Policies and Expectations for Team Leaders

Faculty and staff who are leading Bass Connections projects are expected to follow all university policies. The following guidance underscores policies and practices that commonly relate to the work of Bass Connections project teams, as well as expectations specific to Bass Connections.

Commitment to your team and the Bass Connections model: Bass Connections project teams are expected to be more than a collection of individuals working in parallel. Instead, they should foster dynamic collaboration in which all members are exposed to the diverse aspects of each project and work together toward shared goals. Bass Connections projects should provide students and faculty the opportunity to struggle collectively with a complex problem and produce meaningful deliverables – as defined by each individual team. For team leaders, creating this environment includes making the following commitments:

  • As a team leader, you are responsible for setting the overall vision and direction of the project, selecting and forming an effective team, and ensuring progress on the project. However, you are not expected to know all of the answers. We hope that team leaders will engage students in the research process, and expect students (with some support), to help accomplish the project goals. 
  • While we encourage team leaders to appoint advanced students to mentor less experienced students, including appointing a project manager to support the team’s progress, these roles should complement, not replace the engagement of team leaders.
  • Teams are expected to meet at least once a week. At least one team leader should be present during weekly meetings. Teams may also divide into sub-teams and request that sub-teams meet outside of the standard team meeting time. Sub-teams may be self-organized by students, or led by an advanced student team member.
  • Please also be mindful of commitments that you make to your student team about the project activities. In particular, take care to provide clear and transparent information to students about academic credit and grading, student compensation and travel. If unforeseen challenges emerge in the course of your project, please inform and engage students in the process of navigating these challenges.

Communications with Bass Connections: We aspire to provide clear and timely communications. We aim to minimize our requests of team leaders so that when we do make a request of you, you know that it’s important. With that said, there are a few areas in which we particularly expect team leaders to be responsive. These include:

  • Student applications and rosters: Bass Connections manages a central in-take process for student applications. We expect teams to review and make decisions on student applications in a timely manner. You may also accept students on to your team outside of the central process. We ask that you keep us informed of changes to your team roster. We will also request roster updates at three times during the year.
  • Team activities and accomplishments: Please keep us informed of your team’s progress by sending any products, events or announcements to us at bassconnections@duke.edu so that we can help share your team’s work. You might consider assigning a member of your team to be the “communications lead.”
  • Reporting: At the end of the year, we expect all team leaders to: 1) complete a short evaluation survey and 2) provide, upon request, a brief summary of outputs. Some themes may request additional reporting.
  • Issues: We know that issues will emerge on occasion related to either students, the research project or an unforeseen incident. Please keep us apprised by contacting either your theme or the main office at bassconnections@duke.edu. Please understand that we are your partner in trying to help your team resolve issues.

Please note that your Bass Connections theme may occasionally request additional information.

Acknowledgement: Please acknowledge the support of “Bass Connections at Duke University” in any publications, conference presentations or team materials. Please also share with us any such work products, as well as news of related grants. If a manuscript related to your team’s work is accepted for publication, please notify us at the time of acceptance (rather than publication) so that we can prepare timely communications of this work.  

Branding: Your team is welcome to use the Bass Connections logo and/or Duke logo on materials developed (download logos). However, please take care not to represent your team’s opinions as the views of the Bass Connections program or Duke University.

Bass Connections Showcase: Every team is expected to participate in the annual Bass Connections Showcase. This event, held each April, includes a poster session and an opportunity for a handful of teams to give short talks.

Academic credit: Generally speaking, Bass Connections students are enrolled in a full credit research independent study (offered at the graduate and undergraduate level). Some team leaders set their team up as a special topics course. Your theme will work with you to set up academic credit for students participating on your team. In the course of administering credit, please bear in mind the following:

  • At least one team leader must be authorized as an instructor of record.
  • You should work with your theme to provide students information about enrolling, including providing permission numbers and ensuring enrollment prior to the end of drop/add.
  • Students may participate on the team without credit, or for partial credit, at your discretion.
  • You should not use more than one crediting mechanism for the same student population (i.e., some students should not be enrolled in an independent study while others are enrolled in a special topics course for the same activity; this can create a situation where students may receive different curriculum codes for the same activity).
  • You should hold students to high standards and expect them to spend the same amount of time on the project as you would for other courses (about 10 hours a week for a full credit).
  • Students enrolled in a research independent study should have a significant role in conducting research.
  • You should establish clear and transparent guidelines for how students will be graded (see our guidance on grading).

