Defining the research process at Pioneer: how scholars move from selecting research areas to developing their own research paper topic

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Research process

Research process at Pioneer

Confused about the difference between a research concentration, research area, or research paper topic? We’re here to help!

At Pioneer, the research journey moves from research area to research concentration, and finally to research paper topic. Writing an undergraduate-level research paper as a high school student is a challenge, and everything about the Pioneer Research Program is intentionally designed to support students in this journey. Learn more below about each stage of the research process at Pioneer:

First, students apply to up to four research areas, and describe their interest in each in their application. Pioneer offers 30 different research areas, from neuroscience to literature; from Science, Technology, and Society to philosophy.

Second, the Pioneer admissions team uses information about the student’s interest, as demonstrated in essays and the interview, to determine the best research concentration.

Third, Pioneer scholars build foundational knowledge in their cohort sessions and conduct initial research, all with the support of their faculty mentor and Pioneer’s academic system. Pioneer scholars attend five group sessions with a cohort of 3-5 peers from around the world and their faculty mentor.

Finally, each Pioneer scholar works with their faculty mentor to form and develop their own research paper topic. Faculty mentors can guide the student, but cannot directly give a topic to the student, as the research paper topic should come from the researcher’s own creativity and insight. The student’s research paper topic generally is related to the foundational learning in the cohort sessions, but many students also integrate other interests or aspects. The cohort sessions are best understood as a platform for creating a research paper topic, not a constraint. Students are encouraged to connect the foundational learning in the cohort sessions to their own experiences and interests to create a unique and meaningful topic that will allow them to explore their interests and demonstrate their creativity, analytical thinking, problem-solving, and communication skills.

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