and to provide me guidance regarding the research and the direction I should take.
      It would be a great honour to do my research project under your supervision, as your research on "[Research Topic and/or Title of published papers]" is closely linked to my research project.
      I am planning to come to Ottawa from [Starting Date - Ending Date]. Shall you agree to supervise my research, you would have to sign the attached VSR form.
      I have attached a copy of my resume and transcript for your records, however let me know if you have any further questions regarding the research project or myself. 
      Thanking you in advance for your consideration.  

      Sincerely,
      [Name]
  • Students wanting to join a research group (coming without a research project):
    • Dear Prof. [FirstName LastName],
      I hope this email finds you well.
      I am currently a student at [Name of University/Academic Institution] ([Country]) and as part of my [Academic program: Bachelor of..., Master of..., PhD....] I need to do a research internship. I am contacting you because it would be an honour to join your research team.
      The University of Ottawa offers a Visiting Student Researcher (VSR) program, where students from other institutions come to do research under the supervision of a faculty member of the University. Being my supervisor will require providing me guidance regarding the research and the direction I should take. And in return I will be supporting directly your research endeavours.
      It would be a great honour to join your research team, as your work on "[Research Topic and/or Title of published papers]" is closely linked to my research interests.

      I am planning to come to Ottawa from [Starting Date - Ending Date]. Shall you agree to host me, you would have to sign the attached VSR form.
      I have attached a copy of my resume and transcript for your records, however let me know if you have any further questions regarding my academic background or research skills.
      Thanking you in advance for your consideration.

      Sincerely,
      [Name]

NOTE: Students should use these emails as templates, however we advise to personalize it to their specific circumstances before sending it.

Application process for Canadian or permanent resident students
  1. Pay the processing fee of CA$300.
  2. Complete the VSR admission form.
  3. Submit the complete admission package to vsr@uOttawa.ca, which must include:
    • Proof of payment of processing fee;
    • Completed VSR admission form;
    • Copy of official identification; and
    • Letter from your home institution supporting your research at University of Ottawa and dates of your stay.

NOTE: Your application will be processed once the complete admission package and all required documents are received. Please ensure to submit a complete admission package months in advance your planned arrival date as your research project may require ethics approval.

Upon acceptance, you will receive a letter of acceptance from the Centre for Research Opportunities as proof of enrollment in the VSR Program. Do not forget to check the "Once you are accepted" section for further information.

Application process for international students
  1. Pay the processing fee of CA$300.
  2. Complete the VSR admission form.
  3. Submit the complete admission package to vsr@uOttawa.ca, which must include:
    • Proof of payment of processing fee;
    • Completed VSR admission form;
    • Copy of your passport; and
    • Letter from your home institution supporting your research at University of Ottawa and dates of your stay.

NOTE: Your application will be processed once the complete admission package and all required documents are received. Please ensure to submit a complete admission package at least 3 months in advance your planned arrival date as your research project may require ethics approval.

Upon acceptance, you will receive a letter of acceptance from the Centre for Research Opportunities for immigration purposes. Immigration guidance is provided once the student has applied to the program. Do not forget to check the "Once you are accepted" section for further information.

Once you're accepted

The next step, before going any further, is to determine whether your research project needs ethics approval by consulting the responsible conduct of research checklist.

Responsible conduct of research checklist
University Health Insurance Plan (UHIP)

UHIP is a mandatory insurance plan for international students (and dependants if applicable) that covers standard medical visits and part of other medical and hospital expenses during your stay in Canada. It also can help with obtaining certain medical devices, such as wheelchairs and hearing aids. UHIP does not cover dental care or the cost of prescription or other drugs.

NOTE: If you or any accompanying family members have a medical condition, we advise you to postpone your research stay to a future date as medical treatment can be costly for non-Canadians.

Buddy Program

Transitioning to a new environment can be challenging – let a buddy help you! The VSR Program can connect you with a uOttawa student prior to your arrival. Your buddy will be there to support you finalizing administrative steps, help you navigate the academic system, and immerse you into Canadian life and culture. If you would like to have a buddy during your research stay, please send us an email at vsr@uottawa.ca.

 

You are a student at the University of Ottawa and you would like to become a buddy? Write us at vsr@uottawa.ca!

Transportation options

U-Pass

A discounted student transit pass that is good for a full term, known as the U-Pass, is available to students registered in the VSR program. The U-Pass allows you to take public transit anywhere in Ottawa and Gatineau. The process on how to apply for the U-Pass will be explained during your orientation session.

Current VSRs

Are you a current visiting student research (VSR) and looking to get the most out of your research experience at the University of Ottawa? This section provides you with information on services and programs available to you.

Health Services

You have access to the uOttawa Health Services on campus. During your stay you can visit the campus walk-in clinic to see a doctor.

Sport Services

Recreational

Stay active and in good health while at university by taking part in recreational activities on campus. Sports Services offers a variety of group fitness classes and services.


Intramural

Intramural programs offer you the chance to play your favourite sports with other students on a regular basis in competitive and recreational leagues. Sports include basketball, dodgeball, flag football, ultimate frisbee, hockey, soccer and volleyball. Learn more about intramural sports, including how to register.

Social and cultural activities

If you want to know about the events and activities happening on and off campus in the Ottawa region, follow our VSR Facebook page to get all the details! You’ll find information on cultural and social activities and program updates and notifications.

 

Workshops and other resources

Altitude program

Are you a VSR at the master’s or PhD level? Then you can benefit from the services offered under the Altitude program.

The Altitude program was designed to enhance the learning experience of graduate students and post-doctoral fellows, preparing them for the workforce and the professional academic world. Altitude offers a variety of events and workshops which help hone particular skill sets, such as communication, teaching, and writing. These free workshops allow students to not only improve their academic success, but also to gain an extensive understanding of the job market. Altitude takes learning beyond the classroom, bringing the graduate experience to greater heights.

Visit the Altitude website for more information and like Altitude on Facebook!

 

Entrepreneurial Mindset Certificate

The University of Ottawa’s eHub offers the Entrepreneurial Mindset Certificate (EMC) to help students learn to think like an entrepreneur. As a visiting student researcher, you are eligible to participate free of charge!

The EMC has three streams to help you develop a more entrepreneurial way of thinking! Our three streams are : Skills, Tools, and Networking. In order to qualify for the EMC, you must attend five events in each stream. Check out the EMC website for more information on the certificate and upcoming workshops!

Extending your VSR status
  1. Please contact vsr@uOttawa.ca to arrange a meeting to explain the reasons for the extension.
  2. If extension is approved by the Centre for Research Opportunities, pay the processing fee of CA$300.
  3. Email the following documents to vsr@uOttawa.ca
    • Proof of payment of processing fee;
    • Confirmation of support of extension by University of Ottawa supervisor (email or official letter); and 
    • Confirmation of support of extension by Home Institution (in official letterhead).

For more information

vsr@uottawa.ca

 

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