Paying students: By default, during the academic year, most Bass Connections students should be enrolled for credit. You may opt to pay students from your project budget in circumstances in which credit is not an option (e.g., summer work, graduate students who no longer need credit or can’t accept the credit due to the structure of their program, or for students in specialized roles). You should work with your business manager, and theme as needed, to ensure that students are set up on payroll in accordance with university policies and standard pay rates. Students may not receive both credit and compensation for the same work.

Please note that if you plan to pay students during the summer:

  • You should be clear when making an offer to students about how many hours a week they can expect to work – including being clear about any uncertainties that may exist – so that students can develop a reasonable budget to ensure that they have the means necessary to support themselves over the summer.
  • Upon request, you must provide Bass Connections with a list of all undergraduate students working on your team during the summer and the number of weeks those students will be working. This is to ensure that students on need-based financial aid receive a waiver on their earnings requirement.

Financial management: You should work with your business manager and theme administrator to ensure that your team follows Duke’s financial policies. In particular, please note the following policies pertaining to Bass Connections:

  • Expenditure of funds: Bass Connections will establish a fund code for your use in administering this project. You should not transfer funds from this code to another code without permission. This is to ensure that we can appropriately track and report on the use of funds and ensure that expenditures align with any restrictions set by the original funding source. You should employ Duke’s fund expenditure practices when expending funds. Use Buy@Duke whenever possible. Use a Duke Procurement Card (PCard) for credit/debit card acquisition of travel or goods and services whenever Buy@Duke is not possible to use. For expense reimbursement use Duke’s reimbursement request process.
  • Student expenditure of project funds: If you ask student team members to incur expenses on behalf of the project, please educate them on Duke University financial policies – in particular, the requirement that students should maintain appropriate documentation (e.g., receipts) for any expenses. Please do not ask students to front costs related to your project except in exceptional circumstances. If you are confronting issues which make it necessary for students to incur out-of-pocket costs, please reach out to us for help resolving this issue.
  • Unallowable expenses: Faculty time should not be charged to Bass Connections. Faculty may request a reduction in teaching time, or other forms of support, from their individual school/ department, but such activities would have to be funded by the unit and this is not typical. We realize that it takes time to lead a Bass Connections project. Ideally, your project would align with and support your research goals, providing student support to advance this research. Please also note that we are available to partner with faculty to identify resources that might help reduce time demands. We do not generally support staff time, unless the staff provide specialized support that cannot otherwise be attained. You should not charge staff or postdoc salary to your Bass Connections project if it was not approved as part of the proposed budget.
  • Budget management: Please report any material budget changes to your theme in advance of such expenditure or change. Material changes would include adding new budget line items above $2,000; re-allocating funds of $5,000 or more between expense categories (e.g., from student support to public relations); or overspending on a given line item by more than $5,000.
  • Award period and extensions: Bass Connections funds are awarded for one fiscal year (generally July 1 - June 30). At the end of this period, any unspent funds which were originally awarded through Bass Connections will be returned to Bass Connections. Team leaders may request a no-cost extension by submitting in writing to theme leaders a justification, including:
  1. Reasons for not spending monies as originally proposed.
  2. A revised budget for expending remaining monies.
  3. Duration of the requested no-cost-extension (not to exceed 6 months).
  4. Plans for continuation or advancement of the project beyond the proposed timeline.
  5. Plans for continued engagement with students during the period of the no-cost-extension.

This request must be received at least one month before the end of the award period. When reviewing the request, themes will consider the extent to which the planned activities will support the success of the project and the team’s engagement in the program thus far, particularly with regard to student satisfaction and engagement.

Traveling teams: We recognize that the opportunity to conduct fieldwork is valuable to students and faculty alike and we want to help ensure that any team travel (domestic or international) is successful.

