Student conducting marine research underwater

Doing independent research in the spirit of J. Edward Richter since 1968

Ed Richter studied abroad at the University of Cambridge from 1921-1923. His transformative time aboard was unlike anything he had experienced in a traditional American classroom setting. He came to truly value independence of thought and the feeling of responsibility inspired through independent efforts. Subsequently, he was eager to have other students partake in an equally enriching learning endeavor.

Hundreds of Occidental students have benefited from the generous Richter Trust since 1968. The Independent Richter beckons students that are proactive, responsible, open-minded, and flexible. Students must work closely with their Occidental faculty supervisor to develop a successful proposal. The ability to work independently must be demonstrated throughout the proposal process and beyond. A combination of maturity, academic background, and relevant experience are all part of what it takes to be a successful independent research candidate.

Ready to apply? Jump to the application instructions.

Possible Research Project Areas

The number of research possibilities is limitless when designing an independent research project from start to finish. Majoring in the discipline that you are intending to research is not a requirement, however some relevant background is expected. Moreover, researching a topic that is related to your current course of study or perhaps your future comprehensive exams is favorable.

Some example projects conducted by past Richter scholars include:

  • The Power of Music: How Public Health Organizations Utilize Music in HIV Education in South Africa
  • The Effects of Environment Factors on Asthma in Lima, Peru
  • High Efficiency Wood Stoves in Northern Uganda
  • Textiles of Japanese Minority Cultures
  • Social Performance of Madness in Elizabethan Theater in England

To learn more about what kinds of projects have been done in the past see the Richter Scholars page.

Once a student has identified an area of interest he or she should continue to the Application Process to learn more about what steps to take in order to be a successful Richter candidate.

In-country support and infrastructure

Due to the nature of independent research, students are expected to create their own infrastructure and support in country. Students MUST demonstrate that they have all the elements necessary to conduct successful projects while ensuring that they will remain healthy and safe. Below is a list of items that the student must acquire and set up prior to submitting their final proposal. Please note that IPO may be able to contract with one of their study abroad partner organizations for some in-country support, contingent upon the country selection.

  • Letter of support from sponsoring organization or institution
  • Emergency contact person on-site and contact information
  • Country/city specific knowledge
  • Safe housing situation
  • Safe transportation plan
  • 10 to 15 research contacts
  • Realistic budget
  • Detailed weekly itinerary
  • Visa information

Application Instructions

A complete application consists of the following components:

  1. Research Proposal
  2. Literature Review
  3. Annotated Bibliography
  4. Contacts
  5. Budget
  6. Itinerary
  7. Supervisor Meeting Log
  8. Two Faculty Recommendations (one MUST be from your faculty supervisor)
Research Proposal

A research proposal should summarize your proposed research project in 5 to 7 pages. It should contain a clear research question and describe the methods you will use to carry out this research. It is also your opportunity to describe previous coursework or experience that has prepared you for this project. Finally, you should describe how you will engage with the host country.

Research Proposal Sample #1

Research Proposal Sample #2

Literature Review

A literature review is an opportunity for you to explore your research idea.
A literature review is a short paper that critically analyzes a published body of knowledge through summary, classification, and comparison of prior research. It offers an overview and assessment of the current state of knowledge on a topic and will help you insure that research on your topic has not already been done. Unlike an annotated bibliography, a literature review is presented as a structured critical paper rather than a listing and description of bibliographical works researched. The literature review should include at least 5 scholarly articles or books on your topic and should be approximately 5-6 pages long.

Tips for Doing Research

Additional information on the literature review

Literature Review Sample #1

Literature Review Sample #2

Annotated Bibliography

The annotated bibliography should include citations for a list articles, books, and documents and briefly summarize the importance and relevance of this source and how it will be useful to your proposed research project in no more than 200 words for each source. You should have at least 10 sources.

Annotated Bibliography Sample #1

Annotated Bibliography Sample #2


This section should include 10 to 15 contacts. For each contact you should include the following information:

1. Name of Contact
2. Organization or Institution Affiliation
3. Address
4. Telephone Number
5. Dates of Communication
6. Brief description of how this contact will contribute to your project

Contacts Sample #1

Contacts Sample #2


Step 1: Your budget should include price quotes and descriptions that demonstrate how you came up with the cost estimate for each of the 10 items below.

1. Airfare (3 Price Quotes)
2. Ground Transportation (Description/Notes/Source/ and Cost)
3. Accommodation (Dates/ Number of Nights/ Type of Accommodation/ and Cost)
4. Cellular Phone (2 Price Quotes)
5. Food (Description/Notes/Source/ and Cost)
6. Research Materials (Description/Notes/Source/ and Cost)
7. Immunizations (Only If Necessary)
8. Visa (Description/Notes/Source/ and Cost)
9. Translation for human subject’s application or other (Description/Notes/Source/ and Cost)
10. Other items (Description/Notes/Source/ and Cost)

Step 2: You should include a summary of the above costs with an overall total budget amount in US $.

Please Note:
All figures must be converted into US dollars.
Document your exchange rate and source, if applicable.
Round your figures to the nearest dollar.

For additional information on Budget Guidelines, please click here.

Budget Sample #1

Budget Sample #2


Should describe in detail what you will be doing weekly and daily (8 to 10 weeks.) Your itinerary dates should fall between the completion of spring semester finals and the third week in July. All students who are granted the Richter will be required to return to campus following their Richter research to present their findings at the Undergraduate Research Conference in the summer.

Itinerary Sample #1

Itinerary Sample #2

Supervisor Meeting Log

You will be required to turn in a supervisor meeting log as a part of your proposal. Your meeting log should notate the date of your meeting and summarize what was discussed. For more information on finding a Richter supervisor, please click here.

Meeting Log Sample #1

Meeting Log Sample #2

Two Faculty Recommendations

You will be required to submit two faculty recommendations. One of the recommendations MUST be from your supervisor. Oxy's on-line application system will assist you in requesting these and IPO will forward the forms for approved applicants to our partners—no need to fill out program-specific forms. Be SURE to discuss your proposal and/or send a copy of your essay questions to your recommender. They cannot complete the form unless they know your reasons for research abroad.

Apply Now!

Independent Research Application

Contact International Programs
McKinnon Center for Global Affairs, Johnson 102