  • Setting clear expectations: When recruiting students and prior to the end of the drop/add period, please provide clear and transparent communication to students about all local, domestic and international travel, including: when travel will take place; any barriers that may prevent travel; whether it is a required or optional element of the team; whether resources exist for all team members to travel, or just a select number – and if selective, how and when that determination will be made; and what financial resources will be provided to travelling students.
  • Scheduling travel: Most teams travel during the summer or extended breaks (winter, spring or fall break). You should avoid scheduling travel that overlaps with the academic calendar. If travel overlaps with the academic calendar, you cannot require nor penalize students to attend if it will mean them missing another course.
  • Notification and advance planning: If your team makes plans to travel at any point during the year, please contact your theme administrator (at least three months prior to international and at least one month before domestic travel) so that we can work with you to ensure students complete all necessary preparations before travelling. Depending on the nature of travel, preparations may include: completing the travel registry, getting vaccinations, completing a participation agreement and securing a visa.  
  • Ground transportation: If you are travelling locally, or elsewhere by car, you should follow the Off-Campus Road Travel Policy or consider using Lyft Rides. Students and team leaders are discouraged from driving to project team activities in their own vehicles. Anyone opting to do so should understand that they are not covered by Duke liability insurance.

Policy on minors: If your team plans to engage with minors (non-Duke students under the age of 18) as part of its research or outreach plan, your team will be required to comply with Duke’s Policy for Minors. To begin this process, you must first request approval for your engagement with minors from Ed Balleisen, Vice Provost for Interdisciplinary Studies. To facilitate this process, at least five weeks before the planned activity, please send a brief email to Laura Howes (laura.howes@duke.edu), director of Bass Connections, explaining the nature of your team’s interaction with minors, how it relates to the goals of your project and any other relevant information about how minors are safeguarded (e.g., they are never alone, teachers or other chaperones are present). This does not need to be overly formal or lengthy.

Upon approval, we can then work with you to facilitate compliance with this policy. Please note that students and team leaders who are engaging with minors will be asked to take a 15-minute training and possibly complete a background check (provisions will be made to support students needing a background check who do not have a U.S. social security number). If you know that your project will require extensive engagement with minors, it is advisable to notify students of this requirement during the recruitment/acceptance phase, providing them the opportunity to raise any concerns.

Institutional Review Board (IRB): As with all university research, you, as the project leader, are responsible for seeking IRB approval when applicable. This is a good opportunity to introduce students to this process. For more information about the IRB, and what types of activities require IRB review, please see the “Before You Begin” section of the Campus IRB website. To discuss whether your study needs IRB review, or to begin the IRB process, email campusirb@duke.edu to schedule a meeting.

As your project evolves, please keep the IRB in mind – particularly if students on your team propose secondary lines of research that may require IRB approval.

Sabbaticals: Team leaders should generally not take a sabbatical while leading a project team. If you are scheduled to take a sabbatical while leading a team, please consult your theme leader.

Non-Duke students: Students from other institutions may participate in Bass Connections. Credit may be available through the interinstitutional registration agreement. Non-Duke students should not receive direct financing from Duke sources of funding. It is at your discretion whether or not to accept non-Duke students on your team, however, if a non-Duke student would be taking the spot of a Duke student on your team, we ask you to consider:  1) Would the team benefit in some way from having a non-Duke student perspective?, 2) Based on the applications received, would this student add something that other Duke students couldn’t bring to the team? Does this student have skills or a perspective not found in the pool of Duke students who applied to the team?

Intellectual property: If your project relates to any in-progress invention disclosures or an invention that you believe has the potential to be patented, we advise that you speak with Duke’s Office of Licensing and Ventures (OLV) prior to engaging students in the project. Please be advised that undergraduate (and often masters) students who work on a project and make significant contributions to that project while operating as a student (not an “employee” on payroll) can make a claim of ownership over the invention (see the rights of undergraduate students). Further, if your project involves a collaboration with an external partner, and involves existing or potential inventions, please consult with OLV to ensure that the appropriate MOUs are established in advance.

If you have questions or concerns at any time, please contact your theme administrator or our office at bassconnections@duke.edu.

Last updated: November 20, 2019